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"After the 1st of March there will be no sunsets earlier than 6:00 PM." The adjective "earlier" follows the noun "sunsets". Can anyone state a rule saying when the adjective follows the noun and when it precedes the noun in English? Mike Hardy

I'm not sure there is a firm rule here. "There is no X Y-er than..." and "There is no Y-er X than..." both have their place.

There is no task harder than...
There is no harder task than...
There is no flower prettier than...
There is no prettier flower than...
The first one sounds (if I dare say it) more formal than the second, in my judgement. But both are OK.
But something sounds odd about *"There will be no earlier sunsets than 6:00 PM." I don't know why, or what other words belong in that category. "There will be no earlier sunsets," period, sounds more likely, with earlier-than-what already understood.
Isn't this the sort of thing that Michael Swann and the teachers of English as foreign language have already figured out?

Best Donna Richoux
"There will be an earlier sunset." You're saying ... that all words refering to time are adverbs, unlearn it.

The Dictionary says its an adverb. Go *** under their bridge if you still have trouble with the idea. http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=earlier Main Entry: 1ear·ly Pronunciation: '&r-lE Function: adverb Inflected Form(s): ear·li·er; -est 2 a : before the usual or expected time

However, perhaps you didn't notice that Merriam-Webster divides meanings that are different parts of speech into entirely separate entries (unlike many dictionaries):
Main Entry: 2early
Inflected Form(s): ear·li·er; -est
Date: 13th century

1 a : of, relating to, or occurring near the beginning of a period oftime, a development, or a series b (1) : distant in past time (2) : PRIMITIVE

2 a : occurring before the usual or expected time b Emotion: surpriseccurring in the near future c : maturing or producing sooner than related forms

Best Donna Richoux
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Can anyone state a rule saying when the adjective follows the noun and when it precedes the noun in English? Mike Hardy

An adjective usually precedes the noun, but there is no hard and fast rule. In some cases the adjective traditionally follows the noun, as in "deed poll" for example.

Alec McKenzie
"After the 1st of March there will be no sunsets earlier than 6:00 PM." The adjective "earlier" follows the noun "sunsets". Can anyone state a rule saying when the adjective follows the noun and when it precedes the noun in English?

IMO it's not exactly a rule that is, I wouldn't call "no earlier sunsets than 6:00" ungrammatical. However, it would be abnormal, because for most people putting an adjective after its noun is less of strain on the intuitive parser (at least in colloquial speech) than separating a comparative from its "than". And a reason for that may well be that the intuitive parser can parse "sunsets earlier than" as short for "sunsets that are earlier than" at any rate, that comes natural to mine.

Joe Fineman joe (Email Removed)
"After the 1st of March there will be no sunsets ... when it precedes the noun in English? Mike Hardy

I'm not sure there is a firm rule here. "There is no X Y-er than..." and "There is no Y-er ... this the sort of thing that Michael Swann and the teachers of English as foreign language have already figured out?

Your example about the one that sounds odd- it seems to be true of other measurements.
There are people taller than 6 feet.
*There are taller people than 6 feet.
*Shorter people than this line can't ride.
but,
Shorter people than me are already riding.
Lengthier discussions than this one will follow.
*Lengthier discussions than one hour will follow.
The comparative doesn't seem to want to be separated when it's a measurement, but it's alright when the thing compared to is a noun or pronoun. That may not be exactly the right generalization.

john
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The Dictionary says its an adverb. Go *** under their ... -est 2 a : before the usual or expected time

However, perhaps you didn't notice that Merriam-Webster divides meanings that are different parts of speech into entirely separate entries (unlike many dictionaries):

I did notice. When I looked it up, the definition that was most applicable was listed as an adverb. If the sunset will no longer be occurring by 6, then "earlier" than 6 would be adverbial, according to Merriam-Webster, by virtue of the fact that any sunsets occurring prior to 6 would be "before the usual or expected time." The only reason I even bothered to respond was the OP's attitude. If I had been asked, I probably would have called it an adjective as well. I looked it up in hopes that Hardy was wrong. I would guess that "earlier" doesn't necessarily modify "sunsets" as much as it does the time the sunsets occur, thereby making it an adverb. It seems like a toss-up to me.
Mike
still

However, perhaps you didn't notice that Merriam-Webster divides meanings that are different parts of speech into entirely separate entries (unlike many dictionaries):

I did notice. When I looked it up, the definition that was most applicable was listed as an adverb.

No it wasn't. You decided that, but you decided
wrongly. You chose the definition in the incorrect word class. In the sentence in question, "earlier" is an adjective.
I detect two problems. You don't understand how a
dictionary is organized, and you are rather
confused about what an adverb is.
\\P. Schultz
"After the 1st of March there will be no sunsets ... when it precedes the noun in English? Mike Hardy

I'm not sure there is a firm rule here. "There is no X Y-er than..." and "There is no Y-er ... this the sort of thing that Michael Swann and the teachers of English as foreign language have already figured out?

Dunno, but isn't the main point that the "adjective" in this case includes a prepositional phrase? Putting that before the noun usually doesn't work in English, although I can think of exceptions like:
He is a better than average ballplayer.
Although that one had me reaching for the hyphen key, which would put it into a different category.
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The Dictionary says its an adverb. Go *** under their bridge if you still have trouble with the idea.

It is an adverb when it's used in certain ways. That does not alter the fact that it's obviously an adjective when one writes about "an earlier sunset". Sheesh. Mike Hardy
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