Adjectives function as nouns

Some adjectives are used as nouns to describe groups of people. For example, when we refer to sick people, we can simply say the sick. The adjective takes the place of the noun and the noun that the adjective modifies is removed.  Each of these adjectives must follow the definite the.  


There are the blind, the deaf, the elderly, the famous, the homelessthe innocentthe intelligentthe joblessthe meekthe old, the poor, the politically correct, the privileged, the richthe sickthe strongthe underprivilegedthe unemployedthe weakthe wealthy, the youngetc.



  • The seaside resort is frequented by the rich and famous.
  • Every year, millions join the ranks of the unemployed worldwide.
  • There were complaints of inadequate facilities in the new toilets for the disabled.
  • There seems to have no plans to provide cheap housing for the homeless.



The nouns are used in the plural and the verbs that follow them must therefore be plural. 


  • The injured were in the thousands



  • The disabled have found it very difficult to get a job.




Sometimes, the noun is a singular.


  • The accused is found guilty.

  • The deceased was believed to have killed himself.


Adjectives used as nouns without ‘the’

The word the need not always have to follow the adjectival noun. It depends on how the adjectival noun is used in a sentence.  


  • We do take care of our elders..
  • The government should do something for our homeless.
  • There must be a law to ensure the rights of minors are protected.
  • How do you treat your blind in your province?



Possession of adjectival nouns.

The possession of adjectival nouns is not normally indicated by the use of an apostrophe s ( ‘s ). The correct way is to use of as shown here.



  • No: More luxurious apartments are being built to meet the wealthy's demand.:    
    Yes: More luxurious apartments are being built to meet the demand of the wealthy. 
  • No: The new policies will promote the poor's and the unemployed's welfare.
    Yes: The new policies will promote the welfare of the poor and the unemployed..