What is an adjective?
An adjective is a word that is used to say something about a noun or pronoun or to describe a noun or pronoun in any way. That is to say, an adjective is used in a sentence for a noun in order to describe a noun in a more specific way.
Identifying an adjective:
Generally, we can pick an adjective out from a sentence if a word tells anything of the following about a noun or pronoun,
- What kind? What is someone/something like?
- How many?
- Which one?
then you can be pretty much sure that the word that has been used to describe one of the above is an adjective.
- He is a tall man. (What kind? ‘tall’. Giving more information about a man.)
- That is a very big house. (What kind? ‘big’. Giving more information about the noun ‘house’.)
- There are three books on the table. (How many? ‘three’. Giving more information about the noun ‘books’.)
- I saw five men over there. (How many? ‘five’. Giving more information about the noun ‘men’.)
- I want that book on the table. (Which one? ‘that’. Giving more information about the noun ‘book’.)
- This year he is going to have a test on TOEFL. (Which year? ‘this’. Giving more information about the noun ‘year’.)
Identifying an adjective by how the word ends:
The best way of recognizing an adjective is by looking at the use of the word in the sentence. However, sometimes we can identify an adjective by how the word ends. But again, remember about the condition of being an adjective, and that is: a word should describe a noun in any way. If that word does not describe a noun, that word is not an adjective. This is a very simple rule of being an adjective.
- If a word ends in -able or -ible, it is usually an adjective. e.g., capable, suitable; responsible, terrible, etc.
- If a word ends in -able or -ible, it is usually an adjective. e.g., capable, suitable; responsible, terrible, etc.
- If a word ends in -tive or -sive, it is usually an adjective. e.g., active, comparative; massive, passive, etc.
- If a word ends in -ic or -ical, it is usually an adjective. e.g., athletic, energetic; magical, musical, etc.
- If a word ends in -ant or -ent, it is usually an adjective. e.g., constant, transplant; intelligent, silent, etc.
- If a word ends with -ful, or -ous, it is usually an adjective. e.g., careful, helpful; conscious, glorious, etc.
- If a word ends with -ish or noun + like, it is usually an adjective. e.g., childish, selfish; childlike, manlike, etc.
- If a word ends in a noun + ly, it is usually an adjective. e.g., friendly, lovely, bodily, fatherly, heavenly, etc.
- If a word ends in -y or -less, it is usually an adjective. e.g., angry, busy, easy, happy, nasty; careless, motionless, helpless, etc.
How an adjective is used in a sentence:
Now we will know how an adjective is used in sentences. Adjectives are used in two ways in the sentences. They are:
- Attributive use
- Predicative use
When an adjective is used before a noun to tell something about that noun is called an attributive adjective, and the way it is used is called attributive use of an adjective.
Structure: Adjective + Noun.
- Willam is a good boy. (Adjective + Noun).
- This is a beautiful house. (Adjective + Noun).
- Flora is an intelligent student. (Adjective + Noun).
When an adjective is used in the predictive part of the sentence and tells something about the noun used in the subjective part is called a predicative adjective, and the way it is used is called predicative use of an adjective.
- William is intelligent.
- This house is beautiful.
- This table is big.
In the above sentences, adjectives and nouns did not sit side by side. The adjective sits after the verb. Although the adjective sits after the verb, it is describing the noun. If anybody wants to know: ‘What William is like?’ Then the answer would be: ‘intelligent’. Again, if anybody wants to know: ‘What is the house like?’ Then the answer would be: ‘beautiful’. In the same way, if anybody wants to know: ‘What is the table like?’ Then the answer will be ‘big‘.
Remember: Only Descriptive adjectives can be used in the attributive and predicative form. All other forms/types of adjectives are used only in the attributive form.
Form / Degree of an adjective:
Most descriptive adjectives can be expressed in three ways to describe a noun precisely. It is called the form or degree of an adjective. They are:
- comparative, and
Remember: No other form of adjectives has the quality of being used in the above three forms.
When an adjective used in a sentence is not used to make a comparison, then the form of that adjective is called positive. For example: good, fine, big, beautiful, etc.
When an adjective used in a sentence is used to make a comparison between two persons or objects, then that form of the adjective is called comparative form. For example: better, finer, bigger, more beautiful, etc.
When an adjective used in a sentence is used to make a comparison between more than two persons or objects, then that form of the adjective is called superlative form. For example: best, finest, biggest, most beautiful, etc.
Remember: Only Descriptive adjectives can be used in the positive, comparative, and superlative form. All other forms/types of adjectives have no such forms/types. So, they cannot be used in three different ways.
Types/classifications of adjectives:
Adjectives are of five types. They are:
- Descriptive Adjective
- Number or Quantity Adjective
- Demonstrative Adjective
- Possessive Adjective
- Interrogative Adjective
1. – Descriptive Adjective:
A descriptive adjective is one that describes a noun, that is person, place, or thing, telling what they are like, or what that noun is like. Most of the descriptive adjectives have their positive, comparative, and superlative forms.
