Adjective: Definition, Rules and Examples of Adjectives in English Grammar

English adjectives! What is an adjective? The adjective is an important part of a lot of sentences and are used in all languages, but what is their importance in the English language? In this article, we are going to be looking at what exactly an adjective is as well as how it functions within a sentence.

Learn adjective definition and useful grammar rules in relation to English adjectives with examples and ESL printable worksheets.

What Is An Adjective?

What is an adjective? In the most simple terms, an adjective is a word used to describe a noun. These words can add a more descriptive flavour to a sentence. For example, you might say something along the line of the following in order to describe a tree, “It is a tree.” If you were to add an adjective into the sentence, you would give a clearer picture of what you were trying to describe, by saying something such as “It is a large tree.” or “It is a large, leafy tree.” The words in bold are the adjectives and allow the listener to get a better understanding of the object being talked about.

However, adjectives do not simply have to describe an object, they can also be used in order to describe something that is not tangible. A good example of this is the use of adjectives to talk about someone’s personality. You might say something along the lines of ” My father is an intelligent man.”

Adjectives are a great way to appeal to the senses by describing visual aspects, taste, smell, sound and emotional or non physical attributes.

In general, an adjective is a word that describes a noun or pronoun such as person, place, thing or idea. Adjective is a part of speech which is common that people use it almost automatically, both in speech and in writing.

What Is An Adjective? Adjective Definition with Examples

adjectives

Adjective Examples:

English Adjectives can be identified by their endings. Common adjective endings are as follows:

  • -able/-ible: credible, achievable, gullible, capable, illegible, sensible, remarkable, horrible
  • -al: annual, functional, individual, logical, essential
  • -ful: awful, cheerful, doubtful, faithful, forceful
  • -ic: terrific, cubic, manic, rustic
  • -ive: intensive, adaptive, attractive, dismissive, inventive, persuasive
  • -less: doubtless, endless, fearless, helpless, homeless, breathless, careless, groundless, restless
  • -ous: adventurous, famous, generous, courageous, dangerous, tremendous, fabulous

Though, a large number of adjectives are different…

  • hot
  • dark
  • smart
  • cool
  • common
  • complete
  • large
  • deep
  • thin
  • far
  • atractive
  • great
  • doutful
  • cold
  • crowded
  • careless
  • noisy        
  • quiet
  • real
  • pink
  • silent
  • simple
  • strange
  • generous
  • wide
  • young

Types of Adjectives in English

We are now going to look at the various different types of adjectives that can be used to spice up your sentences. There are two main types of adjectives as shown below.

  • Descriptive adjectives describe quality of the noun. In fact, descriptive adjectives can be attributive adjectives or predicate adjectives.
  • While, Limiting adjectives limit the noun being described. There are nine types of limiting adjectives as follows:
    • Definite & Indefinite Articles
    • Possessive Adjectives
    • Demonstrative Adjectives
    • Indefinite Adjectives
    • Interrogative Adjectives
    • Cardinal Adjectives
    • Ordinal Adjectives
    • Proper Adjectives
    • Nouns used as Adjectives

Types of Adjectives – Image

types of adjectives

Possessive Adjectives

Possessive adjectives are used to show ownership or possession.

  • Possessive adjectives are my, your, his, her, its, our, their. Possessive adjectives occur before a noun (her hair) or a an adjective + noun (her new hair).
  • Possessive adjectives have no singular or plural. They are used with both singular and plural nouns (his ball, his balls).

Here is a list of subject pronouns and their possessive adjectives:

  • I – my
  • You – your
  • He – his
  • She – her
  • It – its
  • We – our
  • They – their

Possessive Adjectives

Demonstrative Adjectives

In English grammar, this, that, these, and those are demonstrative adjectives.

For example:

  • This school is infinitely better than the last one I went to.
  • I think that book is mine.
  • These plants are particularly useful for brightening up shady areas.
  • Let me give you a hand with those bags.

Demonstrative Adjectives

Where To Place An Adjective In A Sentence

The Position of Adjectives in a Sentence

In order to ensure that you have a properly formed and grammatically correct sentence, it is important to position the adjectives in the correct place. We are now going to take a look at where the adjective should be placed within a sentence in order to make it sound as authentic as possible.

An attribute adjective is placed before the noun it is modifying. Let’s take a look at some examples of this.

  • She is a pretty girl.
  • This is my green dress.
  • Today, we will have heavy rain.
  • Ants have tiny legs.
  • It is a hot day.

You can also have a predicative adjective which is placed after the noun which it is modifying. Here are some examples to demonstrate this.

  • This sandwich is tasty.
  • The boy is tall.
  • My cats eyes are yellow.
  • The cake is not healthy.
  • My daughter is beautiful.

There is also the opportunity to place an adjective after certain verbs in order to modify them. This does not apply to all verbs, so let’s take a look at some examples verbs which can be modified with an adjective. It is worth noting that when using an adjective to modify a verb, the verb should come before the adjective, it will not sound correct if placed the other way around. The following verbs can be modified with an adjective.

  • appear
  • become
  • go
  • get
  • turn
  • feel
  • keep

Here are some examples of these verbs being modified with an adjective.

  • I feel amazing after my spa day.
  • He has become lazy having not had a job for weeks.
  • The dog appears aggressive.

You can also use an adjective after the verbs to smell, to taste, to sound and to look. Let’s take a look at some examples of the adjective placement for these verbs.

  • That pizza tastes fantastic.
  • The music sounds good.
  • It looks stunning.
  • That smells awful.

