I can say:

Prometheus is a prequel to the original Alien movie.

However, is this possible too?

Prometheus is a prequel movie to the original Alien movie.

If the word "prequel" doesn't have an adjective and only does have a noun form, could I use the form: prequel movie, prequel lives, prequel universes, prequel games etc.? Or this cannot be done in English?

  • 6
    You can use nouns in attributive position: chicken soup, atom bomb, scissor kick, etc.
    – user230
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 22:42

3 Answers 3


Most if not all words that are primarily classed as "nouns" can be used as "adjectives". There's nothing unusual about "prequel movie" (that's 373 written instances, but there are many, many more on the Internet at large.

A prequel universe also seems perfectly credible to me. It's slightly "quirky", since the word normally refers to a book, film, etc., narrating events which precede those of an already existing work, but such figurative usage is well within the constraints of both grammar and the need to be comprehensible.

I've no idea what OP might intend by prequel lives (what some reincarnationists believe in is past lives), so from my point of view it fails the "comprehensibility" test. That's not to say I couldn't be convinced otherwise. And a prequel game is obviously capable of being produced, so that collocation is fine.

Note that the only "awkward" aspect of OP's second example usage is repetition of the word movie. In contexts where both the original and the prequel are the same format, it only needs to be specified once (or not at all, if other contextual information makes it clear anyway). But that's just a style issue.


You can use "prequel" as an attributive noun, yes. I don't recommend using it unless the distinction is important. So if you want to contrast, say, a movie prequel to its novelization, you might say "While the movie prequel ..., the book prequel ...". But if you have only one (or context makes it clear), I would stick to just prequel: "DOOM's prequel, 'Sitting around waiting for aliens to invade', sounds like a lot less fun than the original video game.".

But this is a fine point of style. You won't be misunderstood if you use any of those forms.

  • To me that reads as contrasting the prequel to a movie with the prequel to a book.
    – Jason C
    Commented Mar 15, 2014 at 8:30

I don't recall ever hearing someone say, "prequel movie" or "prequel book". I would recommend that you avoid this construction. Someone hearing this phrase would know exactly what you meant, but it sounds awkward. Whether the prequel is a book or a film can typically be understood based on context.

For example, in the first of your sample sentences, it is safe to assume that the prequel to a movie, "the original Alien movie", would also be a movie:

Prometheus is a prequel to the original Alien movie.

If Prometheus were a book, and you wanted to say it is the prequel to a film called Alien, I would recommend something like this:

The novel, Prometheus, is a prequel to the original Alien movie.

  • 1
    Not my downvote, but I'm not fond of this answer, either, particularly since so many movies come from books. If I spoke about something being a prequel to Forrest Gump, for example, I'm not sure it would be evident if I was talking about a book, a movie, or both. That said, I think that the difference could be discernible in many contexts, so I'm a bit surprised this got downvoted without explanation. Maybe someone doesn't agree that it sounds awkward?
    – J.R.
    Commented Mar 15, 2014 at 10:34
  • @J.R.: It was my downvote, primarily because I disagree with it sounds awkward (the more so because it's actually highlighted). With such a negative assessment of the (to my mind, unexceptional) prequel movie/book, I assume Mark would be even less keen on extended usages with universe, game. The fact that OP's second alternative is a bit awkward because it repeats the word "movie" is an irrelevant style issue that could just as easily be dealt with by removing the second instance. I only answered the question myself to refute this one, which I find misleading. Commented Mar 15, 2014 at 12:46
  • To my ears, "prequel book" is an awkward-sounding construction, but it's a matter of style, and I'm clearly in the minority. Commented Mar 16, 2014 at 18:22

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