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Could anyone make enlightening comments on the use of past participles as nouns:

"We drive those undecideds into the arms of the enemy."

Thank you for any answer.

Robert
New Member13
Hi,

Could anyone make enlightening comments on the use of past participles as nouns:

"We drive those undecideds into the arms of the enemy."

Well, it's certainly acceptable and quite common. I think the best way to think of it is that the word 'people' or some equivalent is just omitted. eg undecided (people)

You can also do this with present participles eg George Bush's 'Coalition of the Willing' and with various other adjectives

eg Communists used to be referred to as 'the reds'. eg He gave money to the needy, he fed the hungry, he cared for the poor.

eg Oscar Wilde called English fox-hunting The unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible.

Not terribly enlightening, I fear.

Best wishes, Clive
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enlightening comments

I don't know how enlightening this is, but past participles used as nouns are very rare in everyday conversation. They may be more common in journalism and even more so in poetry, but even there they are hardly common.

CJ
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Hi,

I am afraid I phrased my question wrongly.

I meant to ask about the use of a plural for the past participle.

A search through the OED gives only 2 results for words ending in "eds", i.e. "undecideds" and "intendeds", this latter example being quite old (Dickens, 1838). Webster's matter-of-factly gives an example with "undecideds" but it seems to be the only instance available of such a use ("Are you still among the undecideds?")

I wonder if it would not be possible to simply write "We drive those undecided into the arms of the enemy" instead of "We drive those undecideds into the arms of the enemy". The use of the plural form seems to be unnecessary and very rare indeed.

Cheers,

Robert
Hi,

I am afraid I phrased my question wrongly.

I meant to ask about the use of a plural for the past participle.

A search through the OED gives only 2 results for words ending in "eds", i.e. "undecideds" and "intendeds", this latter example being quite old (Dickens, 1838). Webster's matter-of-factly gives an example with "undecideds" but it seems to be the only instance available of such a use ("Are you still among the undecideds?")

I wonder if it would not be possible to simply write "We drive those undecided into the arms of the enemy" instead of "We drive those undecideds into the arms of the enemy". Yes. You could also write 'those people who were undecided'. I think 'undecided' is really just a reduced or abbreviated form of that.

The use of the plural form seems to be unnecessary and very rare indeed. I wouldn't entirely call the plural form unnecessary. Consider the two different structures involved . 'In 'those undecided', I see 'undecided' as an adjective qualifying the demostrative pronoun 'that'. In 'those decideds', 'those' is a is a demonstrative adjective qualifying the noun 'undecideds'.

I think this kind of usage often comes about from a scenario like this. You have a list of people who have committed their vote to a particular party. Then you have a list of people whose vote is currently uncommitted. The headings for these two lists are 'Committed' and 'Uncommitted'. Now, as a kind of shorthand, you can refer to them by using the title, eg You can say things like There are more 'committeds' than 'uncommitteds'. Sometimes, the quotes are omitted, although I'd prefer to use them.

If enough people start to say and to write this, the words will eventually find their way into the dictionary.

You searched through the entire OED? Wow!

How about 'beloved'? You are my beloved. In my whole life, I have only had two beloveds.

Best wishes, Clive

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CliveHi,

You searched through the entire OED? Wow!

How about 'beloved'? You are my beloved. In my whole life, I have only had two beloveds.



Hi,

I have got the electronic version of the OED. Searches are as easy as pie! Emotion: smile

Thank you very much for your detailed comments.

I just conducted a more thorough search through the OED. I found only 19 examples of such a usage. Half of them predate the 20th century and seem rather obsolete. The following words are concerned:

anointeds

concerneds

condemmeds

conducteds

distresseds

educateds

sacreds

illuminateds

inverteds

The other words have 20th century examples:

thoroughbreds

knitteds

nonaligneds

nonscheds

coloureds

marrieds

half-breds

beloveds

classifieds

So very few of these plural forms have actually found find their way into the dictionaries. As a matter of fact, only the most comprehensive dictionaries (unabridged versions) give examples of such a usage at all.

The fact that you would use these plural forms within quotes seem to indicate that they are perceived as highly unusual even by native speakers. With the exception of the more modern examples above maybe.

Regards,

Robert
Hi,

nonscheds I don't know what this means



half-breds I'd say 'half-breeds', but the term/idea is widely considered rather offensive today.

Clive
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A similar question : Is "you can't leave the restaurant unpaid" equally understood "you can't leave the store until you pay"(I'm a customer) or "you can't leave the restaurant until I am paid " (I'm the chef)?

Also, the past participle "unpaid" seems functioning as a subordinate clause rather than a noun here

thank you
New Member01
Anonymous:
Clivenonscheds I don't know what this means



half-breds I'd say 'half-breeds', but the term/idea is widely considered rather offensive today.

According to examples in the OED, half-bred/half-breds is used in Australia and NZ to refer to cattle, horses, sheep. No offence meant.

nonsched/nonscheds or non-sched/non-scheds is used as a short form of non-scheduled/non-scheduleds.
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