An environmental problem is a problem that is related to the environment. I also see that an "environment problem" can convey the same meaning.

The former is a combination ADJ+NOUN (environmental + problem), and the latter is a COMPOUND NOUN (environment + problem). So, Is the latter (environment problem) acceptable in terms of meaning? And, is it grammatically correct? Finally, can it be used instead of the former?

  • "Environment problem" is fine, but requires the right context. It may follow a word or phrase that defines the specific environment, e.g. "a working environment problem", in which case it means something different from environmental problem. Please provide the context where you heard these terms.
    – Andrew
    Feb 26, 2018 at 1:55

1 Answer 1


This is a question of style, not grammar. I would never, ever use a noun to modify another noun when there is a perfectly adequate adjective to do so. There is, however, another class of writers who think the day has been wasted if they cannot inch English toward becoming an agglutinative language. All I think we can do with questions of style is to identify them as such.

  • Agglutinative is the opposite of what you want to say. Languages like Turkish or Hungarian are agglutinative—and it means they make compound words with the help of prefixes or suffixes stacked onto one another. "Environment+al" is more agglutinative than "environment" (in the case of the latter, its adjective-ness needs to be inferred). What you are talking about is the absolutization of the English language's property of being an analytical language (where you infer the grammatical function of a word from its place in the sentence, not from its constituent parts).
    – user68912
    Feb 26, 2018 at 13:44
  • But yes, using "environment" where "environmental" exists sounds somewhat colloquial.
    – user68912
    Feb 26, 2018 at 13:59

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