What is the difference in meaning between impossible mission
and mission impossible? In English, many adjectives, including
past participles, can come before or after nouns. But in many cases
I dont know what the difference is between an adjective placed
before the noun and after the noun.
Adjectives are normally placed before nouns and this is known as
the modifier or attributive position. Thus, we would normally say:
all the way round Brazil in five working days proved an impossible
asked me a number of difficult questions.
was sitting next to the open window which I couldnt
impossible, if I remember correctly, was originally the name
of an American television series which was later made into a film
which you have probably seen. There is, in fact, no reason for putting
the adjective after the noun here other than for effect.
It sounds original and therefore your attention is drawn to it.
to the general rule: adjectives after nouns
adjectives can be placed after the verb to be (and other
copular verbs). Then we would have:
the questions he asked were difficult.
verbs, which join adjectives to their subjects, describe the state
of something or someone or a change of state. They include: be,
seem, appear, look, sound, smell,
taste, feel, get, become, stay,
remain, keep, grow, go, turn:
suspects remainedcalm although I could see that
they were anxious.
soup looked, smelt and tasted good.
attributive adjectives with their owncomplement, e.g. capable
of achieving first-class degrees, usually require the whole
expression to come after the noun rather than before it:
are recruiting students capable of achieving first-class degrees.
NOT: We are recruiting capable of achieving first class degree
BUT: She was a capable student.
used to live in a house next to the Royal Opera House.
NOT: I used to live in a next to the Royal Opera House house.
BUT: I live quite near you. In the next street, in fact.
a similar way, participles are placed after the nouns which they
people questioned about the incident gave very vivid accounts
of what had happened.
issues discussed at the meeting all had some bearing on
all of these last four examples, however, it is perhaps more normal
to use a relative clause:
are recruiting students who are capable of achieving first-class
used to live in a house which was next to the Royal Opera
people who were questioned about the incident gave vivid
accounts of what had happened.
issues that were discussed at the meeting all had some
bearing on world peace.
adjectives come after most measurement nouns and after some-,
any- and no- words:
fence around the estate was three metres high, thirty-five
kilometres long and one hundred and twenty years old.
place doesnt look very promising, but lets
try and find somewhere nice for dinner.
couldnt find anything interesting on the television
so I had an early night.
somebody outside who wants to speak to you. Shall I let
present at the meeting was able to offer me any useful advice.