Adjective - Introduction, Types, Order and Example

Adjective - Introduction, Types, Order and Example

Adjective - Introduction, Types, Order and Example
Adjective - Introduction, Types, Order and Example

Introduction

What is an Adjective?

adjective (noun): a part-of-speech that modifies or describes a noun or a pronoun
An adjective is one of the eight parts of speech.
An adjective is a word that tells us more about a noun. It "describes" or "modifies" a noun (The big dog was hungry). In these examples, the adjective is in bold and the noun that it modifies is in italics.
An adjective often comes BEFORE a noun:
  • green car
  • dark sky
  • an interesting story
And sometimes an adjective comes AFTER a verb:
  • My car is green.
  • The sky became dark.
  • His story seemed interesting.
But adjectives can also modify pronouns (She is beautiful). Look at these examples:
  • They were empty.
  • I thought it seemed strange.
  • Those are not expensive.
Note that we can often use two or more adjectives together (a beautiful young French lady / it is black and white).

Adjective Form

Some adjectives have particular endings, for example:
  • -able/-ible: washable, credible
  • -ish/-like: childish, childlike
  • -ful/-less: careful, careless
  • -ous: dangerous, harmonious
  • -y: dirty, pretty
However, many adjectives have no obvious form.

Comparative, Superlative

Most adjectives can be comparative or superlative, for example:
  • big, bigger, biggest
  • good, better, best
  • beautiful, more beautiful, most beautiful

Types of Adjectives

Comparative Adjectives

When we talk about two things, we can "compare" them. We can see if they are the same or different. Perhaps they are the same in some ways and different in other ways. We can use comparative adjectives to describe the differences.

Formation of Comparative Adjectives

There are two ways to make or to "form" a comparative adjective:
  • short adjectives: add "-er"
  • long adjectives: use "more"
Short adjectives: add -erexamples
1-syllable adjectivesold, fast
2-syllable adjectives ending in -yhappy, easy
RULE: add "-er"old → older
Variation: if the adjective ends in -e, just add -rlate → later
Variation: if the adjective ends in consonant, vowel, consonant, double the last consonantbig → bigger
Variation: if the adjective ends in -y, change the y to ihappy → happier
Long adjectives: use moreexamples
2-syllable adjectives not ending in -ymodern, pleasant
all adjectives of 3 or more syllablesexpensive, intellectual
RULE: use "more"modern → more modern
expensive → more expensive
With some 2-syllable adjectives, we can use "-er"  OR "more":

quiet → quieter/more quiet
clever → cleverer/more clever
narrow → narrower/more narrow
simple → simpler/more simple
Exception: The following adjectives have irregular forms:

good → better
well (healthy) → better
bad → worse
far → farther/further

Use of Comparative Adjectives

We use comparative adjectives when talking about 2 things (not 3 or 10 or 1,000,000 things, only 2 things).
Often, the comparative adjective is followed by "than".
Look at these examples:
  • John is 1m80. He is tall. But Chris is 1m85. He is taller than John.
  • America is big. But Russia is bigger.
  • I want to have a more powerful computer.
  • Is French more difficult than English?
If we talk about the two planets Earth and Mars, we can compare them as shown in the table below:
EarthMars
Diameter (km)12,7606,790Mars is smaller than Earth.
Distance from Sun (million km)150228Mars is more distant from the Sun.
Length of day (hours)2425A day on Mars is slightly longer than a day on Earth.
Moons12Mars has more moons than Earth.
Surface temperature (degrees Celcius)22-23Mars is colder than Earth.

Superlative Adjectives

A superlative adjective expresses the extreme or highest degree of a quality. We use a superlative adjective to describe the extreme quality of one thing in a group of things.
We can use superlative adjectives when talking about  three or more things (not two things).

