English Language


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The Basics of English Adjectives

In the English language, words are divided into different categories known as parts of speech based on their function in a sentence. There are nine main parts of speech in English, including nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, pronouns, determiners, conjunctions, and interjections. In this article, we will specifically focus on adjectives and how they add meaning to sentences.

What is an Adjective?

An adjective is a word that describes or gives more information about a noun or pronoun. It is often referred to as a "describing word" because it adds detail to a noun, such as color, size, or quantity. Adjectives are crucial in making sentences more descriptive and meaningful.

Examples of Adjectives

The English language has a vast array of adjectives that can modify and enhance the meaning of a noun. In the following examples, the adjectives and nouns have been highlighted to emphasize their role in the sentence:

  • A beautiful forest
  • A meaningful gift
  • An old car
  • The baby's first word
  • A red book
  • A relaxed outfit
  • He was happier than her
  • The tallest boy in the class
  • My car
  • That tree over there
  • American football

The Order of Adjectives

When using multiple adjectives in a sentence, they must follow a specific order. For example:

The blue old big car drove down the lane.

Doesn't it sound awkward? That's because there is a prescribed order in which adjectives should be placed. Let's rearrange the adjectives to the correct order:

The big old blue car drove down the lane.

Doesn't that sound better? Native English speakers often know this order naturally, but non-native speakers may struggle to learn it.

Post-modification Adjectives

In post-modification, an adjective is positioned after a noun to provide additional information. For instance:

  • The car will be red.
  • The man was ugly.
  • The hamster is happy.
  • The noise was loud.

These adjectives are called predicative adjectives. They follow an auxiliary verb like "is," "was," or "seems."

Types of Adjectives

Adjectives can be grouped into various types based on their role in a sentence. The main types of adjectives are:

  • Descriptive adjectives
  • Evaluative adjectives
  • Quantitative adjectives
  • Interrogative adjectives
  • Proper adjectives
  • Demonstrative and indefinite adjectives
  • Possessive adjectives
  • Compound adjectives
  • Degree of comparison adjectives (positive, comparative, and superlative)

Descriptive Adjectives

Descriptive adjectives, also known as qualitative adjectives, are used to describe a characteristic or quality of a person, thing, or object. They provide additional information about a noun or pronoun. For example:

In the sentence, "the red car," the adjective "red" describes the color of the car.

Evaluative Adjectives

Evaluative adjectives express an individual's opinion about a noun. For example:

  • The exam was difficult.
  • The cake was delicious.

In both cases, the adjectives "difficult" and "delicious" convey an opinion rather than a fact.

Quantitative Adjectives

Quantitative adjectives indicate the quantity of the noun, answering questions like "how much?" or "how many?" For example:

  • I have three bags.
  • It took some time.

Interrogative Adjectives

Interrogative adjectives are used to ask questions and include words like "whose," "which," and "what." They must come before a noun or pronoun to function as an adjective. For example:

"Whose drink is this?"

Proper Adjectives

A proper adjective acts as an adjective but is formed from a proper noun. For example:

English is a proper noun that can serve as an adjective in the sentence, "That's my English homework."

Demonstrative and Indefinite Adjectives

Demonstrative adjectives specifically point to something or someone, while indefinite adjectives are used to refer to a general concept. Examples of demonstrative adjectives include "this," "that," "those," and "these."

Indefinite adjectives are words that provide specific information about a noun. Some common examples include "some," "any," "many," "few," "most," and "much."

Possessive Adjectives

Possessive adjectives show possession and indicate that a noun belongs to someone or something. These adjectives, including "his," "hers," "our," and "their," must come before the noun. Otherwise, they are considered possessive pronouns.

Compound Adjectives

Compound adjectives are formed by joining two or more words and are used to describe a noun. These adjectives are usually connected by a hyphen or set off by quotation marks. For example:

"The pole was ten feet high." and "He gave her his 'be quiet' eyes."

Degrees of Comparison in English Grammar

When comparing two or more nouns, adjectives can provide additional information about the extent of the comparison. There are three types of adjectives used in comparisons: positive, comparative, and superlative.

The initial form of an adjective is known as the positive degree, which is the basic and unchanged form of the adjective (e.g. fast, slow, big). The positive degree can then be altered to create comparative and superlative adjectives, which demonstrate different levels of comparison. For instance, smaller and less heavy are comparative forms of adjectives, indicating a lower degree compared to other nouns. These adjectives are formed by adding the suffix '-er' to the word "less." Similarly, bigger and more powerful are superlative adjectives, representing the highest or greatest degree of a quality. These adjectives are formed by adding the suffix '-er' to the word "more."

Comparative and superlative adjectives are examples of grading, meaning that an adjective can have a higher or lower degree of quality depending on what it refers to.

Irregular Forms of Comparative and Superlative Adjectives

Some adjectives have irregular forms when transformed into comparative or superlative degrees. A prime example of this is the adjective "good," which becomes "better" in the comparative form and "best" in the superlative form.

Similarly, the adjective "bad" changes to "worse" in the comparative form and "worst" in the superlative form.

Absolute Adjectives

Absolute adjectives, such as "perfect," "empty," "infinite," and "supreme," are qualitative adjectives that cannot be graded, intensified, or compared to something else. They are already in their ultimate form and do not have comparative or superlative degrees.

Other adjectives, like "British," "Northern," "Annual," and "Rural," describe categories or groups rather than degrees of comparison and do not have comparative or superlative forms.

Adjective Phrases

An adjective phrase is a group of words led by an adjective that functions as an adjective in a sentence. It offers additional description or modifies a noun.

What is an Adjective?

An adjective is a word that modifies a noun and gives more information about it. It can describe features, qualities, or characteristics of the noun, such as color, size, or quantity.

Examples of Adjectives

Some examples of adjectives include qualitative adjectives, which describe a feature of a noun, such as "red," and evaluative adjectives, which express an opinion about a noun, such as "difficult." Others may indicate a degree of comparison, like "better," while superlative adjectives compare nouns to the highest or most extreme degree, such as "best."

Types of Adjectives

The main types of adjectives include descriptive, evaluative, quantitative, interrogative, proper, demonstrative, possessive, compound, and degrees of comparison.


To summarize, understanding the different types of adjectives and their degrees of comparison is crucial in mastering the English language. By learning these concepts, you can effectively modify and enhance your writing and communication skills.

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