Adjectives play a crucial role in the English language, adding depth and specificity to communication. These descriptive words modify nouns or pronouns, providing more information about people, places, or things.
Adjectives can be used in many ways and help the speaker or writer to better describe something, giving the audience a clearer picture of 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.
In this article, we are going to be looking at what exactly an adjective is as well as how it functions within a sentence with adjective examples.
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 flavor 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 to 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.
Types of Adjectives in English
Descriptive adjectives express a quality or attribute of a noun. They are typically used to paint a picture and provide more information about a noun. Examples of descriptive adjectives include:
- Color: red, blue, green
- Size: large, small, narrow
- Shape: square, round, triangular
- Touch: smooth, rough, spiky
Some sentences with descriptive adjectives:
- She has a long and wavy hair.
- The old man walked slowly down the narrow street.
Demonstrative adjectives are used before a noun to clarify ‘which one’ is being referred to. The words this, that, these, and those are demonstrative adjectives.
- This book is interesting.
- Those houses are expensive.
Interrogative adjectives are adjectives that are used to ask questions, and they come before a noun. The primary interrogative adjectives are what, which, and whose.
- Which car do you prefer?
- Whose jacket is this?
Possessive adjectives show ownership or possession of something. They include words such as my, your, his, her, its, our, and their.
- This is her umbrella.
- The dog wagged its tail.
Quantitative adjectives indicate the quantity of a noun or pronoun. They can be exact (specific numbers) or approximate (words like few, many, several, etc.).
- She has three apples.
- He has many friends.
Proper adjectives are derived from proper nouns and are therefore capitalized. They often describe nationalities, languages, or ethnicities, as well as words derived from individual names.
- The Japanese culture is fascinating.
- The Orwellian society is well-known in literature.
English has a specific order for arranging adjectives before a noun. This is important to ensure that sentences sound natural and are easily understood. The proper order for adjectives in English is as follows:
Opinion adjectives reflect a speaker’s perspective or belief about a noun. These adjectives usually come first in the order. Examples include:
Size adjectives describe the dimensions or proportions of a noun. They often follow opinion adjectives. Examples include:
Age adjectives indicate the relative age or newness of a noun. They come after material adjectives. Examples include:
Shape adjectives describe the geometric form or outline of a noun. They come after size adjectives. Examples include:
Color adjectives describe the hue or shade of a noun. They are placed after shape adjectives. Examples include:
Origin adjectives describe where the noun is made or comes from. Examples include:
Material adjectives indicate what a noun is made of. They follow color adjectives. Examples include:
When using more than one adjective before a noun, it is essential to arrange them in the proper order to ensure clarity and natural sentence structure. For instance, consider the following example:
- Incorrect: She saw a red old small hat.
- Correct: She saw a small old red hat.
Here, the correct order is size (small), age (old), and color (red).
In addition to the order of adjectives, it’s important to note the difference between attributive and predicative adjectives. Attributive adjectives come directly before the noun they modify, while predicative adjectives are found after a linking verb (e.g., “to be”).
- Attributive: The green car is parked outside.
- Predicative: The car outside is green.
Using the proper adjective order, as well as distinguishing between attributive and predicative functions, helps create clear and natural language in English.
How Important Are Adjectives?
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 short, an adjective is a part of speech that is common and people use it almost automatically, both in speech and in writing.
More about Adjectives
Questions to Identify Adjectives
We can usually identify an adjective by asking specific questions like how many, what color, which one, or what type. The answers to the above questions help illuminate the adjectives present in the sentence.
Do Not Overuse Adjectives
When writing you want to choose adjectives that enhance your writing. Select adjectives that give your writing purpose. While adjectives can add specificity to nouns, they can also weigh your text down if used indiscriminately. Avoid adding adjectives to make your writing pretty. Do not use adjectives to compensate for weak nouns. Instead, choose stronger nouns.
We can grade most adjectives. That is to say, adjectives allow alterations of their meaning by adverbs. Examples of adverbs include extremely, slightly fairly, and very. When pairing gradable adjectives with adverbs we can adjust their intensity.
- The ship was very big.
- She moved extremely slow.
Adjective or Adverb
- Adjective: The girl is bad.
