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which one is a best modifier? a noun, a participle , or an adjective

This question arises from a notebook correction, which is to change
'this can cause a budget deficiency'
'this can cause a budgetary deficiency'

Basically I think an adjective is preferable as a modifier, but when the adjective can't be found, I always use a similar participle or simply a noun as a secondary option. I have also noticed that in some cases, they are interchangeable. Some people use ' the electricity bill' and some use 'the electrical bill', and I think are correct (I read it from periodicals so I think it's trustworthy)

So the priority to me, by and large,  is adjective > participle > noun in terms of how much they 'fit' the grammar or context.
However, this is just my own understanding and I wonder if someone could give me some professional explanations.

Let's use some examples:
Group I:student union; greenhouse gas emission; career path; energy subsidy;

==> I think we use noun as the modifier because those nouns don't have the 'adjective' form. We don't say 'studential' or 'careerial', because there is no such words in English. But given that if there are, should we use 'studential'?

Group II:budgetary deficiency; educational funding; environmental problems;

==> This group of noun are lucky becuase they all have adjective forms;

Group III: subsidised green-wash; increasing rate; exciting moment; exhausted athlete




Well, actually I think that 'electricity bill' is correct, but 'electrical bill' is not correct, because it sounds like the bill itself is electrical. You can have an electronic bill perhaps, but not an electrical bill.  I think people sometimes use words and expressions inappropriately often enough that they become common use, like this example, but that does not mean that we should automatically adopt these manners of speech.  I believe this is an error.  Just a thought...



I've got a really good example:  we say wind enery, water engery (aquaria energy), but solar engery (better than sun energy, although sun energy is also acceptable). This is inconsistent and I can't find a good reason that can explain it yet...


I think it has to do with the actual meaning of the adjective.  If there is an adjective that accurately describes the noun, it can be used.  If there is not, than the description has to be done some other way.  For example with the words that you mentioned, it would make no sense to say windy energy and watery energy, nor sunny energy.  But solar energy makes sense, because it is energy derived from the sun, it is a harvesting of the sun's very energy.  So sometimes we have a good adjective, sometimes not. 


Oops, 'then' the description ..., not 'than'.  Sorry

Thanks Lydia for joining in this discussion! I agree with your opinion and also think that noun is only used if we can't find a proper adjective. 

BTW, do you think a 'budget deficiency' is acceptable? thanks

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