music instruments or musical instruments

  • Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    Just to provide a little transatlantic balance (;)), the British National Corpus lists 188 examples of "musical instrument(s)" (total of sing. + plur.), and zero for "music instrument(s)".

    If I were proofreading a text, I would definitely propose "musical instruments" in place of "music instruments". Whilst the latter is arguably not incorrect, it certainly sounds "un-English" to me.

    Ws:)
     

    Hau Ruck

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    My following explanation may or may not confuse you. I apologize in advance if it confuses you. :)

    Ask yourself:
    What are the instruments? The instruments are musical. This would be correct because the instruments make music. (they are musical)
    What are the instruments? The instruments are music. This would be incorrect because the instruments are not actually music. :)

    Thus, musical instruments must be used. ;)
     
    Just to provide a little transatlantic balance (;)), the British National Corpus lists 188 examples of "musical instrument(s)" (total of sing. + plur.), and zero for "music instrument(s)".

    If I were proofreading a text, I would definitely propose "musical instruments" in place of "music instruments". Whilst the latter is arguably not incorrect, it certainly sounds "un-English" to me.

    Ws:)

    Thanks for your provision of the transatlantic balance! :D

    I believe your avatar is Miroku from the Japanese Anime Inuyasha. I love this anime. :D
     
    My following explanation may or may not confuse you. I apologize in advance if it confuses you. :)

    Ask yourself:
    What are the instruments? The instruments are musical. This would be correct because the instruments make music. (they are musical)
    What are the instruments? The instruments are music. This would be incorrect because the instruments are not actually music. :)

    Thus, musical instruments must be used. ;)
    Wow, thanks for providing a useful way to solve the problem and the alike!:)
    It's very clear.
     

    Hau Ruck

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I would hesitate to apply this as a general rule, ChuanL. We have many noun phrases in English such as fire engine, town hall, science teacher, etc.
    A very good point. :) I should have noted that this, is by no means, a rule of thumb to follow. I should have been a bit more careful and stated that this application will not work in every example. :)
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    I would hesitate to apply this as a general rule, ChuanL. We have many noun phrases in English such as fire engine, town hall, science teacher, etc.
    I agree with James. Of course one might argue that fire, town, etc don't have obvious adjectival equivalents in the way that music has musical.

    So an even closer example might be suspension bridge.
    - Is the bridge suspension? No.
    - Is the bridge suspended? Yes.
    Nonetheless it's called a suspension bridge, not a suspended bridge.

    Anyway, as Filsmith has graciously said it's not a rule of thumb, I won't labour the point.:cool:

    Ws:)
     

    George French

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Music instrument(s) is commonly used on the Internet on UK sites.. And US sites...

    GF..

    I use it as well, ain't that enough proof? 'Nough said? (isn't and enough)
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    I live 'n learn, George. Googled for "music instrument": 4,990,000 hits (vs 35,100,000 for "musical instrument"). OK that's still 7:1 in favour of "musical", but a far higher relative incidence of "music instrument" than I'd have expected. For UK sites, the ratio moves to 15:1, which I guess puts you into a more elite group than if you were AmE!;)

    All the above with the usual reserve about Google stats, of course.

    Ws
    :)
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Far more reliable than raw Google numbers is Google Books: some 1200 hits for "music instruments", most of them irrelevant because they're in separate sentences, and most of the relevant ones modified by a compound, such as 'folk music instruments'; versus 3.8 million for "musical instruments". And the Ngram Viewer can scarcely see the 'music' version either: http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=music+instruments%2Cmusical+instruments&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=0&smoothing=3
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    Good point, eb. I found the 3.8 million; although for "music instruments", rather than 1200, I came up with 92600 (but, as you say, largely irrelevant for the reasons you gave). So that puts George into an even more exclusive elite than I'd thought.;)

    Ws:)
     

    George French

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Good point, eb. I found the 3.8 million; although for "music instruments", rather than 1200, I came up with 92600 (but, as you say, largely irrelevant for the reasons you gave). So that puts George into an even more exclusive elite than I'd thought.
    Ws
    :D:D

    GF..

    And it's raining cats and dogs here... :D
     
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