Source: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2014-10-21/the-rest-is-mystery-as-swedes-chase-possible-russian-sub

Is it a submarine? Is it Russian? And what’s it doing off the coast of Sweden?

The swirling nautical whodunit in the Baltic Sea brought back memories of Cold War fact and fiction, fueling the hypothesis among jittery neighbors that President Vladimir Putin’s Russia is making more regional trouble.

That is, if the vessel is one of his.

How do you grammatically understand that phrase?

  • Both memories of facts - the tension, the news, the military developments, the politics, and memories of the fiction - nuclear holocaust movies, spy intrigue books, radio shows about aliens. One could phrase this as "have been, and would have been" - things that occurred, and things we hypothesized about being possible to occur.
    – SF.
    Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 15:20
  • 3
    "fact and fiction" is a noun. "Cold War" is an adjective modifying the noun.
    – user6951
    Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 18:42

3 Answers 3


The phrase "Cold War fact and fiction" is an abstract noun.

If you had lived through the Cold War, it might evoke a feeling or memory of uncertainty and fear.

An abstract noun is a noun that you cannot sense, it is the name we give to an emotion, ideal or idea. They have no physical existence, you can't see, hear, touch, smell or taste them. The opposite of an abstract noun is a concrete noun. - See more at: http://www.learnenglish.de/grammar/nounabstract.html


"fact" and "fiction" are both nouns. So "fact and fiction" is a compound noun. "Cold War" is a acting as an adjective (more precisely, "noun adjunct") modifying that compound noun.


Fact & fiction: Fact is defined as a piece of information about a circumstance that existed or events that have occurred. Fiction, on the other hand, is defined as “an imaginative creation or a pretense that does not represent actuality but has been invented”.

And when they co-exist, the events and their outcomes become ambiguous.

  • 3
    I think OP's question was what part of speech is it in the quoted sentence.
    – Jim
    Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 14:59

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