The center's much-hyped attempt to privatise Air India by disinvesting 74 percent equity has come a cropper.

I am still not able to understand how "attempt" is considered as noun rather then verb.

Any tip on how to figure out if a word is a verb or noun.

Here, attempt seems to be subject's action and in simple present tense. So attempt is satisfying both conditions of a verb i.e action and timing.

The above sentence is a line from news paper editorial.

  • “Attempt” is a noun in that sentence.
    – sumelic
    Jun 5, 2018 at 4:29
  • Everything in that sentence is singular. Jun 5, 2018 at 4:38
  • makes sense. Any way to quickly identify if a word is being used a verb or noun? Jun 5, 2018 at 4:56
  • ... has come a cropper?!?
    – Jim
    Jun 5, 2018 at 5:29
  • "Attempt" is not a verb here, but a noun. "The center's much-hyped attempt" is not subject+verb, but NP+NP. The first NP "the center's" is a genitive NP determining "much-hyped attempt". The latter can only be an NP, since verbs do not take determiners.
    – BillJ
    Jun 5, 2018 at 7:30

2 Answers 2


"The center's much hyped attempt to privatise..."

I hope the following helps to explain why "attempt" is a noun in this case. Breaking this part of the sentence down, we get:

  1. "The" is the definite article and is used to introduce a noun.

  2. "center" is obviously a noun. It is followed by an "'s", which indicates that the "center" possesses something. Whatever that something is, it will also have to be a noun. There is not usually much distance between a possessive noun and the object that it possesses. Since "much hyped" is not an object, the noun has to be "attempt".

  3. "much hyped" is an adjective. Adjectives are usually followed by a noun, which in this case brings us back to "attempt".

  4. This leaves "to privatise", which shows what action was being taken, so it is a verb.

You are correct that attempt can also be used as a verb, e.g.:

Do not attempt to repeat this. I will attempt to climb the mountain. He tried to attempt the impossible.


Ignoring the cruft, the sentence is "attempt has come".

"Attempt" is the subject.

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