General Writing and Grammar Help/unemployment rate


When I look up "unemployment" in the dictionary it is listed as a noun only, but when used in conjunction with "rate" it appears to act as an adjective, e.g.

The unemployment rate in the US is 7%.

Is unemployment also an adjective?

Lots of other nouns also are commonly used with "rate" or "capital" and appear to be acting as adjectives as well.

Hi Steve!

Thanks for the question.  This is actually a pretty common question about non-native speakers.

To answer your question, unemployment IS, in fact, a noun.  However, any noun can be used in this way as an adjective, specifically called a "modifier".  A modifier is any word, usually a noun, that basically just "acts" as an adjective for the purpose of the expression.  Other common examples of this are "basketball" in "basketball shoes" or "ice" in "ice cream".  In both cases, basketball and ice in and of themselves are nouns, but in those particular contexts, they become modifiers.

Hope that helps!

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Anything to do with word usage and/or grammar, plus the fundamentals on almost any type of writing (especially creative writing, such as poetry, short stories, movie/dramatic scripts, etc.)


Majored in English literature in college; have published short stories and poems, currently teaching English as a second language to foreigners

As mentioned above, a bachelor's in English Literature and also a CELTA certification which enables me to teach English as a second language to foreigners.

Awards and Honors
Editor's Choice for a national poetry contest. 2nd prize for a short story in a city-wide short story contest.

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