preservative, for instance, can be either used as a noun or an adjective.

  • This kind of food doesn’t contain any kind of preservatives

  • the preservative effect of freezing is good to keep most of vegetables last long

1 Answer 1


Suffix ative is added to a verb to form an adjective which means "having the ability to do {verb's action}". Those adjectives can become nouns.

a purgative

  • Some -ative adjectives (purgative, narrative, operative,...) can also be used as nouns. But others (tentative, lucrative, evocative,...) can't. Not sure what if any "rules" might be involved, though. Commented Jan 24, 2019 at 18:30
  • I don't believe there are any rules about which adjectives can be nouned, and whether they acquire suffixes or not to do so.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Jan 24, 2019 at 21:25
  • I believe any such adjective could be "coerced" into a noun in the proper circumstances. Seems to happen in sci-fi writing rather a lot. She was a pensive but her sister was an active. I guess we could call such fabricated contexts "coercives".
    – TimR
    Commented Jan 24, 2019 at 23:55

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