"Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown" is the title of an action computer game.

Why is it "Skies Unknown" instead of "Unknown Skies"? Is it grammatically correct?

  • Mission Impossible – iBug Sep 10 '20 at 18:40

Placing an adjective after a noun is a stylistic choice, mostly used in poetry (to force a rhyme) and titles (for effect). It is rarely used for general prose in modern English, though it was more common in the past and thus has a “classic literature” feel to it.

Notice that the last word of a phrase sticks a bit more in the listener’s mind, so adjective noun emphasizes the noun, whereas noun adjective emphasizes the adjective. Title length is usually quite limited, so this is a clever way to subtly alter the meaning of a phrase without adding words.

Beware: adjectives which look like verbs cannot be safely used in this way. For instance, “the car green” works because “green” is clearly an adjective, but “the car parked” does not work because “parked” would instead be read as the simple past of “to park”.

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    There are also certain adjectives that always go after certain nouns. For example, time immemorial, attorney general (and similar titles such as surgeon general), and a handful of other fixed phrases. But you probably shouldn't try to do this with any random combination of a noun and an adjective. – Kevin Sep 10 '20 at 0:26
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    hmm stick a comma in and it works: 'The car, parked, looked like any other object standing by the side of the road. In motion, however, it became a sleek roaring tiger" – mcalex Sep 10 '20 at 3:17
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    It is also common in product names, e.g. Rubber Duck Deluxe, Pokemon Yellow, PaintTool Professional, ThingSafe Advanced. Although in these cases you might argue there is an implied "edition" or "version" after the adjective. – Artelius Sep 10 '20 at 7:50
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    "Car green" really feels off to me, while "cars green" seems odd, but fine. Is there any truth behind that or have I just been exposed to the plural usage more often? – Jacob Raihle Sep 10 '20 at 11:32
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    It's also common in phrases borrowed from other languages where noun adjective is the standard form (e.g. French, Spanish, Italian, Latin, etc.) E.g. "creme fraiche", etc. – Darrel Hoffman Sep 10 '20 at 13:14

There are several situations where a modifier precedes a noun. One is where the phrase originated in another language, another is in set phrases, another is in poetic language.Also, there are grammatical categories of modifiers that aren't actually adjectives, such as participles and adjectival phrases. Such modifiers often come after the noun they modify. "Unknown" is the negation of "known", which is the past participle of "know", so it can be analyzed as an example of a past participle coming after a noun.

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    For the technical terms, see hyperbaton and postpositive adjective. – JdeBP Sep 10 '20 at 8:43

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