Formation of Superlative Adjectives

As with comparative adjectives, there are two ways to form a superlative adjective:
  • short adjectives: add "-est"
  • long adjectives: use "most"
Short adjectives
1-syllable adjectivesold, fast
2-syllable adjectives ending in -yhappy, easy
RULE: add "-est"old → the oldest
Variation: if the adjective ends in -e, just add -stlate → the latest
Variation: if the adjective ends in consonant, vowel, consonant, double the last consonantbig → the biggest
Variation: if the adjective ends in -y, change the y to ihappy → the happiest
Long adjectives
2-syllable adjectives not ending in -ymodern, pleasant
all adjectives of 3 or more syllablesexpensive, intellectual
RULE: use "most"modern → the most modern
expensive → the most expensive
Exception: The following adjectives have irregular forms:
  • good → the best
  • bad → the worst
  • far → the farthest/furthest


Use of Superlative Adjectives

We use a superlative adjective to describe one thing in a group of three or more things. Look at these examples:
  • John is 1m75. David is 1m80. Chris is 1m85. Chris is the tallest.
  • Canada, China and Russia are big countries. But Russia is the biggest.
  • Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world.
If we talk about the three planets Earth, Mars and Jupiter, we can use superlative adjectives as shown in the table below:
EarthMarsJupiter
Diameter (km)12,7606,790142,800Jupiter is the biggest.
Distance from Sun (million km)150228778Jupiter is the most distant from the Sun.
Length of day (hours)242510Jupiter has the shortest day.
Moons1216Jupiter has the most moons.
Surface temp. (degrees Celcius)22-23-150Jupiter is the coldest.

Order

Adjective Order

There are 2 basic positions for adjectives:
  1. before the noun
  2. after some verbs (be, become, get, seem, look, feel, sound, smell, taste)
adj.
before
noun
adj.
after
verb
1I have abigdog.
2Snowiswhite.

Adjective Before Noun

We often use more than one adjective before the noun:
  • I like big black dogs.
  • She was wearing a beautiful long red dress.
What is the correct order for two or more adjectives?
1. First of all, the general order is:
opinionfact
"Opinion" is what you think about something. "Fact" is what is definitely true about something.
  • a lovely new dress (not a new lovely dress)
  • a boring French film (not a French boring film)
2. The "normal" order for fact adjectives is
size, shape, age, colour / origin / material / purpose
  • small 18th-century French coffee table
  • rectangular black wooden box
3. Determiners usually come first, even though some grammarians regard them as fact adjectives:
  • articles (a, the)
  • possessives (my, your...)
  • demonstratives (this, that...)
  • quantifiers (some, any, few, many...)
  • numbers (one, two, three)
Note that when we want to use two colour adjectives, we join them with "and":
  • Many newspapers are black and white.
  • She was wearing a long, blue and yellow dress.
Here are some examples of adjective order:
adjectiveshead noun
determineropinion adjectivesfact adjectives
othersize, shape, age, colouroriginmaterialpurpose*
twouglyblackguarddogs
awell-knownChineseartist
asmall, 18th-centuryFrenchcoffeetable
yourfabulousnewsportscar
alovelypink and greenThaisilkdress
someblackSpanishleatherridingboots
abig black and whitedog
thischeapplasticraincoat
anoldwoodenfishingboat
mynewtennisracket
awonderful15th-centuryArabicpoem
*often a noun used as an adjective

Adjective After Verb

An adjective can come after some verbs, such as: be, become, feel, get, look, seem, smell, sound
Even when an adjective comes after the verb and not before a noun, it always refers to and qualifies the subject of the clause, not the verb.
Look at the examples below: subject verb adjective
  • Ram is English.
  • Because she had to wait, she became impatient.
  • Is it getting dark?
  • The examination did not seem difficult.
  • Your friend looks nice.
  • This towel feels damp.
  • That new film doesn't sound very interesting.
  • Dinner smells good tonight.
  • This milk tastes sour.
  • It smells bad.
These verbs are "stative" verbs, which express a state or change of state, not "dynamic" verbs which express an action. Note that some verbs can be stative in one sense (she looks beautiful | it got hot), and dynamic in another (she looked at him | he got the money). The above examples do not include all stative verbs.
Note also that in the above structure (subject verb adjective), the adjective can qualify a pronoun since the subject may be a pronoun.

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