I have just bought an Electric Generator / Electricity generator. It works very well.

Sometimes, I'm confused when using a noun with adjective or two nouns together. Please help me to distinguish them clearly

  • 1
    Electricity is a noun and usually used for physical contexts about fundamental particles, e.g., electron. Electric, however, is also an adjective and is used to describe things related to electrical energy – Cardinal Jun 21 '16 at 8:48

Normally in English only proper nouns (names) are capitalised. In normal text it would be written:

electric generator / electricity generator

So in my view, neither are correct.

However, if you are asking about choosing electric versus electricity then the second is a better description. It generates electricity; it is an electricity generator. However often such words are contracted and it is often found more convenient to write electric generator, which is symmetric with electric motor. An electric motor uses electricity and cannot be called an electricity motor! The ambiguity only exists on your example (with a generator).

Other words that we might find used with electricity are:

electricity meter, electricity company, electricity bill, electricity plant

These all relate to the supply of electricity, but all may often be shortened to electric.

  • 3
    At least in the US, the word electric often gets used this way, where "electricity" might seem like a more logical adjective choice. This is common AmE parlance: The electric company reads our electric meter and then sends us an electric bill, so that they can keep running their electric plant. – J.R. Jun 21 '16 at 9:45
  • @BrianTompsett What does the last line mean? Does it mean that regarding other items such as electric mortors, there's a set rule to use 'electric' or 'electricity', but only generators can be called either way to refer to the same thing? Sorry... – Mikiko Jun 21 '16 at 9:52
  • @Miki I would never expect to hear electricity motor was what I was suggesting – Brian Tompsett - 汤莱恩 Jun 21 '16 at 11:13
  • @BrianTompsett Thank you for taking your time to make my question clear :) ! – Mikiko Jun 21 '16 at 12:27
  • @BrianTompsett My apology for being persistent, but does this mean there are more items that are called both electricity something and electric something and they both refer to the same items? – Mikiko Jun 21 '16 at 12:32

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