What is the difference between phrases "those sick is laying here" and "the sick is laying here"? Does they mean the same thing?

  • 1
    Both expressions contain errors. Do you mean "sick people" when you say "sick". Or do you mean "vomit".
    – James K
    Apr 3, 2022 at 12:49
  • 'Lying' not 'laying', is what sick people do. Apr 3, 2022 at 14:25
  • 1
    @MichaelHarvey I can't help thinking that this is a feedline for a joke that ends... "but we needed the eggs!"
    – James K
    Apr 3, 2022 at 18:45

1 Answer 1


A "substantive adjective" stands in place of a noun phrase. The noun is implied. "The sick" is a common example of a substantive adjective, and means "sick people" (in general). As "the sick" stands in place of a plural noun, it is treated as plural, and takes a plural verb like "are"

The sick are getting poorer.

You can use substantive adjectives to make generalisations. You can't talk about specific people or groups of people. So "Those sick" is incorrect. Also "The sick are lying down" is incorrect - unless you mean all sick people (in a given context)

You should avoid the use of substantive adjectives when they refer to people. Use "young people" instead of "the young", and certainly avoid using "the blind" or "the disabled". Such expressions reduce people to their symptoms, and are considered somewhat impolite.

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