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I use the construct "available means" (adj+noun) in the first sentence below. When I reverse the order to be "means available" (noun+adj) has the sentence still the same meaning, please?

Customer contacts the sales staff by the available means.

and in the reversed order

Customer contacts the sales staff by the means available.

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    As a minor point, these are not full sentences. – J.R. Oct 30 '18 at 23:19
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Often in English, the adjective precedes the noun:

That is a fast car. (Not: That is a car fast.)
Nice guys finish last. (Not: Guys nice finish last.)

However, there are cases where it's okay for the adjective to follow the noun:

The sales staff should contact the customer by any available means.
The sales staff should contact the customer by any means available. (also acceptable)

This construct is called a postpositive adjective, and you can read more about them on Wikipedia. If you noticed, I changed the modifier in your sentence from the definite article (the) to an indefinite pronoun (any). As one writer explains:

When an adjective modifies an indefinite pronoun, the adjective comes after the pronoun. This rule ... applies to the indefinite pronouns “something,” “someone,” “somebody,” “somewhere,” “everyone,” “everybody,” “everything,” “anybody,” and “nobody” – and the adjective placement can’t be done in any other way. Examples: “Something wonderful happened to me last night.” “They went somewhere private.”

Launching into a full explanation of when postpositve adjectives are mandatory, acceptable, or prohibited is beyond the scope of an ELL answer. But now that you know what they are, you can look for more information on the internet and read more about them. (For example, one short blog, The Virtual Linguist, has a column about this topic.)

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In this context, with these particular words, both versions are correct.

But in most situations, with most adjectives and nouns, changing the order of the adjective and noun either changes the meaning, or makes the sentence grammatically incorrect.

As J.R. points out, the examples are clauses; they are not full sentences. The examples are grammatically correct in certain contexts, but not in most contexts. One context where they are grammatically correct is in a list of actions. For example, if you are writing out steps in a hypothetical interaction between a customer and a salesman, you might use one of these examples.

  • thanks, could you pls post some example(s) where the sentence meaning changes when the adj noun order is reversed? – J. Doe Oct 31 '18 at 3:36

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