- They love to live in a large city.
- I live in a small room.
- Mark is a nice person.
- I am happy that I have passed the test.
- A bad workman cannot succeed in life.
- Willam bought an attractive mobile phone.
- We ate some yummy food in an Italian restaurant.
List of some important descriptive adjectives:
This is the list of some important descriptive adjectives. This will also help enrich your vocabulary. So, memorize these words for your use in your speaking and writing.
Proper Descriptive Adjectives:
When a descriptive adjective is formed from a proper noun to describe a person, object, place, or any other type of noun, then that adjective is called a proper descriptive adjective. The first letter of such adjectives will be in capital letters.
- I will eat dinner at an Italian restaurant.
- My teacher is teaching me English grammar.
- American English is cool to hear than British English.
Compound Descriptive Adjectives:
Sometimes we will find that a descriptive adjective is formed by combining more than one word. When a descriptive adjective is formed with more than one word, it is called a compound descriptive adjective.
- Absent-minded: Mark is an absent-minded student.
- English-speaking: The best way to learn to speak English is to stay in an English-speaking country for a few months.
- Full-time: Mark is a full-time worker at this factory.
- Good-looking: Vanessa is a good-looking young girl.
- High-spirited: He is a high-spirited political leader.
- Kind-hearted: A kind-hearted police officer helped find the hospital.
- Life-giving: Prayer to our Creator is the most effective life-giving force.
- Long-lasting: Love is necessary for a long-lasting relationship.
- Last-minute: That was my last-minute decision that I would study medicine.
- Middle-aged: Our president is a middle-aged man.
- Mouth-watering: Mangoes are mouth-watering fruit for me.
- Red-blooded: That bad police officer looked at me with red-blooded eyes.
- Never-ending: Learning a new language is a never-ending process.
- Next-door: My next-door neighbor always helps me to go to the hospital.
- Out-fashioned: This is an old-fashioned technique to reach the goal.
- Part-time: Mark is a part-time worker at this factory.
- Self-centered: Mark is not a self-centered man.
- Short-tempered: Mark is not a short-tempered man.
- Well-known: Mark is a well-known teacher of English.
- Well-educated: He is a well-educated person.
- World-famous: Newton is a world-famous scientist.
Remember: No ‘-s’ is used at the end of compound adjectives with numbers:
- I have a three-year-old daughter.
- I have written a twenty-page essay on human behavior.
- After long work, he has taken a six-day break.
When to use a hyphen, and when not to use?
When a compound adjective comes before a noun the hyphen is used. But when the compound adjective is used after the noun, the hyphen is not used.
- This is a world-famous cancer hospital.
- This hospital is world famous.
- This is a well-written book.
- This book is well written.
How to use descriptive adjectives when there is more than one in a sentence?
If necessary we can use more than one descriptive adjective to describe a noun. When more than one descriptive adjective needs to be used, the question arises which adjective to use first and which after. For this reason, it is necessary to know the order of use of the descriptive adjective. Multiple descriptive adjectives are to be used in the following order.
- A / an / the / his / her / this / that / their / one / two etc.
- Quality or opinion
- Size / shape
- Age, numerical age for the person, and new, old for the object.
- Color (Black, yellow, green, etc.)
- Nationality (Bangladeshi, Japanese, etc.) /
- This is a beautiful, long, black, American pen.
- This is an expensive, new, white Japanese car.
- Look at that wonderful, old table clock.
2. – Number or Quantity Adjective:
If a number or a quantitative word is used before a noun and if it expresses the number or quantity of the noun, then it is a Number or Quantity Adjective.
Clarification: It is because the information a number or a quantitative word gives is how many or how much about the noun. That is to say, the number or quantity has the quality of modifying a noun and thus becomes a number or quantity adjective.
Adjective of Number:
The words that are mainly used as an Adjective of Number are: one, two, three, first, second, third, some, several, few, a few, many, etc. This Adjective expresses the number of somebody or something.
- I have fifty students who are learning English from me.
- One student has one pencil for writing notes.
- There are 4 Pillows.
- They have more than 100 employees in their chocolate factory.
- I bought some apples for my family members.
- They have three dogs to guard their house..
- He had many friends during his college life.
- My teacher has only one website for online teaching.
- I bought several pencils from a store.
- Most young boys like cricket in Bangladesh.
Adjective of Quantity:
The words that are mainly used as an Adjective of Quantity are:
much, some, little, a little, full, half, huge, vast, enough, etc.
- I am going to make some coffee for my friends.
- Now I have enough time for learning English.
- My grandfather told me the whole story to teach the value of honesty.
- Mark has little interest in French.
- That day all students were present in the class to learn English.
- That day my teacher did not have much time to spend with me.
- Mark has not much time to finish his assignment.
- William possesses vast wealth to support his family.
