I'm always confused when it comes to whether to use plural or singular attributive nouns. I know the general rule, which is to use the singular form in cases where you are unsure, but every once in a while, I encounter the opposite. So, what about this case?

The UK's migrant [worker or workers] population increases considerably every year.

1 Answer 1


Personally, I would reposition population. You already have two noun adjuncts UK and migrant that modify workers. The addition of UK qualifies which group of migrant workers we are referring to.

  • The population of UK migrant workers steadily increases every year

We can say a population belongs to a country or state:

  • The UK's population of migrant workers …

This can be reworded as:

Use the plural form, workers, to clarify that you are talking about a group of people.

If you had to write the title of a research paper or report, the singular worker would be acceptable. Personally, I find four nouns in a row to be overkill but it is not unusual.

  • The UK Migrant Worker Population

For example; The Unsigned United Nations Migrant Worker Rights Convention:

  • Really helpful answer! Thank you! Commented May 15 at 9:36
  • @anIELTSlearner my pleasure!
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 15 at 10:08
  • By the way, in your opinion, how many attributive words preceding a noun start to be too many and need rephrasing? Commented May 15 at 13:02
  • 1
    There is no limit, and the number of attributive nouns (adjuncts) is a matter of style. The more adjuncts are added the less clearer its meaning becomes.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 15 at 17:53

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