- Adverb: The girl performed badly in the final test.
In the first example, the girl is being modified. In the second, the girl’s moves are being addressed.
Examples of Adjectives in Detail
Descriptive Adjectives Examples
The most commonly thought of adjectives are descriptive. They help make our writing more clear and precise. Descriptive adjectives accomplish this task by modifying a pronoun or noun with an attribute. Hence, this type of adjective will come before a noun or pronoun.
- The blue dog saved the day.
- The horrid woman cursed at me.
- The smiling cat hid behind the couch.
Distributive Adjectives Examples
Distributive adjectives point to a particular noun. Usually, these adjectives appear before the noun they wish to modify. In addition, they tend to accompany singular nouns.
Any, each, every, neither, and either are examples of distributive adjectives.
- I do not want either jacket.
- I do not want any candy.
- Each choice is miserable.
Possessive Adjectives Examples
Possessive adjectives suggest ownership. Examples of possessive adjectives include the following: her, his, their, whose, your, its, our, and my.
- I liked his song.
- I love your jacket.
- I lost our money.
Interrogative Adjectives Examples
Adjectives that ask a question are interrogative. What, which, and whose are interrogative adjectives.
- Whose shoes did you take?
- Which dress will you wear?
- What dog did you adopt?
Indefinite Adjectives Examples
Not all adjectives make nouns more specific. Indefinite adjectives are non-specific. Examples of indefinite adjectives include no, few, any, several, and many.
- I saw several friends over the holiday season.
- I have few friends.
- I have no family.
Sequence Adjectives Examples
Sequence adjectives assign numbers to nouns; however, they do not demonstrate order with ordinal numbers.
- I enjoyed the first read.
- I was the second child.
- My third doctor made a difference.
Proper Adjectives Examples
Proper nouns birth proper adjectives. That is, proper adjectives forms from proper nouns. It is essential to capitalize these adjectives to stay true to the proper noun from which they arise.
- I have a German grandmother.
- She enjoyed Shakespearean plays.
- Canada is an English and French-speaking country.
Quantitative Adjectives Examples
Quantitative adjectives alter pronouns and nouns numerically. They answer questions of how much or how many.
- She wants three children.
- She keeps her four dogs in the house.
- I have two jackets from which to choose.
Examples of Adjectival Nouns
When a noun modifies another noun it becomes a functioning adjective. We call these transformed nouns adjectival nouns or noun modifiers.
- Sports car
- strawberry salad
Alternatively, adjectives can masquerade as nouns. This occurs when groups of people are being described. The modified noun disappears and the adjective adopts the noun’s placement.
- The young people would change to the young.
These adjectives always follow the.
More Examples of Descriptive Adjectives
You can 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.
Different Forms of Adjectives
There are different forms of adjectives, including comparative, superlative, and absolute adjectives. This section will briefly discuss these forms and provide examples to illustrate their use.
Comparative adjectives are used to compare two things or people, indicating a higher or lower degree of a certain quality. To form a comparative adjective, the following rules can be applied:
- For one-syllable adjectives, add
-erto the end of the adjective (e.g.,
- For two-syllable adjectives ending in
-ypreceded by a consonant, change the
- For adjectives with two or more syllables, use
lessbefore the adjective (e.g.,
Here’s a table to illustrate the formation of comparative adjectives:
Superlative adjectives are used to compare three or more things or people, indicating the highest or lowest degree of a certain quality. To form a superlative adjective, follow these rules:
- For one-syllable adjectives, add
-estto the end of the adjective (e.g.,
- For two-syllable adjectives ending in
-ypreceded by a consonant, change the
- For adjectives with two or more syllables, use
leastbefore the adjective (e.g.,
Here’s a table to illustrate the formation of superlative adjectives:
Absolute adjectives describe a quality that cannot be compared or intensified. They represent a state or condition that is either present or absent, with no degrees in between. Some common examples of absolute adjectives include:
Since these adjectives indicate an absolute state, they should not be used with comparative or superlative forms.
Where to Place an Adjective in a Sentence
Three types of placement adjectives exist. Attributive adjectives come before the noun they modify. A clear day is an example of this type.
