When I say a person desperate for a loan, is it OK to say desperate person for loan? For example:

"1. He met a person desperate for loan"

"2. He met a desperate person for loan"

The reason I am asking is because sometimes we reverse the order.

We say "good chance to do something or good chance for something", not "chance good to do something or chance good for something".

Well, I actually think, for the chance sentence, both of them make sense, but for the desperate person sentence, I don't think the sentence two makes sense. Desperate person for loan sounds off to my ear. Is the sentence two, desperate person for loan, grammatically correct?

2 Answers 2


Only the first sentence, He met a person desperate for loan, is correct.

The second one is not correct, because desperate now say something about the person itself. In fact it can happen that the sentence is misinterpreted, because desperate can also mean the following according to the Oxford dictionary:

(Of a person) violent or dangerous: a desperate criminal

In more technical terms: In the first sentence desperate is a predicative, while it is an adjective in the second sentence.

Bottom line: Use the first form.

  • Thank you! But I am curious now... then why do people say "it was a nice thing to do", not "thing nice to do?"
    – Todg
    Commented Sep 7, 2015 at 14:45
  • Because nice is an adjective, i.e. it says something about nice, and therefore it is before thing. In the first correct sentence desperate is a predicative.
    – wythagoras
    Commented Sep 7, 2015 at 14:49
  • I know. I will after some minutes pass... because I do not fully understand. It is said that predicative adjective should follow the verb.. but I cannot find any verb after the noun..I am sorry for my lack of understanding, but Internet is a limited source..:)
    – Todg
    Commented Sep 7, 2015 at 14:56
  • That is when talking about the subject of the sentence. But in this case he is the subject, while in this sentence desperate is about the person he met.
    – wythagoras
    Commented Sep 7, 2015 at 15:02
  • An attributive modifies the verb, a predicative modifies the subject or the object.
    – wythagoras
    Commented Sep 7, 2015 at 15:13

The difference is in why the person is desperate. Taking your first sentence:

He met a person desperate for [a] loan.

Here the person is "desperate for a loan". This means that it his need for a loan is so great that he is desperate (ready to act recklessly). He will likely agree to unfair terms.

Now your second sentence:

He met a desperate person for a loan.

Here "desperate" is the way the person generally acts. He is known for acting recklessly and dangerously. The phrase "for a loan" now describes the reason for meeting him. This sentence likely means:

He went to ask a bandit for a loan.

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