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the -al suffix

English translation: -al makes it an adjective

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GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
English term or phrase:the -al suffix
English translation:-al makes it an adjective
Entered by: Dan Dascalescu
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19:28 Nov 9, 2003
English to English translations [PRO]
Art/Literary - Linguistics / grammar
English term or phrase: the -al suffix
When should we use the "-al" suffix and when should we not?

For example:
"The Romanian educational system" or "The Romanian education system",
"instructional domain" or "instruction domain"?

Google results may be equal in number for both cases.

Is there a grammar (grammatical?) rule for this?

Thanks!
Dan Dascalescu
United States
Local time: 02:18
-al makes it an adjective
Explanation:
Quite often in English in usage a noun preceding before another noun functions as an ajective. Hence, "education system" is understood to mean "educational system."

However, "adjectives" do not pronominalize, that is, they do not function as nouns. For example, it is important to get a good education, but you cannot say, it is important to get a good educational [sic.].

Mike :)

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Note added at 6 mins (2003-11-09 19:34:39 GMT)
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This can be seen in other languages also, where we have to add a noun or pronoun after an ajective, whereas in many Romance languages that is not true. The adjective assumes the noun function by pronominalizing.

For example, in Spanish if asked if we brough the big car, we can answer by stating \"I brough the big\" and we understand it means \"I brough the big one.\"

As you can see, adjectives to not function as nouns, but quite often nouns do function as adjectives.

When we say \"gold watch\" we know that \"gold\", which is a noun, here functions as an ajective since it precedes another noun.

Mike :)

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 43 mins (2003-11-09 20:11:57 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Another example in which a noun becomes an adjective through the addition of the suffix -al is \"face\" to \"facial\"

Mike :)
Selected response from:

Michael Powers (PhD)
United States
Local time: 05:18
Grading comment
Many thanks to all of you!
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
4 +9COMMENT
Tony M
4 +8-al makes it an adjective
Michael Powers (PhD)
4 +2no rulentext
4NOTE on marking
Mario Marcolin


Discussion entries: 1





  

Answers


1 min   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +2
no rule


Explanation:
Whatever sounds best is fine, generally speaking.

ntext
United States
Local time: 04:18
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in GermanGerman
PRO pts in category: 20

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Tony M: Can't generalise, I'm afraid --- it all depends on the NATURE of the word to which -al is or isn't added. Yes, indeed, of course you're right, Norbert, "no rule" means the same thing, so I'll change this to an 'agree'
1 hr
  -> Well, yes. One can't generalize — which is another way of saying there's no rule. Obviously, the -al adjective has to be an existing word in order to use it.

agree  Margarita
3 hrs
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4 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +8
-al makes it an adjective


Explanation:
Quite often in English in usage a noun preceding before another noun functions as an ajective. Hence, "education system" is understood to mean "educational system."

However, "adjectives" do not pronominalize, that is, they do not function as nouns. For example, it is important to get a good education, but you cannot say, it is important to get a good educational [sic.].

Mike :)

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 6 mins (2003-11-09 19:34:39 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

This can be seen in other languages also, where we have to add a noun or pronoun after an ajective, whereas in many Romance languages that is not true. The adjective assumes the noun function by pronominalizing.

For example, in Spanish if asked if we brough the big car, we can answer by stating \"I brough the big\" and we understand it means \"I brough the big one.\"

As you can see, adjectives to not function as nouns, but quite often nouns do function as adjectives.

When we say \"gold watch\" we know that \"gold\", which is a noun, here functions as an ajective since it precedes another noun.

Mike :)

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 43 mins (2003-11-09 20:11:57 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Another example in which a noun becomes an adjective through the addition of the suffix -al is \"face\" to \"facial\"

Mike :)

Michael Powers (PhD)
United States
Local time: 05:18
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 136
Grading comment
Many thanks to all of you!

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Tony M: Yes, and please see my comment below...
1 hr
  -> thank you so much, Dusty. Until I ready your very interesting explanation below I was unaware of the different consequences when used predicatively versus attributively. That's great! Your expalantion is excellent. Thank you so much. - Mike :)

agree  RHELLER: exactly! education system and instruction domain are incorrect
1 hr
  -> thank you, Rita - Mike :)

agree  Will Matter: yes to D, RH & MP.
2 hrs
  -> thank you, willmatter - Mike :)

agree  Margarita
3 hrs

agree  Jörgen Slet
3 hrs

agree  María Teresa Taylor Oliver: Such an excellent explanation, Mike! :) And thanks to Dan, too, for asking, this is one issue I was wondering about the other day :D
8 hrs

agree  J. Leo
13 hrs

agree  chopra_2002
20 hrs
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12 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
NOTE on marking


Explanation:
This ending derives from LATIN -alis,"means of, like, having the nature of" e.g basically only works with words of Latin derivation

The key issue in your example is that SYSTEM, the main word, has two attributes ROMANIA, and EDUCATION..

