11+ Types of Adjectives Used in English (with Examples)

Are you looking to add some variety and depth to your writing? One way to do so is by using different types of adjectives to describe the nouns and pronouns in your sentences. From descriptive adjectives to comparative and superlative adjectives, there are a variety of ways to add color and specificity to your writing. In this article, we’ll explore the different types of adjectives and provide examples of how to use them effectively in your writing. Whether you’re a seasoned writer or just starting out, this guide will help you take your writing to the next level.

Types of Adjectives: Descriptive Adjectives

Types of Adjectives: Definition and Examples Pin

What is a descriptive adjective in English? Generally, a descriptive adjective is probably what you think of when you hear the word “adjective.” Descriptive adjectives describe nouns and pronouns.

Descriptive adjectives are among the most common types of adjectives in English. They are used to modify or describe the qualities of nouns or pronouns, providing more information about their physical appearance, size, shape, color, and other attributes. This helps paint a more vivid picture of the subject in question, enabling better understanding and visualization for the reader.

In fact, descriptive adjectives can be categorized into attributive adjectives or predicate adjectives.

Attributive Adjectives

Adjectives that appear directly beside the noun, most commonly before, are called attributive because they attribute a quality to the noun they modify. And, more than one adjective can modify the same noun.


  • The flowers have a nice smell. (“Nice” is an attributive adjective, as it is placed).
  • The chatter made the room noisy. (This is an instance in which the attributive adjective appears directly behind the noun. “Noisy” is describing the “room.”)

Predicate Adjectives

Adjectives that appear after a linking verb are predicative adjectives because they form part of the predicate. Hence, they modify the subject of the sentence or clause (a clause is a portion of a sentence that contains a subject and a predicate).

Predicate adjectives can also be used with compound subjects, such as in the sentence “The children and their teacher were excited.” Here, “excited” is the predicate adjective used to describe both the children and their teacher. It is crucial to ensure the adjective accurately characterizes all parties involved in the compound subject for clarity and coherence.


  • The pickles are salty. (noun: pickle, linking verb: are, adjective: salty (describing the noun”pickles”))
  • Tornadoes appear menacing. (noun: tornadoes, linking verb: appear, adjective: menacing (describing the noun “tornadoes”))

Types of Adjectives: Limiting Adjectives

Limiting adjectives do as their name suggests, as they limit the noun being described. Generally, there are 11 types of limiting adjectives as follows:

  • Articulate Adjectives (Articles)
  • Possessive Adjectives
  • Demonstrative Adjectives
  • Indefinite Adjectives
  • Interrogative Adjectives
  • Cardinal Adjectives
  • Ordinal Adjectives
  • Quantitative Adjectives
  • Distributive Adjectives
  • Proper Adjectives
  • Nouns used as Adjectives

Definite & Indefinite Articles

There is only one definite articlethe. When used before a noun, it specifies a particular noun as opposed to anyone.


  • The cat (a specific, identifiable cat)
  • The cottages (specific, identifiable cottages)

There are two indefinite articlesa and an. These are used with a noun when a specific noun is not being pointed at.


  • A lion  (any lion)
  • An ant (any ant)

Possessive Adjectives

The possessive adjectives myyourhisheritsour, and their modify nouns by showing possession or ownership.


  • I left my key at home.
  • What is your phone number?
  • The bookstore sold his favorite book.
  • After many years, they returned to their homeland.
  • We’ll make our decision and contact the people involved.
  • The cat chased its ball down the stairs and into the backyard.

Demonstrative Adjectives

What are demonstrative adjectives in English?

The demonstrative adjectives “this,” “these,” “that,” “those,” and “what” are identical to the demonstrative pronouns, but are used as adjectives to modify nouns or noun phrases.


  • That dog is so adorable.
  • He lives in this house.
  • My friend preferred those plates.
  • These books are too expensive.

The relationship between a demonstrative adjective and a demonstrative pronoun is similar to the relationship between a possessive adjective and a possessive pronoun, or to that between an interrogative adjective and an interrogative pronoun.

Interrogative Adjectives

What is an interrogative adjective in English?

An interrogative adjective (“which” or “what”) is like an interrogative pronoun, except that it modifies a noun or noun phrase rather than standing on its own (see also demonstrative adjectives and possessive adjectives).