Predicate adjectives, the second type of adjectives, follow a linking verb. These adjectives include seemed, are, am, is, was, were, and looked. “I was famished after dinner” is an example of this type of adjective.
Finally, postpositive adjectives follow immediately after a pronoun or noun. The phrase tickets available provides an example of a postpositive adjective.
Positions of Adjectives in a Sentence in Detail
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. The following verbs can be modified with an adjective.
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.”
In Noun Phrases
In English grammar, adjectives typically modify nouns and are usually placed before the noun they modify. There are certain rules for adjective placement in noun phrases:
Opinion adjectives (e.g., nice, good) come before fact adjectives (e.g., new, old). For example:
- A beautiful old house (beautiful = opinion, old = fact)
General adjectives (e.g., old, hot) come before more specific or identifying adjectives (e.g., wooden, Italian). For example:
- A small wooden chair (small = general, wooden = specific)
Appositives are noun phrases that follow and provide additional information about another noun. When using adjectives in an appositive, they should be placed before the noun they modify, just as they would be in a standard noun phrase. For example:
- My friend, the talented artist, won the competition.
- They visited the famous landmark, the ancient temple.
Attributive Nouns as Adjectives
Attributive nouns are nouns that function as adjectives by modifying another noun. In this case, the attributive noun comes directly before the noun it modifies. For example:
- School bus (school = attributive noun, bus = noun)
- Chocolate cake (chocolate = attributive noun, cake = noun)
We can use two adjectives to describe a noun. To make our writing flow nicely we use a coordinate and cumulative adjectives.
Two adjectives of equal weight constitute coordinate adjectives. We separate them with a comma.
- The girl had a vibrant, gorgeous smile.
A cumulative adjective has two adjectives that build upon each other. There order only works one-way to create meaning. These adjectives cannot have the word and separate them.
- The sickly sweet smile scared everyone.
Compound adjectives in this category consist of at least two hyphenated words.
She loved her six-foot snake.
Linking verbs connect the subject of a sentence to a word or phrase that provides more information about the subject, often used with adjectives. Examples of common linking verbs include: be, seem, feel, and become.
- The apple is red. (Here, “is” is a linking verb connecting “apple” to “red”)
Predicate adjectives are adjectives that follow a linking verb and describe the subject of the sentence. They provide more information about the subject’s qualities, states, or attributes.
- The flower smells lovely. (Here, “lovely” is a predicate adjective describing the smell of the flower)
Attributive adjectives are adjectives that directly modify a noun and usually come right before the noun.
- The red balloon floated away. (Here, “red” is an attributive adjective describing the color of the balloon)
Participles are verb forms ending in ‑ing (present participles) or -ed or -en (past participles) that can be used to modify nouns. They can act as adjectives or be part of the verb phrase.
|Participle Type||Example Verb||Example as Adjective|
|Present||Laugh||The laughing child|
|Past||Broken||The broken glass|
Past participles are verb forms ending in -ed or -en typically. They function as adjectives when modifying nouns, expressing the action or state of being completed.
- The shattered window. (Here, “shattered” is a past participle adjective derived from the verb “shatter”)
Present participles are verb forms ending in -ing. They can serve as adjectives when modifying nouns, conveying an ongoing action or state.
- A growing tree. (Here, “growing” is a present participle adjective derived from the verb “grow”)
Adjectives and Other Parts of Speech
Adjectives are an essential part of speech that modify and describe nouns. Nouns, on the other hand, are words that represent a person, place, thing, or idea. For example, consider the sentence: “The beautiful flowers bloomed in the garden.” Here, “beautiful” is the adjective that modifies the noun “flowers.”
When using adjectives effectively, it is crucial to understand their relation with other parts of speech, such as nouns, pronouns, and adverbs.
Pronouns are words used to replace or refer to nouns, preventing repetition within a sentence. While adjectives modify nouns, they can also modify pronouns in certain contexts, helping to provide more detailed information. For example, in the sentence “She was the smartest in the room,” “smartest” is an adjective that modifies the pronoun “she.”
|He||tall||He is tall.|
|She||happy||She is happy.|
|It||small||It is small.|
While adjectives modify nouns and pronouns, adverbs serve to modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. Adverbs often describe how, when, or where something happens. Although adjectives and adverbs serve different purposes, they are still interrelated in a sentence. In some cases, adjectives transform into adverbs by adding the suffix “-ly” to the adjective. For example, “She read the book quickly.” Here, “quickly” is an adverb derived from the adjective “quick.”
