In the text:

We continue to identify technical compliance solutions that will provide all readers with our award-winning journalism.

it seems to me the noun: 'compliance' is being used as an Adjective which brings two questions:

1 - Just to confirm 'compliance' is an adjective in the quoted text right?

2 - If noun can be used as adjectives are there any word that is noun only?

If word class of a word can be changed depending on context and the position within the text what is the point of categorize them? just an observation.

  • "Technical-compliance" is probably best classified as a compound adjective modifying "solutions".
    – BillJ
    Jul 28, 2021 at 15:15

1 Answer 1


In your sentence the noun compliance is not an adjective, but an attributive noun. M-W explains:

Attributive here means "joined directly to a noun in order to describe it".

There are a few differences between attributive nouns and adjectives, among which the most important, according to M-W, are:

  1. An attributive noun can only modify a noun when it comes immediately before it: It's a business meeting, not *a meeting that is business.

  2. Attributive nouns don't have comparative forms, but many adjectives do: One building can be taller or more impressive than another, but it can't be *more apartment than another.

So, rest assured, compliance is always a noun, it can only borrow some features from adjectives, but never becomes one:

Attributive nouns do some of the same work that adjectives do, but that doesn't mean they're not nouns. Think of them as nouns that learned how to multitask.

Compliance is not an adjective, because you cannot transform compliance solutions into *solutions that are compliance, the way you can transform interesting solutions into solutions that are interesting. Neither can you say *more compliance solutions, the way you can say more interesting solutions.

One more thing:

Should an attributive noun be used with a real adjective, the adjective always comes first:

  • a long [adj] research [attributive noun] paper [modified noun]

This is exactly the case in your sentence:

technical [adj] compliance [attributive noun] solutions [modified noun]

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