Today’s word (“particular”) is commonly seen as an adjective, meaning “Separate and distinct from others of the same group, category, or nature”
- He made an exception in this particular
Moreover, it can be used as a noun, often in the plural, to refer to an item or detail of information or news:
- The police refused to divulge the particulars of the case.
- The particulars are on your desk.
This happens when an adjective is preceded by “the” but not followed by a noun. Look at these examples, in which poor and sick are easily recognized as adjectives:
- We were too poor to afford such holidays.
- He was sick with a sore throat.
However, when preceding them with “the” and not including a noun, they become nouns, as in here:
- They have always given money to the poor.
- Doctors and nurses care for the sick.
Merriam-Webster editor Neil Serven gives us an explanation and further examples:
A lot of adjectives are used this way, many referring to classes of people:
a shelter for the homeless
a word to the wise
the meek shall inherit the earth
tax breaks for the insured
A lot of these kinds of adjectives can be found in titles of works. The title of Norman Mailer’s novel The Naked and the Dead contains two adjectives that are essentially functioning as nouns. The same goes for Stendhal’s The Red and the Black and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful and Damned. Consider also the Martin Scorsese film The Departed or the American TV soap opera The Young and the Restless.
And lastly, this month, on March 18, Chuck Berry, the singer, songwriter and guitar great who practically defined rock music with hits such as “Maybellene,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” and “Sweet Little Sixteen,” died. He was 90. One of his great songs was “No Particular Place To Go” from 1964. Enjoy him performing it live in this video and listen to its lyrics. As you may find out, the lines are in the wrong order, try to get them right! And after doing your best, check them here.