Is this phrase-adjective grammatically correct?

This push-onto-the-core network sends packet onto its core and then the core sends it to the destination after reading the packets. This is highly inefficient, but allows the government to get all the data that circulates inside its network.

I am wondering if the phrase-adjective "push-onto-the-core" is correctly used here. The question is whether we can use transitive verbs like push as in push something. You would think only intransitive verbs like crouch as in crouch down would be used in such a way, but is it the case or not? Are there any rules?

  • Is there a core network i.e. a backbone? push-onto-the-core network is wrong. Please note we are not supposed to edit here. What are you actually trying to say?
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 12, 2019 at 15:31

1 Answer 1


In this example "push-onto-the-core" is being used to form a compound adjective. This particular compound is not very common, but similar constructs are not uncommon. Note that although "push" is being used in an essentially transitive sense, no object is in fact supplied, instead the object 'packet" is elided and implied.

I don't think there are any clear rules about this, English allows nouns, verbs, noun phrases, and verb phrases to be used adjectivally, as modifiers for nouns. When these are in the form of a compound, they will usually be hyphenated when first created, but if they become widely or frequently used such as "push down" (in "push down stack"), they hyphens are often dropped. This is a matter of usage, not of rule.

  • push-onto-the core is wrong.
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 12, 2019 at 15:25
  • @lambie do you mean that it is wrong grammatically, or factually? In either case, why do you think so? A simple assertion with no basis or explanation, is not very helpful to anyone here. Commented Sep 12, 2019 at 15:40
  • I used to write this bumph. There is no such thing. There are networks and core networks (AKA backbones) and you might have something like "push-to-talk" devices, but "push-onto-the core network" is not a proper adjectival construction in network parlance.
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 12, 2019 at 15:42
  • I mean, yes, there's no such thing in the real world, but you can still say flying pigs.
    – aLex
    Commented Sep 12, 2019 at 15:54

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .