Can anyone explain why we say on a strictly cash basis (and not strict)? Is cash here an adjective? Is cash basis a noun phrase or compound noun?


Cash basis is a compound noun; it is frequently written as 'cash-basis'. The word preceding it ('strictly') is modifying a noun, so it is an adjective. The adjectival form of of this word is 'strict'. So, we should say:

... on a strict cash basis.

Strictly is an adverb, which can modify a verb, an adjective, or another adverb; but an adverb cannot modify a noun. If you really want to use 'strictly' instead of 'strict', then you need to use a sentence such as:

We strictly deal on a cash basis.

In this case, 'strictly' modifies the verb 'deal'. Ultimately, both sentences mean essentially the same thing, but you should not merge them by allowing 'strictly' to modify the compound noun.

However, it is not uncommon, although grammatically incorrect, to hear sentences such as, "We deal on a strictly cash basis', spoken in English speaking countries. One day, given enough time, this incorrect phrase may garner enough acceptance that it will be regarded as grammatically correct, and yet another grammar 'rule' will have been modified.

  • If it is not uncommon to hear "on a strictly cash basis" spoken by native speakers of the language, then it can be argued that the rule has already been modified. – James K Nov 13 '18 at 8:10
  • @James K '... it can be argued that the rule has already been modified' Yes, up to a point I believe that such an argument can be made. However, I do not believe that enough people have adopted this modification to make it grammatically acceptable. In saying this, I accept that official grammar rules often lag behind the way people usually speak. – James Nov 14 '18 at 14:58

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.