Can I use "A B C" construct instead of "C of A B"?

For example:

"a fast man search" instead of "search of a fast man"?

It is confusing here whether the search or the man is fast, and if I use "a fast man search" some people can think that I mean "fast search of a man", but.. anyway - does the English language allows to do it?
Or let's take this example:

"a red flower search" instead of "search of a red flower"

red search is not possible thing, so the meaning should be clear in both cases, meanwhile first case is more compact. So can I use the first construct here?

And how about expressions like this:

"search of pairs of neighbour flowers"

can I rephrase it more compactly and readably somehow?

closed as unclear what you're asking by snailboat, jimsug, Em1, CocoPop, Damkerng T. Aug 8 '14 at 21:19

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  • Perhaps provide a full sentence for each example, so that we can see the context that they will be used in. – F.E. Aug 7 '14 at 7:49
  • @F.E., let's say these are not part of the sentence, these are complete names..... of my project:) – klm123 Aug 7 '14 at 7:51
  • So are these supposed to be candidate names for different types of search algorithms? – F.E. Aug 7 '14 at 7:53
  • @F.E., yes, they are. – klm123 Aug 7 '14 at 8:05
  • 1
    So a "man" is getting searched? . . . You probably might want to add more description to your question post, to show what this "search" is, and perhaps provide an example so we know what it is that is getting named. – F.E. Aug 7 '14 at 8:17

Yes, you can use the simple structure, but watch out for ambiguity.

Think about:

man eating animals

Is it a man who eats animals, or animals that eat people? Both are valid, although the latter would be more commonly written as man-eating animals, but the dash is not mandatory - just recommended to avoid this ambiguity.

In many cases the context makes it clear, but in others not. Like in case of your examples. Obviously it's not a red search of a flower, but is it fast-man search, or fast man-search?

In other words: the grammar is correct but it's easy to make a style/logic error if you don't use the of form.

In case of your last question:

"neighbor-flowers pairs search"

The dash removes the ambiguity whether you look for pairs of neighbor flowers, or for neighboring pairs of flowers (groups of 4). There's no ambiguity with search - search in pairs would be denoted as such; pairs search means only search of pairs. And pairs is not a gerund or verb which could be misinterpreted e.g. as "flowers pairing the search".

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