In this sentence:

Here is the 2021 list.

Is "2021" an adverb answering where or adjective describing "list"?

  • It's functioning as an adjective modifying "list," much like "Here is the long list." Sep 28, 2021 at 18:05
  • Maybe it's a title. As in here is The 2021 List.
    – puppetsock
    Sep 28, 2021 at 18:37
  • It's a noun functioning as an adjective, like in school book, calculator app, and English student. Nothing special about it
    – gotube
    Sep 29, 2021 at 4:15

2 Answers 2


This appears to be a noun functioning as an adjective. This used to be known as an "adjectival noun", but is now more often referred to as a "noun adjunct", "attributive noun", or "qualifying noun". Here "2021" qualifies "list" by indicating which list is meant. Since it is modifying "list" (a noun), it functions as an adjective, not as an adverb.

  • I would say "like an adjective" rather than "as an adjective". It doesn't become an adjective. So I think the newer names for it are more apposite
    – rjpond
    Sep 28, 2021 at 20:49
  • 1
    @rjpond Something that is functioning as something else usually foes not become the other thing. A screwdriver that is functioning as a key does not thereby become a key. and a noun functioning as an adjective does not thereby become an adjective, although with the freedom in English to make nouns out of verbs, to verb nouns, and otherwise use one part of speech as another, one could argue that in this use it is an adjective. In any case I consider that "as" is significantly better writing than "like" n this usage. Sep 28, 2021 at 20:55
  • I would add that I think "qualifying noun" is a much clearer and better name for this construct than the obscure "noun adjunct" which could mean anything that 'goes with" a noun. Indeed it could mean an article or a determiner (although in fact it doesn't). Sep 28, 2021 at 20:59
  • This answer really covers it all. I wonder how the OP thought it could ever be an adverb. It's a sad day then when an adjective and noun need four different ways of being said. I have never liked the word adjunct to refer to an adjective.
    – Lambie
    Sep 28, 2021 at 21:06

Almost any noun can be used as a modifier to qualify another noun. But it is still a noun. It may be better therefore to avoid terms like "adjectival", which risk conflating function with category.

Adjectives are a part of speech (word class or category).

Modifier is a function, often performed by adjectives but sometimes by nouns or whole phrases or clauses.

An attributive modifier is one that precedes (comes before) the noun it modifies.

So in your example, 2021 is a noun being used as an attributive modifier, also known as an attributive noun or noun adjunct or noun modifier.

Modifiers are linguistic expressions that serve a certain function---namely, to restrict or qualify some other expression. Adjectives, on the other other hand, are members of a syntactic category that is defined by certain formal properties (https://www.ling.upenn.edu/~beatrice/syntax-textbook/box-adjectives.html - Dr Beatrice Santorini, University of Pennsylvania)

See also https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/english-grammar-reference/noun-modifiers


Nouns can act as premodifiers in noun phrases. They specify particular aspects or features of the noun, such as type, material, etc.: A university education, two 18th-century solid silver cups ( https://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/noun-phrases-dependent-words )

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