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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

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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.

purgative
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. – FumbleFingers Jan 24 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 Jan 24 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". – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 24 at 23:55

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