Posted by: Jack Henry | December 17, 2013

Editor’s Corner: Five Olympic gold medal rings!

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: five golden rings! Woo hoo! It’s about time we stepped away from the birds. Even my real life true love sent me this tweet the other day:

@nachosarah: The "true love" from The Twelve Days of Christmas sounds like a rich guy with a brain injury

So now my question for you is this: Is it five gold rings or five golden rings? Some would say that since gold is a noun and golden is an adjective, the only correct answer is that those rings are golden. I would tell you that both are correct, since in this case, gold is being used as an attributive noun (or “noun adjunct”). An attributive noun is a noun that can be used to modify another noun. Grammatically, you can remove the attributive noun while maintaining the integrity of the sentence. For example:

· She owns four cotton socks.

· She owns four socks.

Both sentences are grammatically correct.

We have a few words in English where the adjectival form of the word is giving way to the noun adjunct; in fact, I can’t say I’ve ever heard anybody referring to their hot new pair of leathern pants. In any case, either word of the pair you choose to use as an adjective is considered correct:

adjective attributive noun/
noun adjunct
golden gold
wooden wood
silken silk
woolen wool
silvern (archaic) silver
leathern leather

Kara Church

Senior Technical Editor

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

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