Adjectives Without A Noun

It is possible to use an adjective as a standalone word without a noun. This can be seen in an example such as the following. “He is rich” the adjective here is being used with the pronoun he, however this can be used on its own as simply describing something as “rich.” You might also use an adjective on it’s own in a sentence such as the following, “The largest must go at the back.”

Adjectives In Pairs

You might wish to use more than one adjective in order to give you sentence a very descriptive feel. For example, you might say “This is a large, red car.” or “I am a clever, thoughtful person.”

Order of Adjectives

Learn rules and examples for the order of adjectives in English. 

In general, the adjective order in English is:

order of adjectives

Comparison of Adjectives

Three forms of comparison of adjectives in English

  • Positive: it is an ordinary form of adjectives

A positive adjective is used to describe something without making any sort of comparison to anything else. For example, as seen in the sentence “I am kind.” or “This is a great movie.”

  • Comparative: shows when two persons or objects being compared

A comparative adjective is used in order to compare two things, it is quite often followed by the word than, you can see this is the following examples. “I am nicer than him.” or “This movie is better than the first one.”

  • Superlative: indicates that the quality or quantity is at its highest or is most intense

A superlative adjective is used as a way of comparing more than two things and as a way to say that the thing you are talking about is the ‘most’, you might notice this in the following examples. “I am the nicest of all the students.” or “This is the best movie out of the entire series.”

comparison of adjectives

Comparatives

Comparatives are used to compare and clarify the difference between two nouns. In other words, comparatives are used when two persons or objects being compared.

Learn Comparative Adjectives in English.

Comparatives

Superlatives

When an adjective compares three or more things, the superlative form of the adjective is used. Superlatives indicate that the quality or quantity is at its highest or is most intense.

Learn Superlative Adjectives in English.

Superlatives

Compound Adjectives

Compound adjectives are adjectives that are made up of two or more words usually with hyphens (-) between them.

Generally, compound adjectives can be formed as follows:

  • Adjective + Past participle
  • Adverb + Past Participle
  • Noun + Past Participle
  • Noun + Present Participle
  • Adjective + Present Participle
  • Adverb + Present Participle
  • Noun + Adjective
  • Adjective + Noun
  • Noun + Noun
  • Adjective + Adjective

Compound Adjectives

Adjectives Ending in -ED and -ING

Some adjectives, known as participles will end in the letters -ing or -ed. These are placed before a noun, as you can see in the following sentence “I saw an interesting documentary last night.” However, they are always placed before a verb, like in the following example, “I am not excited about the party.”

Learn the difference between Adjectives Ending in -ED and -ING with useful rules and examples.

List of Adjectives Ending in -ED and -ING

  • Amazing – Amazed
  • Amusing – Amused
  • Annoying – Annoyed
  • Boring – Bored
  • Challenging – Challenged
  • Charming – Charmed
  • Confusing – Confused
  • Convincing – Convinced
  • Depressing – Depressed
  • Disappointing – Disappointed
  • Disgusting – Disgusted
  • Disturbing – Disturbed
  • Embarrassing – Embarrassed
  • Entertaining – Entertained
  • Exciting – Excited
  • Exhausting – Exhausted
  • Depressing – Depressed
  • Disappointing – Disappointed
  • Fascinating – Fascinated
  • Frightening – Frightened
  • Frustrating – Frustrated
  • Inspiring – Inspired
  • Interesting – Interested
  • Pleasing – Pleased
  • Relaxing – Relaxed
  • Relieving – Relieved
  • Satisfying – Satisfied
  • Shocking – Shocked
  • Surprising – Surprised
  • Terrifying – Terrified
  • Threatening – Threatened
  • Thrilling – Thrilled
  • Tiring – Tired
  • Touching – Touched
  • Worrying – Worried

Adjectives Ending in -ED and -ING

Adjective Suffixes

Learn Common Adjective Suffixes in English.

Common Adjective Suffixes in English

  • -al, -ial, -ical
  • -able, -ible
  • -an, -ian
  • -ary
  • -full
  • -ic
  • -ive
  • -ish
  • -less
  • -like
  • -y
  • -ous, -ose
  • -ant, -ent
  • -ile

Adjective Suffixes

Adjectives To Describe Anything!

You can literally use an adjective to describe a whole wealth of things from how something appears to what it smells like or its size. We are now going to look at a few examples of adjectives to describe different things.

Taste

  • Delicious
  • Bland
  • Bitter
  • Sweet
  • Tasty

Touch

  • Soft
  • Windy
  • Oily
  • Smooth
  • Cold

Sound

  • Noisy
  • Whispering
  • Shrill
  • Silent
  • Hissing

Size

  • Gigantic
  • Huge
  • Minute
  • Tiny
  • Wee

Shape

  • Narrow
  • Hollow
  • Straight
  • Rotund
  • Crooked

Time

  • Late
  • Old
  • Slow
  • Speedy
  • Daily

Amount

  • Lots
  • Many
  • Ample
  • Sparse
  • Enough

Emotion

  • Excited
  • Amused
  • Kind
  • Grumpy
  • Boring

Personality

  • Generous
  • Happy
  • Smart
  • Sassy
  • Jaunty

Appearance

  • Attractive
  • Fat
  • Spotless
  • Confident
  • Plain

Situation

  • Nasty
  • Aromatic
  • Illegal
  • Rainy
  • Worse

Conclusion

Adjectives can be used in many ways and help the speaker or writer to better describe something, giving the audience a clearer picture about what is being discussed. Adjectives can come in various forms and depending on their form and what type of word they are modifying, will depend on where they are placed within a sentence.

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