1. A beautiful and chocolate cake.
  2. A chocolate and beautiful cake.

Are both grammatically correct, meaning as the sentence above whether they sound natural or unnatural?

  • 3
    Does this answer your question? When to use "and" in a noun phrase with multiple modifiers – FumbleFingers Oct 10 '20 at 16:40
  • No, I mean, in this case, noun and adjective. – shortly Oct 10 '20 at 16:42
  • 2
    No, in your example, both beautiful and chocolate are adjectives (arguably the latter might be called a "noun adjunct", but it's being used adjectivally). The only true noun is cake. And whereas you can refer to a coffee and walnut cake or a rich chocolate cake, it's not idiomatic to refer to a chocolate and beautiful cake. Those two attributes shouldn't be separated by and, and beautiful would always come before chocolate. – FumbleFingers Oct 10 '20 at 16:50
  • For the order of adjectives, see ell.stackexchange.com/questions/98052/… . For the non-use of "and", see FumbleFingers' link. – rjpond Oct 10 '20 at 16:54
  • The coordination doesn't work. "Beautiful" is an adjective and "chocolate" is a noun, and they don't mix. You need "a beautiful chocolate cake". – BillJ Oct 10 '20 at 16:58

In your example, “chocolate” is a noun adjunct acting as an adjective, not as a noun. The only true noun is “cake”.

The rule is that you can only use “and” between two adjectives of the same class, such as two colors. The adjectives “beautiful” and “chocolate” are different classes of adjective (quality vs type), so you can’t use “and” between them.

  • 1
    No: "chocolate" is a noun phrase functioning as a modifier of cake" – BillJ Oct 10 '20 at 17:32
  • @BillJ Is there any practical difference? – StephenS Oct 10 '20 at 17:38
  • It's the mismatch of categories (NP + AdjP) that is causing the ungrammaticality. – BillJ Oct 10 '20 at 17:40
  • @BillJ “beautiful and brown” has the same problem: they’re adjectives (modifiers?) of different classes. – StephenS Oct 10 '20 at 17:43

I'd say 'A beautiful chocolate cake'.

It's a chocolate cake that happens to be beautiful, the adjective (beautiful) goes the 'compound noun' (chocolate cake).

The Farlex Grammar Book > English Grammar > Parts of Speech > Nouns > Compound Nouns

Compound Nouns

What is a compound noun?

A compound noun is a noun consisting of two or more words working together as a single unit to name a person, place, or thing. Compound nouns are usually made up of two nouns or an adjective and a noun, but other combinations are also possible, as well.

Generally, the first word in the compound noun tells us what kind of person or thing it is or what purpose he, she, or it serves, while the second word defines the person or object, telling us who or what it is. For example:

water + bottle = water bottle (a bottle used for water)

dining + room = dining room (a room used for dining)

back + pack = backpack (a pack you wear on your back)

police + man = policeman (a police officer who is a man)

Like other nouns, compound nouns can be modified by other adjectives. For example:

“I need to buy a large water bottle.” “That’s a beautiful dining room.” “My old backpack is still my favorite.” “A lone policeman foiled the attempted robbery.”

You can recognize compound nouns because the meaning of the two words put together is different than the meaning of the words separately. For example, water and bottle have their own separate meanings, but when we use them together they mean a particular type of bottle that we drink water from.

Forming compound nouns

As mentioned, compound nouns are formed by combining two or more words, with the most common combinations being noun + noun or adjective + noun. However, combinations using other parts of speech are also possible. Below are the various combinations used to create compound nouns.


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