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Hi everybody!

I'm an English teacher and today I had a question that I found difficult to answer. Compare:

"I'm sorry, we don't have any tables available at 7:00."
"I'm sorry, we don't have any available tables at 7:00."

To me, both sound OK. The question is: if "available" is an adjective, why is it acceptable for the adjective to appear AFTER the noun (tables) in the first sentence?

Could anybody shed some light on the subject?
Thanks a lot for any help!!
GS
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Comments  
Hi,
Welcome to the Forum.
Compare:

"I'm sorry, we don't have any tables available at 7:00."
"I'm sorry, we don't have any available tables at 7:00."

To me, both sound OK. The question is: if "available" is an adjective, why is it acceptable for the adjective to appear AFTER the noun (tables) in the first sentence?

Could anybody shed some light on the subject?

In modern English, 'before the noun' is the norm, but the older-English possible placement of 'after the noun' still survives in poetry, songs, rhetoric.
eg Consider Cole Porter's lyrics for his beautiful song, 'So In Love'.
Strange, dear, but true, dear,
When I'm close to you dear,
The stars fill the sky,
So in love with you am I.

Even without you
My arms fold about you.
You know, darling, why,
So in love with you am I.

In love with the night mysterious
The night when you first were there
In love with
my joy delirious
When I knew that you could care.

So taunt me and hurt me,
Deceive me, desert me,
I'm yours ‘til I die,
So in love,
So in love
So in love with you, my love, am I.

You could consider we don't have any tables available at 7:00 as a shortened form of we don't have any tables that are available at 7:00.
A number of adjectives that end in ible/able can be used in this way, eg It's the only solution possible.

There are a number of other cases, too, eg The members present all agreed.

I drew some of these thoughts from Michael Swan's excellent book, 'Practical English Usage'. It's a great reference book for teachers.

Best wishes, Clive

Thank you very much! Just the sort of answer I was hoping for.
-GS
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
Clive So taunt me and hurt me,
Deceive me, desert me,
I assume you're imagining this with a tango beat!
Story of my life.
GrandSpleen"I'm sorry, we don't have any tables available at 7:00."
"I'm sorry, we don't have any available tables at 7:00."
I'd choose the first sentence.

I suppose I regard available at 7:00 as a more or less inseparable adjective phrase.

Adjectives are placed after nouns more often than you may realize, especially when additional words are needed to complete the meaning of the adjective.

Compare:

Louise bought two dresses suitable for evening wear.
Louise bought two suitable dresses for evening wear.
(???)

We took a leisurely walk on grass wet with dew.
We took a leisurely walk on wet grass with dew.
(???)

I see your examples the same way.

I have a table available at 7:00.
I have an available table at 7:00.
(???)

CJ
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Louise bought two dresses suitable for evening wear.
Louise bought two suitable dresses for evening wear.
(???)

To me these don't mean the same, although one may argue that in specific cases they amount to the same..
CalifJimLouise bought two dresses suitable for evening wear.
Louise bought two suitable dresses for evening wear.
(???)

We took a leisurely walk on grass wet with dew.
We took a leisurely walk on wet grass with dew.
(???)

I see your examples the same way.

I have a table available at 7:00.
I have an available table at 7:00.
(???)
I guess it's because of the adverbial phrase that follows. But what if you don't have one following?

They had no tables available. (hmm, is this ok?)
They had no available tables.

I think some adjectives can come after the noun if they also refer to an adverbial phrase in some way. Otherwise, the normal order is used. The only exception I can think of is "present", which has different meanings in different positions (A gift for the present police chief - A gift for all the students present).
GrandSpleen"I'm sorry, we don't have any tables available at 7:00."
"I'm sorry, we don't have any available tables at 7:00."
I agree with CJ - the adjective in this case has more affinity with the adverb phrase that modifies it, than to the noun it modifies. (available when? -answer: at 7:00).
Notice when there are more adjectives, they are placed before the noun, since they are not associated with the adverb phrase, they are associated with the noun.:
We have no large round tables available at 7:00.
And I agree with Clive - that in cases where the adjective follows the noun, you can make an implied clause with the verb "be" and the adjective as a predicate:
We have no tables (that are) available at 7:00.
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