Can I use some adjectives in plural form as a noun? Example story:

Two boys are talking about beautiful girls in school. And those girls are going to come and ask some questions.

In this story, the subject is clear (girls). So in this situation, can we say:

Beautiful girls are coming.

(The correct sentence.)

Beautifuls are coming.

(The sentence I am asking to use.)

I know we cannot use this formula for all adjectives. Personally, I think it can be a good technique in writing (if I can use it).

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    You can coin words like that in a group but it might not be understood outside the group. There is already the noun beauty plural beauties. Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 19:03
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    One can also use the adjective—in the singular, with the definite article, the —to mean everyone thus described: Normal rules don’t seem to apply to the rich and the beautiful. Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 19:08
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    But *Beautifuls are coming is not idiomatic. Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 19:09
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    And sometimes the plural form of an adjectival noun will become a coined word with staying power. In this damp weather, her hair had a bad case of the frizzies. Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 19:10
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    I'd say it's not "a good technique in writing" even for most native Anglophones, and it would almost always be a bad idea for non-native speakers. As it happens (and has been pointed out), the idiomatically established "derived concrete noun" from abstract noun beauty is in fact the same word (She's a beauty) - but it could have been otherwise, or there might not have been any such usage at all. But non-native speakers making up usages (especially in the low-precision environment of written text) is a recipe for disaster and misunderstandings. Best left to skilled writers. Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 19:27

2 Answers 2


Yes, English speakers sometimes treat adjectives as if they were nouns with plural forms. (See "nominalization".) For example, the adjective "deliverable" is often used that way ("deliverables").

You said, "I know we cannot use this formula for all adjectives," and that is correct. In fact, the vast majority of adjectives can't be used in plural form, as "number" is not a property of adjectives for which they normally inflect.1 For that reason, it is non-idiomatic to pluralize the adjective "beautiful".

Note that it may not be entirely clear whether a word is actually an adjective or noun. For example, M-W and AHD list "deliverable" only as an adjective, while Collins includes a noun entry for it. If a dictionary lists a word as a noun, then it will usually have a plural form.

1 Some people claim otherwise, for example with "little" / "few". Nevertheless, inflection due to number is certainly not possible for the vast majority of adjectives.

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    "Deliverables" is a good example. Others: highs and lows, reds and yellows, drunks, diabetics, vegetarians. Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 10:39
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    M-W and AHD are clearly out of touch. OED attests to the noun form since 1929, and it has been common business parlance for as long as I can remember.
    – Barmar
    Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 15:47

Your example with "Beautifuls" doesn't work unfortunately. No native English speaker would use it.

... but it is possible to use "the beautiful" as a noun (requires the definite article), according to the OED. However there's no need to use a plural S form, since it can already be used as a plural. However, it doesn't work for a specific/small group of people like your example, but for beautiful people in general.

Here's the entry with a few of the more recent citations, but this usage dates back to at least 1542.

1.b. With the and plural agreement. Beautiful people as a class.


1721 She loves the poor equal with the rich; the deformed as well as the beautiful. T. M. Gibbs, translation of M. Le Roy de Gomberville, Doctr. Morality 28/2

1794 The young Lady is said to be the most literary of the beautiful, and the most beautiful of the literatae. S. T. Coleridge, Letter 26 September (1956) vol. I. 109

1839 The beautiful are forgiving. Corsair 6 April 58/1

1861 The beautiful do not always wed with the beautiful. Dublin University Magazine December 747/2

1962 The beautiful and the rich trembled in that elegant city. J. Daniels, Devil’ s Backbone xv. 214

2012 The young and the beautiful are not expected to conk out in this way. New York Review of Books 8 March 27/3

Source: Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. “beautiful, adj., n., & adv.”, July 2023. https://doi.org/10.1093/OED/6632057087. The link requires a login unfortunately.

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    +1 I agree that the OPs suggested use is unnatural. But as a piece of schoolboy dialogue in a story it might work, particularly if the context made it clear that it was part of a local school dialect. That seems to be the use the OP wants. Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 21:08

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