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'Energy' - is it an adjective or noun?

  1. Jan 11, 2010 #1
    Energy is a value expressed in terms of calories, joules, BTUs so in this sense I would have thought it is an adjective describing a system's energy potential. However, confusion arises because it is also a noun as in 'The world is running out of energy'.
    Is it both? or maybe it isn't an adjective but someother grammatical term.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 11, 2010 #2


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    This is not really physics :smile: but rather english grammar.

    I'm not a native English speaker, but I'm pretty sure that the word "energy" is a noun. The adjective would be rather "energetic" and the adverb, "energetically", no ?

  4. Jan 11, 2010 #3
    The word "energy" is a noun. The adjective would be "energetic".
    Grammatically that's all there is to it.
    In physics it is a quantity that has meaning and can be measured; just like force, velocity, mass etc etc. As such it can give you important information about a system. That doesn't make it an adjective from a grammatical point of view.
    We would talk about "the energy of a system", "the colour of a shirt".
    Colour is a noun. If the colour of the shirt is red. Red is an adjective.
    Hope this helps.
  5. Jan 11, 2010 #4
    I think it helps but in 'we have an energy crisis' I think the noun in this case is crisis and the adjective is energy (describing what kind of crisis).
  6. Jan 11, 2010 #5
    This usage is commonly referred to as a noun-adjective. Energy crisis can be expressed as "a crisis of energy" or "a crisis in energy", where energy, there, is a noun.
    Other examples: government department, nursery school. These also involve noun-adjectives where an alternative is not really possible.
    (Sorry mods: we seem to be a bit off topic!)
  7. Jan 11, 2010 #6


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    Moved this to general discussion, as this is about english grammar.
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