> "The Romanian educational system", Romanian and educational are very obviously marked as adjectives to the main word SYSTEM
> "The Romanian education system", only ROMANIAN is an obvious adjective, and there is ambiguity as to the main word: EDUCATION or SYSTEM

As Michael rightly points out an English noun can often be used as an adjective (attribute) just by putting it next to another;
but when you two or more adjectives/attributes you *should* make it very clear that they are used in that way and mark them appropriately..

You can often use other means of combining multiple attributes, in your caseyou may also consider:
The educational system of Romania (of Romania = Romanian)
The Romanian system of education (of education = educational)



Mario Marcolin
Sweden
Local time: 11:18
Native speaker of: Native in SwedishSwedish, Native in EnglishEnglish

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  Tony M: Interesting points, Mario! I have some slight reservations, though --- please would you refer to note added to my answer above. (or rather, below!)
52 mins
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +9
COMMENT


Explanation:
Yes, I basically agree with Michael's excellent explanation, but just wanted to add my 5 eggs too!

First of all, the adjectival -al form MAY be optional when used attributively, but will usually be OBLIGATORY when used predicatively; in other words, we may say "the education(al) system", but we MUST say "this game is educational".

Also, it is important to beware of words where the noun and adjective form in -al may have special, distinct meanings. And this may be very context-sensitive --- for example:

"Burning his finger was an educational experience for him"

--- doesn't mean he went through the school system!



--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 13 hrs 58 mins (2003-11-10 09:26:55 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

In response to Mario\'s interesting comments:

I have a slightly different \'take\' on it from Mario. I don\'t feel at all uncomfortable with having 2 or more adjectival terms preceding a given noun, and I think the way we handle that word order (or circumvent it) CAN sometimes have subtle effects on the meaning.

In particular, I don\'t have a problem with \"Romanian education system\" --- there is no need at all to add the -al just to make it obvious that \'education\' is being used adjectivally; here, it couldn\'t be otherwise. On the contrary, I would avoid adding it for the sake of it, in order to leave room for the additional use of adjectives that MUST have the -al. For example:
The Romanian national education system

And I would certainly avoid using \'the education system of Romania\' --- a construction I hate in English (maybe I\'ve been reading too much French lately!) In my view, a better way to express that would be \"the education system IN Romania\"

Likewise, I\'m not too sure about \"the Romanian system of education\" --- to me, that almost sounds as if we are getting away from the original meaning.
As I see it, \"t.R.e.s.\" means \"the infrastructure (etc.) of education in Romania\", whereas \"t.R.s.o.e.\" almost seems to be referring to the way education is carried on specifically in Romania.
For example:
\"the Romanian system of education produces students with good literary skills\"

For every context, and every word order, there may be nuances of meaning or emphasis, so we need to be wary of playing around with the word order merely for style\'s sake.

Here endeth this morning\'s soapbox!



Tony M
France
Local time: 11:18
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 156

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Will Matter: perfect! All answers confirming -al are correct.
1 hr
  -> Thanks, Willmatter!

agree  Margarita
2 hrs
  -> Thanks, Margarita!

agree  Jörgen Slet
2 hrs
  -> Thanks, Jörgen!

agree  María Teresa Taylor Oliver: Great explanation, too! :)
7 hrs
  -> Thanks a lot, Maria!

agree  J. Leo
11 hrs
  -> Thanks, James!

agree  vixen
12 hrs
  -> Thanks, Vixen!

agree  David Moore: Brilliant, Dusty
15 hrs
  -> Thanks, David! I wonder if it's possible to be both brilliant and dusty at the same time...? :-)

agree  chopra_2002
19 hrs

agree  Mario Marcolin: Expressions like "the Romanian education system" may well be acceptable; my point was that "the Romanian educational system" is more explicit and sometimes to be preferred. Redundancy is not always a bad thing.
21 hrs
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