- Adjective: quick, slow, loud
- Adverb: quickly, slowly, loudly
Understanding the relationships and differences between adjectives and other parts of speech like nouns, pronouns, and adverbs can significantly enhance a person’s writing skills by enabling them to convey more precise and detailed information.
Common English Adjectives
Adjectives are essential in English as they help to provide more information about nouns and describe characteristics. In this section, we focus on some common English adjectives that are frequently used in everyday conversations and writing.
Using Adjectives Effectively
The tone of your writing significantly impacts how your message is perceived. To use adjectives effectively, ensure that the adjectives you choose align with the intended tone. For example:
- Positive Tone: “The beautiful, sunny day invigorated the cheerful crowd.”
- Negative Tone: “The dreary, overcast day dampened the spirit of the discontented crowd.”
Using Specific Adjectives
Expanding your vocabulary will allow you to select precise adjectives that accurately convey the desired meaning. Try to avoid using generic adjectives such as “good,” “bad,” or “nice” when more specific words will provide clearer information. Some examples include:
|Good||Fantastic, superb, excellent|
|Bad||Awful, terrible, dismal|
|Nice||Pleasant, delightful, amiable|
Qualifiers help to provide context and nuance to your choice of adjectives. When used appropriately, they can enhance the accuracy and depth of your writing. Common qualifiers include:
- Intensifiers: Strengthen the meaning of the adjective (e.g., very, extremely, quite)
- Diminishers: Weaken the meaning of the adjective (e.g., slightly, barely, somewhat)
Here are some examples of how to use qualifiers with adjectives:
- Intensifier Example: “The performance was extremely impressive, leaving the audience in awe.”
- Diminisher Example: “The lecture was slightly confusing, leading to some misunderstandings among the students.”
FAQs on Adjectives
What are adjectives?
Adjectives are words that describe the qualities or states of being of nouns. For example, adjectives can describe size, texture, color, quantity, or emotions. They serve to provide more specific information about a noun or pronoun, making sentences more informative and interesting.
How are adjectives used in sentences?
Adjectives typically appear directly before the noun they modify, but they can also follow a linking verb like “be” or “seem.” Here are a few examples:
- The tall man entered the room.
- She has curly hair.
- The soup was delicious.
- The car seems fast.
What are comparative and superlative adjectives?
Comparative adjectives are used to compare two things, while superlative adjectives are used to describe the highest degree of quality among three or more things. For example:
- Comparative: The blue car is faster than the red car.
- Superlative: The blue car is the fastest of all the cars.
To form comparatives and superlatives, add the suffixes “-er” and “-est” to short adjectives, or use “more” and “most” before longer adjectives:
- Short adjectives: small → smaller → smallest
- Long adjectives: beautiful → more beautiful → most beautiful
Can adjectives be used to describe other adjectives?
Yes, adjectives can also modify other adjectives, giving more precise information about the noun under discussion. Here’s an example:
- The car is a dark blue.
In this case, “dark” is an adjective modifying the adjective “blue,” which is describing the noun “car.”
Are there any rules for the order of adjectives in a sentence?
When using multiple adjectives to describe a noun, there is a general order to follow:
- Determiners (articles, possessives, and numbers): a, the, her, two
- Opinion: beautiful, delicious, ugly
- Size: big, small, tall
- Age: old, young, ancient
- Shape: round, square, rectangular
- Condition: broken, sick, new
- Color: red, green, blue
- Origin: American, Spanish, Thai
- Material: wooden, steel, plastic
- Purpose/Qualifier: sports (as in “sports car”), sleeping (as in “sleeping bag”)
For example: “She wore an old red Italian silk dress.”
- Types of Adjectives
- Compound Adjectives
- Adjectives Ending in -ED and -ING
- Adjective Suffixes
- Adjectives & Prepositions
- Adjective Phrase
- Adjective Clause
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