3. – Demonstrative Adjective:
Demonstrative Adjectives are words that sit directly before a Noun and point directly to that Noun. Demonstrative Adjective is the answer to the question of ‘which one’.
When the Demonstrative Adjective is used:
There are two uses of the demonstrative adjective.
- Firstly: This Demonstrative Adjective is used to mean when you want to speak clearly about a person or an object, or to indicate that the person or object is either near or far, singular or plural, etc.
For example, look at this sentence. ‘This watch is beautiful’. The word ‘this’ has been used for the word ‘watch’ and to mean ‘a particular watch which is near the speaker’. Emphasis will be put on the word ‘beautiful’.
- Second: When you want to talk about a person or object with an emphasis.
For example: This watch is marvelous. By showing that special ‘watch’, it is said that particular ‘watch’ is marvelous. Here the emphasis will be put on the word ‘this’.
Difference between a Demonstrative Adjective and a Demonstrative Pronoun:
Let’s try to understand the difference between a demonstrative and a demonstrative pronoun.
We can show a shirt and describe it in two ways. For example: we can say:
- This shirt is my favorite.
The word ‘This’ has been used before a noun ‘shirt’. In the same way, if the words, ‘this, that, these, and those’ are used before a noun, it will be used as a Demonstrative Adjective.
If I show you this same shirt again and say:
- This is my favorite shirt.
Notice here that there is no Noun after the word ‘this’.
The rule is, when there is a noun word after ‘this, that, these, and those’, it will be a Demonstrative Adjective. If there is no noun after one of these words, then that will a demonstrative pronoun.
Use of Demonstrative Adjectives in sentences:
- Give me that pen for writing a letter.
- This time I will help you learn French perfectly.
- They wanted those books for learning English.
- Mark wanted to give you this shirt as a gift.
- These apples are delicious.
- That day I took an English test.
- Those people were very kind to us.
- Don’t give me a call. I am very busy at this moment.
4. -Possessive Adjective:
A possessive adjective is a word that precedes a noun and modifies the noun by implying that it is the possessor or owner of the noun.
Main possessive adjectives are: my, your, his, her, our, their, and its.
- I use my computer for keeping the information of my business.
- My father helps me learn English.
- Somebody took my pen without my permission.
- My daughter is going to school.
- Students could not understand his instructions.
- I could not understand his intention.
- They are happy about their success.
- Our English teacher is very sympathetic to us.
- Open my drawer and you will find my pen.
Differences between Possessive Pronoun and Possessive Adjective:
- Possessive Pronoun words are used for a Noun or to mean a Noun or to replace a Noun. Possessive adjective words, on the other hand, do not mean a noun or replace any noun.
- Possessive Pronoun words do not express ownership, Possessive adjective words express ownership.
- Possessive Pronoun words do not precede nouns, Possessive adjective words always precede nouns.
- A noun can be used as a Possessive adjective using apostrophe + ‘s’, but it is not possible with Possessive Pronoun. e.g. Mark’s computer is very powerful. This is Mark’s computer.
- A gerund is not used after Possessive Pronoun words, but Gerund may be used after Possessive adjective words. e.g. They did not like my going with them. I thanked him for his understanding of what I said.
Below are the forms of Personal Pronoun (used as a subject, and used as an Object), Possessive Adjective, Possessive Pronoun, and Reflexive Pronoun as a review:
(used as a subject)
(used as an object)
|Possessive Adjectives||Possessive Pronouns|
|it||it||its||no possessive pronoun||itself|
Before understanding Interrogative Adjective, you need to know more about Interrogative Pronouns. Without understanding what interrogative pronouns are and how they are used, interrogative adjectives can be confused with each other, without a clear idea about which one.
What is an Interrogative adjective?
The word ’interrogative’ means ’questionable’, and ’adjective’ is a word that is used to say something about the noun. Therefore, we can say that the interrogative word that sits before a noun and creates a question about that noun is called an Interrogative Adjective.
Which words are used as Interrogative Adjectives:
There are in total three words that are generally used as interrogative adjectives. They are: What, Which, and Whose. These words are used before a noun to ask questions about a noun.
- What time will you go there?
- What books will you take from me?
- Which books do you want?
- Which house do you live in?
- Whose pen shall I borrow to write this?
- Whose book is this?
- Whose car was that?
Differences between Interrogative Adjectives and Interrogative Pronouns:
- An interrogative adjective modifies a noun, but an Interrogative pronoun is used in the sentence to mean a noun or in place of a noun.
- An interrogative adjective is followed by Noun, Interrogative Pronoun is followed by a verb.
- Which notebook is yours? (Interrogative adjective)
- Which is your notebook? (Interrogative pronoun)
- What fruit is your favorite? (Interrogative adjective)
- What is your favorite fruit? (Interrogative pronoun)
- Which laptop is yours? (Interrogative adjective)
- Which is your laptop? (Interrogative pronoun)