  • Which method is likely to produce the best results?
  • What subject did you enjoy most?

Indefinite Adjectives

What is an indefinite adjective in English?

An indefinite adjective is similar to an indefinite pronoun, except that it modifies a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase.


  • Many people continue to ignore warnings about the dangers of sunbathing.
  • The examiners can pitch on any student to answer questions.
  • There were a few people sitting at the back of the hall.
  • All children should be taught to swim.

Cardinal Adjectives

Cardinal adjectives, also known as cardinal numbers, indicate quantity. They include numbers like onetwothree, and so on.


  • Five pens
  • Six tables

Ordinal Adjectives

Ordinal adjectives show the order or position of items in a sequence and include words like firstsecondthird, and so on.


  • The first date
  • The third month

Proper Adjectives

Proper adjectives are derived from proper nouns (names, places, etc.). They are always capitalized. Examples include AmericanBritishChinese, and Shakespearean


  • Japanese food
  • Russian opera

Quantitative Adjectives

Quantitative adjectives describe the extent or degree of a noun. They are often used with countable and uncountable nouns. Common examples include muchlittlemanyfew, and enough


  • She has many friends.
  • There is not much sugar left.

Distributive Adjectives

Distributive adjectives are used to describe individual items or parts within a group. Examples include eacheveryanyeither, and neither


  • Each student must complete the assignment.
  • Neither option is appealing.

Proper Adjectives

Proper adjectives are derived from proper nouns (names, places, etc.). They are always capitalized. Examples include AmericanBritishChinese, and Shakespearean


  • The French cuisine is known for its quality.
  • She loves Victorian architecture.

Nouns Used as Adjectives

Sometimes nouns can be used as adjectives to define or describe another noun.


  • The computer exhibition
  • history teacher

Comparative and Superlative Adjectives

Comparative and superlative adjectives are special types of adjectives used when comparing two or more things. They help in making comparisons and expressing differences between items. Comparative adjectives are used to compare two things, while superlative adjectives are used to compare three or more things.

Comparative Adjectives often end in -er or are accompanied by the word more. They are used to show how one item is different from another. For example:

  • She is taller than her sister.
  • That painting is more beautiful than the other one.

There are some irregular comparative adjectives that don’t follow the usual pattern, such as betterworse, and further.

Superlative Adjectives usually end in -est or are accompanied by the word most. They are used to show that one item stands out from the rest. For example:

  • Everest is the highest mountain in the world.
  • That’s the most interesting book I have read this year.

Like comparative adjectives, there are some irregular superlative adjectives, including bestworst, and furthest.

Here is a table showcasing examples of comparative and superlative adjectives:

Base Adjective Comparative Adjective Superlative Adjective
Small Smaller Smallest
Fast Faster Fastest
Beautiful More beautiful Most beautiful
Bad Worse Worst

Adjectives Ending in -Ed, -En, and -Ing (Participle Adjectives)

Adjectives are an essential part of the English language, used to describe or modify nouns and pronouns. Among the various forms of adjectives, those ending in -ed and -ing are particularly common. They are derived from verbs and are known as participle adjectives or participles.

-Ed, -En adjectives typically represent past participles, indicating a completed action or state. They often describe feelings or emotions experienced by a person or the state of an object due to an action. For example:

  • Broken – If you ever leave him, he will be left with a broken heart.
  • Confused – The instructions left him feeling confused.
  • Frustrated – They were frustrated with the lack of progress.

-Ing adjectives, on the other hand, represent present participles that describe an ongoing action or state. These adjectives are used to convey an object or person’s characteristics or the effect they have on others. For instance:

  • Amazing – The amazing fireworks display captivated the audience.
  • Confusing – The instructions were confusing for some participants.
  • Frustrating – The lack of progress has been frustrating for everyone involved.

Sometimes, both -ed and -ing adjectives can be used to describe the same noun or pronoun. In these cases, the -ed adjectives describe how someone feels, while the -ing adjectives describe the cause of the feeling. For example:

  • Bored (feeling) vs. Boring (cause) – She was bored with the boring lecture.
  • Excited (feeling) vs. Exciting (cause) – He was excited about the exciting game.

