Adjectives used as nouns

We can use certain adjectives as nouns to categorise people by social class or physical condition.

For example, as an alternative to saying deaf people, we can simply say the deaf. This means ALL deaf people.

Likewise, instead of saying poor people, we can say the poor. This means ALL poor people.

Note that we always use a definite article (the) in these cases.

Here are some examples in sentences:

  • The local library has facilities such as ramps and low tables for the disabled.
  • A new support centre has opened for the unemployed
  • The film has subtitles for the hard of hearing. [people with hearing difficulties]
  • The recession, as is always the case, has hit the poor very hard.
  • The bus service is free for the elderly.
  • Films such as Forrest Gump and E.T. were a hit with the young and the old alike.

Also notice that these nouns are plural, so we use a plural verb:

  • The rich are better off after the tax reforms.
  • The injured were taken to a nearby hospital.
  • The old and sick are advised to stay at home when pollution levels increase.

We use of to speak about possession with these nouns, not ‘s:

  • The needs of the disabled. NOT The disabled’s needs.
  • for the benefit of the poor NOT the poor’s benefit


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