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ATTRIBUTIVE

ATTRIBUTIVE. A grammatical term contrasting with predicative. The attributive position is in front of a noun: the position of new in a new house and steel in steel bridge. It may imply a permanent attribute, as a result of which some adjectives and most nouns can only be attributive: an atomic scientist but not *the scientist was atomic; the greenhouse effect but not *the effect is green-house. Some attributive-only adjectives refer to relationships (a former chairman), intensify a noun (It's a downright swindle), or limit it (the only time, the main idea). Some adjectives that are both attributive and predicative can have a special meaning when attributive (my late uncle, a certain person, a perfect nuisance, a good listener, poor old you). Some phrases that are otherwise not hyphenated are hyphenated when attributive: well known in a well-known politician, round the clock in a round-the-clock vigil, right to life in the right-to-life movement, but hyphens are not usual after an adverb ending in -ly (contrast a carefully written report with a well-written report). See JOURNALESE, PARTICIPLE, PHRASE WORD, PREDICATIVE ADJECTIVE, SENTENCE WORD.

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attributive

at·trib·u·tive / əˈtribyətiv/ • adj. Gram. (of an adjective or noun) preceding the word it qualifies or modifies and expressing an attribute, as old in the old dog (but not in the dog is old) and expiration in expiration date (but not in date of expiration). Often contrasted with predicative. DERIVATIVES: at·trib·u·tive·ly adv.

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