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Certain nouns that decline like adjectives are adjectival nouns where it is standard to suppress the noun, e.g. ванная is short for ванная комната, and it is not too hard to guess what the implicit noun is (if, say, one is an English speaker). On the other hand, in this question KCd asked what implicit noun запятая modifies, and the answer seems to be, in modern Russian, nothing. Today I came across the word набережная and I am wondering the same question about it: is there an implicit noun that it modifies, and if so, what is it?

It seems that a difference between ванная and запятая or набережная is that ванная can be used as an adjective, whereas запятая or набережная can only be used as nouns. Is it the case that nouns that decline like adjectives but cannot be used as adjectives simply have no implicit noun in modern Russian? If this is not the case, what way is there to figure out what the implicit noun is? (And also for adjectival nouns in general.)

It is also suggested in a reply to the same question of KCd that запятая is closer to an adverb than to an adjective. It feels to me (from the point of view of an absolute novice) that the same is the case for набережная—might it be the case that nouns that decline like adjectives but are closer to adverbs than adjectives do not have implicit nouns (if, indeed, they do not) because there was nothing for them to modify historically?

One other thing I do not understand is that this morphological analysis tool only gives plural declensions for запятая or набережная: what happened to the singular declensions?

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    "Набережная" may be short for "набережная улица". – Artemix Dec 16 '13 at 10:45
  • Will you explain why you feel that запятая is closer to an adverb than to an adjective? – Yellow Sky Dec 16 '13 at 11:29
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    My guess why Aleks G wrote about запятая being closer to an adverb is that the word looks like Russian деепричастие (adverbal participle, like читая, пролетая, вставая, they function in a sentence as adverbial modifiers of attendant circumstances), but it is definitely not a деепричастие, because those adverbal participles can never be used as nouns, they have no nominal categories like gender, number, and case. – Yellow Sky Dec 16 '13 at 15:52
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    @Valiowk This is a guess based on explanatory dictionary. But National Corpus earliest examples are: "Каменная Набережная Линия", "Набережная Николская Улица", "Кикины Полаты Набережные" [А. И. Богданов. Описание Санктпетербурга (1751)]. "Мы въехали в набережную улицу ― и я вспомнил берег Невы. [Н. М. Карамзин. Письма русского путешественника (1793)]". By the way, there is another word that become noun itself - "мостовая". – Artemix Dec 16 '13 at 16:00
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    @YellowSky Thanks! That cleared up one of my misconceptions. – Valiowk Dec 16 '13 at 16:03
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It's not clear to me why would you need to find this implicit noun, but looks like the most reliable source here is the history of the word usage. Currently the most convenient one is Russian National Corpus. Explanatory dictionary can also give a hint, but this is not as reliable as the historic documents.

As the time goes by and nobody uses the "implicit noun" anymore, the word itself may change and the original noun that accompanied it may no longer go well with this "new noun".

For instance, in some cities people use "парадная" or "парадное" as a synonym for "подъезд". Explanatory dictionary defines it as "парадный вход":

пара́дное ср. разг.; = пара́дная
Парадный вход. Толковый словарь Ефремовой. Т. Ф. Ефремова. 2000.

But why "вход" is "парадная/парадное"? The possible implicit nouns are "парадная лестница" and "парадное крыльцо". But is it so?

Another option here is that "парадная" is created to line up with other parts of the house: прихожая, передняя, гостиная, детская, людская etc. And here we have another idea - that the nouns that were created from adjectives may create a new template for the words that describe areas inside the building. For instance - бойлерная, прачечная, электрощитовая, серверная, переговорная, игровая, etc. While "переговорная" or "серверная" may imply "комната", but бойлерная and прачечная now usually are separate buildings.

As for the words that may be used with or without their nouns - usually they are accompanied with nouns in the official language, but used separately in colloquial speech: справочная vs справочная служба, окружная vs окружная дорога, etc.

As for your examples - запятая is in fact borrowed from Church Slavonic, so it is always been a noun in Russian, and as such bears no "implied noun" at all.

Ванная can still be used as "ванная комната" (see National Corpus). There is also душевая by the way, but душевая комната is much rarer than ванная комната.

As for набережная - we can found traces of its usage as "набережная улица" in National Corpus, but in fact it is used only separately after 1800, so many people does not associate набережная with улица any more:

"Каменная Набережная Линия", "Набережная Николская Улица", "Кикины Полаты Набережные" [А. И. Богданов. Описание Санктпетербурга (1751)].

"Мы въехали в набережную улицу ― и я вспомнил берег Невы. [Н. М. Карамзин. Письма русского путешественника (1793)]".

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  • Thank you very much for the additional examples of changes that can happen in the language! – Valiowk Dec 18 '13 at 16:54
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A linguist might answer this better. I hope, I got this right. I am answering from pure language feeling, as a native speaker.

What I cannot help but observe myself is that those "adjectively" looking nouns originate from describing the situations, where the noun is partially lost already, but can be reconstructed in the hindsight.

  • улица Подвальная (in older cities): modern speaker might understand this as "cellar street", but it's actually под вальная, it was a street following the city walls.
  • ванная vs. ванная комната
  • столовая – same issue
  • набережная — similar to подвальная, на берегу
  • парадная (oh hello St. Petersburg, old friend), парадная лестница, as mentioned above.

Ellipsis is quite strong in Russian, why say the original noun if it's clear anyway?

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    A reason for saying a noun if the role of the noun is clear anyway might just be that omitting the noun sounds strange to native speakers. For instance (I know this is not an example with adjectives), you can't shorten the phrase задать вопрос to задать even if it is obvious what is meant. Russian at this time just does not allow вопрос to be omitted. – KCd Dec 18 '17 at 23:28
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    But there is спросить. ;) (For the rest of us: спросить вопрос is wrong, not grammatically, but because of tautology and direct translation from English.) You still can use ellipsis if the meaning is clear from context, like: "Посмотри, идет ли дождь?" – "Идет!". – Oleg Lobachev Dec 19 '17 at 0:24

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