Compound Adjectives

Compound adjectives are multi-word adjectives, typically consisting of two or more words combined to describe a noun. These combinations of words convey a specific meaning and are often hyphenated to emphasize that they function as a single adjective. Compound adjectives can be formed using various combinations of nouns, adjectives, and participles.

For example, compound adjectives can be created by combining:

  1. Noun + Adjective: Examples of this type are “world-famous,” “sugar-free,” and “skill-based.”
  2. Adjective + Noun: Examples include “strong-willed,” “high-quality,” and “short-lived.”
  3. Noun + Noun: Examples are “school-wide,” “software-defined,” and “five-dollar.”
  4. Present Participles: These compound adjectives use the -ing form of a verb and can be combined with other nouns or adjectives, such as “fast-growing,” “self-cleaning,” and “sun-loving.”
  5. Past Participles: These are formed with the -ed or -en form of a verb, like “broken-hearted,” “sun-dried,” and “well-mannered.”

Hyphens play an important role in compound adjectives, connecting the words to show that they function as a single adjective. Although generally used for compound adjectives, there may be instances when the words are not hyphenated, especially if the meaning is well-established or clear without a hyphen.

In addition to the hyphenated forms, there are also open and closed compound adjectives. Open compound adjectives consist of separate words without a hyphen, while closed compound adjectives are written as single words without a space or hyphen. Examples of open compound adjectives are “ice blue” and “general purpose,” whereas examples of closed compound adjectives include “bittersweet” and “worldwide.”

Adjectives Used as Nouns

In some instances, adjectives can also be used as nouns. This usually occurs when the adjective represents a specific group or category, allowing it to function as a noun in a sentence. In these cases, the adjective-noun combination is often preceded by an article (such as “the” or “a”) or another modifier that highlights the adjective’s role as a noun.

For example, take the sentence “The rich should pay higher taxes.” Here, the adjective “rich” functions as a noun, representing a group of wealthy people. Another example can be found in the sentence “The elderly need special care.” In this case, the adjective “elderly” serves as a noun, referring to older individuals as a group.

It is important to understand that not all adjectives can be used as nouns. Generally, only those adjectives that indicate a specific group or category of people, things, or ideas can function as nouns. Some common examples include:

  • The poor (referring to people living in poverty)
  • The young (referring to people who are not old)
  • The blind (referring to people who cannot see)
  • The disabled (referring to people with disabilities)

When using adjectives as nouns, it is essential to ensure that the context makes it clear that the adjective is, in fact, functioning as a noun. This will help readers or listeners easily understand the intended meaning of the sentence.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main categories of adjectives?

The main categories of adjectives can be classified into attributive, predicative, comparative, superlative, coordinate, appositive, and compound adjectives. Attributive adjectives are placed directly before the noun they modify, while predicative adjectives come after the noun they describe and are typically connected by a linking verb.

How can adjectives be classified based on degree?

Adjectives are often classified based on their degree of comparison. They can be identified as positive, comparative, or superlative adjectives. The positive degree is the base form of the adjective, while the comparative degree shows a comparison between two nouns or pronouns, and the superlative degree indicates the highest level of comparison among three or more nouns or pronouns.

What are descriptive adjectives?

Descriptive adjectives are words that provide more information about a noun or pronoun by describing its traits, qualities, or characteristics. They help paint a clearer picture in the reader’s mind by giving interesting and specific details about the noun or pronoun being modified.

How do quantifiers function as adjectives?

Quantifiers are words or phrases that indicate the quantity or amount of a noun or pronoun. They function as adjectives by providing information on the number or amount of the noun or pronoun they are describing. Examples of quantifiers include “some,” “many,” “all,” “several,” and “few.”

What are possessive adjectives?

Possessive adjectives are used to indicate ownership or possession in a sentence. They come before the noun being modified and identify the owner or possessor of the noun. Some common possessive adjectives include “my,” “your,” “his,” “her,” “its,” “our,” and “their.”

How do demonstrative adjectives work?

Demonstrative adjectives point out specific nouns or pronouns in a sentence. They usually come before the noun or pronoun they modify and help identify which particular object, person, or place is being referred to by the speaker or writer. The main demonstrative adjectives in English are “this,” “that,” “these,” and “those.”

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