I am translating texts in the field of education, and got confused about two specific words (volunteer and candidate).

Can we use these words as modifiers?

To illustrate, can we say the following?

1) He is a candidate student for Erasmus.

2) She is a volunteer student for Disability Advisory Services.

Are the above examples acceptable or should I say "student candidate" or "student volunteer"?

Please note that I am deliberately avoiding using verbs or collactions such as "stand as a candidate" or "volunteering", and also want to use the word "student".

Thank you.


1 Answer 1


Volunteer can be an adjective meaning "being or engaged by volunteers". So calling someone a "volunteer student" is correct. "Student volunteer" is also correct. Idiomatically, it depends on which status came first for how you order them. If they were a volunteer for some service and then became a student, you could call them a "volunteer student". If they were a student, then volunteered for a position, they are a "student volunteer'.

Candidate in American English is not an adjective but can be used as a pre-modifier to describe another noun. This doesn't preclude the term "candidate student" as being internally defined by the organization as a position title.

  • 3
    Many would regard 'volunteer' as still a noun when used as a premodifier. Collins supports this view, for instance. / The availability of 'candidate' as a premodifier has been discussed here; 'candidate word' has been used in linguistics articles. Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 15:36
  • 2
    I was looking for a source that identified it as such because that's how it is commonly used, so I'm glad there was a source somewhere! I'll edit my answer to reflect that.
    – JRodge01
    Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 16:26

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