In a book on English adjectives, I came across a term I'd never met before — "a not full-fledged adjective". As an example, there was chosen the word fun used as an adjective in the "fun trip" collocation.

From all I had read there, I could conclude only that a word that can be used in speech both as a noun and an adjective, when it is used as the latter — may be called "a not full-fledged adjective".

My questions are these:

Is my interpretation of the term "not a full-fledged adjective" right or wrong? If it's right, is there anything more to be added to it? If it's wrong, what is the right one?

Is this kind of adjectives the only one to be called "not full-fledged"?

How can "full-fledged" adjectives be defined?

I really appreciate any help you can provide.


1 Answer 1


completely developed, trained, or established

So he is referring to words that are completely established as adjectives, from his perspective.

He begins with:

There are not only the run-of-the-mil adjectives like good, bad, and ugly, but also various verb forms (a driving rain, a decorated cake); words created from suffixes like -ific, -ive,-ous- -ful,-less, and -ic, words that do double duty as nouns and adjectives (green); both cardinal (two) and ordinal (second) numbers; determiners or possessive pronouns like the,those, and my; hyphenated adjective phrases such as high-quality; and so-called attributive nouns, such as the first word in the phrase company man, wedding cake, and motel room

Then he provides us with a definition (or at least a test):

Not all of these make the grade as full-fledged adjectives One fairly reliable test is whether a word can be modified by an adverb--for example, very, almost, or absolutely. Colors certainly qualify and numer are usually seen as doing so as well; we could say, "Susie is almost three." But the, those, my, company, wedding, and motel ( in the above examples) are not adjectives, despite the fact that they modify or describe nouns.

Unlike the terms simple present and simple past in grammar, full-fledged adjective does not seem to be a universally accepted name for these kinds of adjectives. From what I gathered, an adjective is "full-fledged" if passes his test. Of course, he mentions that the test is "fairly reliable", which suggests that it can fail. He might refer to more rules in the book. But I think the best definition he could come up with is that test. You might want to reach out to him if you want fully developed definition.

Further, the word fun is a full-fledged adjective because it passes his test. I think you misunderstood what he meant. He wrote

A classic example is fun, which started out as an attributive noun, in such phrases as fun house [...]

So, at first it was a kind of noun, but since then the word fun has "edged" it's way into "this" category, meaning the category of "full-fledged adjectives".

  • Thanks awfully attaching the whole paragraph. I didn't do that to not overload my question. Besides, even after reading it several times, I found no answer to my question. As for the adjective "fun" being "full-fledged", I just can't but disagree with you: "very funny" - yes, a game may be very funny and "funny" is a "full-fledged adjective;"very fun"- no, it isn't, it doesn't pass the test. Also, you might want to look at Ngram to see that "very fun" is somewhat unnatural, to say the least. So, I think that you, too, missed something
    – Victor B.
    Jun 13, 2016 at 12:10
  • P.S. I can add to your example "dress code", "star wars", "beauty shop", "communist party", "military zone", and many others. Are they all full-fledged? Hardly. Also, you might want to look at Ngram to see that "very fun" is somewhat unnatural, to say the least. So, I think that you, too, missed something, I'm sorry.
    – Victor B.
    Jun 13, 2016 at 12:24
  • 1. It's not my example, it's his example. 2. He said "for example, very, almost, or absolutely", so these are not the only candidates available for his test. 3. He goes on to use "really" as an adverb that modifies fun: really fun. So it passes his test. 4. He specifically said that "fun" started out as an attributive noun, but became an adjective. So no, you cannot just add those to his example. 6. I explicitly said the test could fail.
    – Em.
    Jun 13, 2016 at 12:34
  • Please forgive my unintended polemic misinterpretation. You answer is detailed and helpful. Thanks ever so much. Certainly, I'm upvoting it . Again, I'm sorry.
    – Victor B.
    Jun 13, 2016 at 12:52
  • 1
    Oh no don't worry. You are encouraged to ask questions. Good luck.
    – Em.
    Jun 13, 2016 at 12:58

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