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English grammar, a little question


#1

Hi guys!



I’m creating this thread because I have a question about english grammar! And hopefully, it could turn into the official “speak a good english” thread if other people here find that useful. I know I would!



So here it is:



Can you say “an evil is threatening them” ? I mean, can you use “an evil” as a noun, as you’d say “a man” for example? I always thought you could only use “evil” as an adjective or something like that. For example “an evil man” is correct. You see what I mean? Or you can say “Evil” but without the “an” before.



The more I read “an evil” as a noun, the more it bugs me and I really think it’s incorrect! But some stubborn frenchies are telling me we can say that, I’m confused :stuck_out_tongue: Please help me!


#2

Evil is not a noun. It’s an adjective.



A noun is a person , place, or thing.


#3

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/evil



"Tobacco is considered by some to be an evil."



it looks like you can say “an evil” as much as you can say “an illness” for example…it feels weird and medieval to me!


#4

[quote=“RatQuiRit”]
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/evil



"Tobacco is considered by some to be an evil."



it looks like you can say “an evil” as much as you can say “an illness” for example…it feels weird and medieval to me!
[/quote]

Yes, see. Tobacco is the noun in this sentence, and the adjective is evil.



If you had written - as you said above: “An evil is threatening them.” We’d have to know what that evil was. As in Lord of The Rings. They always have lines where they say “The ring is evil.”; the word evil is associated with Sauron and the intentional use of the ring, which is by their standard considered “evil”.


#5

Proper grammar is over rated. I think “An evil is threatening them.” works. It’s vague and mysterious but if that’s what you’re going for then in my book it works. I don’t know the difference between nouns, pro-nouns, adjectives or any of that stuff though. I just go by what feels right.


#6

[quote=“Dex”]
Proper grammar is over rated. I think “An evil is threatening them.” works. It’s vague and mysterious but if that’s what you’re going for then in my book it works. I don’t know the difference between nouns, pro-nouns, adjectives or any of that stuff though. I just go by what feels right.
[/quote]

You would have loved my 6th grade english teacher.


#7

Yeah. I mean unless you’re a novelist or something, it doesn’t really matter how you write. Just as long as it is readable and the main idea is conveyed properly. Even then most novelist have editors.


#8

Haha, yeah I hate all that shit too, but I thought it might be clearer to use that grammar vocabulary :stuck_out_tongue: Clearly not !

I never learnt english thinking about the grammar, I just used my instinct and what sounded good and what did not, it was kinda funny because it worked well but when my teacher asked me to explain how I got the translation right I was like "…no idea"



As for the question I asked, it’s because it appeared in a trailer of a fanmade movie : <LINK_TEXT text=“http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jB89-9X6 … re=related”>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jB89-9X6YS0&feature=related</LINK_TEXT>

Am I the only one to think the phrases sound weird? I dunno it sounds like a straight translation from another language to me. I was just noticing it and it started a big conversation and nobody’s talking about the trailer itself now :smiley:

And I can’t stop stressing out how minor it is compared to the use of the Requiem for a dream theme that we’re all tired of hearing now!


#9

of course “Evil” can be used as a noun.


#10

[quote=“Col. Crazy Kenneth”]
of course “Evil” can be used as a noun.
[/quote]

Wrong.



“Evil One” is a noun. “Evildoer” is a noun.



Evil is merely an adjective. It describes the noun you see.


#11

copy/paste:



evil:

–noun

6. that which is evil; evil quality, intention, or conduct: to choose the lesser of two evils.

7. the force in nature that governs and gives rise to wickedness and sin.

8. the wicked or immoral part of someone or something: The evil in his nature has destroyed the good.

9. harm; mischief; misfortune: to wish one evil.

10. anything causing injury or harm: Tobacco is considered by some to be an evil.

11. a harmful aspect, effect, or consequence: the evils of alcohol.

12. a disease, as king’s evil.


#12

[quote=“RatQuiRit”]
As for the question I asked, it’s because it appeared in a trailer of a fanmade movie :
[/quote]

That’s funny. I was gonna say it sounds like a phrase from a movie trailer.



And yeah, evil is a thing. Which would make it a noun.


#13

[quote=“Dex”]
And yeah, evil is a thing. Which would make it a noun.
[/quote]

Yeah. It required me to really think it over but it’s definitely a noun as well as an adjective. Although I’ve rarely ever heard it as such.


#14

It is called “nominalisation”.



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nominalization



And it is not incorrect English to use “an evil” as a noun.



It is not a case of evil being both a noun and an adjective. Evil is an adjective, but can be made to function as a noun. English is a fascinating language in that it allows for such transformations in a number of ways.



You can get the gist of it from the above Wikipedia article.



“An evil threatens them”.