Adjectives in English

Revisado porSana Liashuk / más sobre Proceso editorial
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Whether you’re looking to improve your writing skills or learn the basics of English, adjectives are an important part of the language. Adjectives are words that help us modify nouns or pronouns, and can make your writing more vivid and descriptive.

They're one of the most important elements of grammar in English. Adjectives help describe things, giving more information about them and making your sentences more meaningful. The  can modify nouns or pronouns, and there are different types of adjectives to choose from depending on what you want to describe. Let’s dive into some of the most common types of adjectives, and explore how to use them correctly in your writing.

What is an Adjective?

Adjective definition: words that describe or modify another person or thing in a sentence. For example, in the sentence “The large, red house is beautiful,” the word “large” and “red” are both adjectives because they describe the house. Adjectives can come before the word they modify, or they can follow the word they modify.

Adjectives can also help compare two things. For example, you could say, “This book is thicker than that one.” In this sentence, the word “thicker” is an adjective because it is comparing the two books.

Adjectives in English

Types of Adjectives

There are many different types of adjectives in English. Here are some of the most common:

Possessive Adjectives

Possessive adjectives indicate ownership or possession. They are usually used to show that something belongs to a person or thing. For example, “my” is a possessive adjective that shows that something belongs to me. 

They are some of the most commonly used types of adjectives in the English language and are typically made up of only one word.

10 possessive adjective examples:

  1. My
  2. Your
  3. His
  4. Her
  5. Its
  6. Our
  7. Their
  8. Whose
  9. Anybody's 
  10. Nobody's

Predicate Adjective

Predicate adjectives are used to describe the subject of a sentence. For example, “The cat is cute.” In this sentence, “cute” is a predicate adjective because it is describing the cat.

Predicate adjectives can also be used as modifiers in a sentence, such as in “The funny cat made me laugh.” In this sentence, “funny” is the predicate adjective because it is modifying the cat. Predicate adjectives can also come after a linking verb, such as “She looks beautiful today.” In this sentence, “beautiful” is the predicate adjective because it describes how she appears to others.

10 predicate adjective examples:

  1. Stunning
  2. Lovely
  3. Charming
  4. Joyful
  5. Adorable
  6. Impressive 
  7. Fabulous 
  8. Magnificent 
  9. Splendid 
  10. Astonishing

Demonstrative Adjectives

Demonstrative adjectives are used to point out specific nouns or pronouns. They include words like “this,” “that,” “these,” and “those.” For example, “This book is my favorite.” In this sentence, “this” is a demonstrative adjective because it is pointing out the specific book.

Demonstrative adjectives can also be used to indicate distance. For example, “This book is over there”. In this sentence, “this” indicates that the book is close by, and “over there” indicates that the book is further away. They can also express preference. For example, you could say, “This book is better than that one.” In this sentence, “better” is a demonstrative adjective because it is comparing the two books and indicating that one is preferred to the other.

Demonstrative adjective examples:

  1. That
  2. These
  3. Those
  4. One
  5. Any
  6. None
  7. Each
  8. All

Descriptive Adjectives

Descriptive adjectives are used to describe nouns or pronouns. They can be used to describe size, shape, color, age, and many other characteristics. For example, “The blue sky was beautiful.” In this sentence, “blue” is a descriptive adjective because it is describing the sky.

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Comparison of Adjectives

There are two ways to compare adjectives:

Comparative Adjectives

Comparative adjectives help us compare two things. For example, “This car is faster than that one.” In this sentence, “faster” is a comparative adjective because it is comparing the two cars.

The comparative form of an adjective is typically made by adding “-er” to the end of the basic adjective. For example, “big” can become “bigger” when making comparison of adjectives. Some adjectives have irregular comparative adjective forms, such as “good’ and “bad,” which can be compared with “better” and “worse.

Superlative Adjectives

Superlative adjectives help us compare three or more things. For example, “This car is the fastest of all.” In this sentence, “fastest” is a superlative adjective because it is comparing three or more cars.

The superlative form of an adjective is typically made by adding “-est” to the end of the basic adjective. For example, “big” can become “biggest” when making comparisons. Some adjectives have irregular superlative forms of adjectives, such as “good’ and “bad,” which can be compared with “best” and “worst.”

Compound Adjectives

Compound adjectives are made up of two or more words. For example, “He had a well-deserved vacation.” In this sentence, “well-deserved” is a compound adjective because it is made up of two words.

When using compound adjectives, it’s important to remember that the adjective parts of the phrase should always be in alphabetical order. For example, “This is a long, narrow house.” In this sentence, “long” and “narrow” are both adjectives, so they should be written in alphabetical order. However, some compound adjectives have different rules for where they should go in a sentence – for example, “dead tired” would be placed after the noun it is describing rather than before it.

It’s also important to note that compound adjectives are not hyphenated when used in a sentence. For example, “He had a well deserved vacation” would not be written as “well-deserved.”

Order of Adjectives

When using multiple adjectives to describe something, it’s important to know the correct order. Generally, the order of adjectives is opinion, size, age, shape, color, origin, material, and purpose. For example, “She wore a beautiful, red, silk dress.” In this sentence, the adjectives are in the correct order: opinion, size, color, material.

Some adjectives, such as “good” and “bad,” can be at the beginning or the end of your list. In general, if there are more than two adjectives being used to describe something, they should be put in front of the noun they are describing. However, if there is only one or two adjectives, the order doesn’t matter.

With multiple adjectives that are used to describe a noun, it’s important to remember that they should be in descending order of importance. For example, if you would say “The red car is fast,” then the adjective “red” should be placed before “fast.” However, if you would say “The fast car is red,” then the adjective “red” should be placed after “fast.” Adjectives that are used to show quantity or number can also go in any order.

Adjectives Examples

Here are some examples of adjective words in sentences:

  • “The old man shuffled slowly.” (“Old” is an adjective describing the man.)
  • “She had a long, brown hair.” (“Long” and “brown” are adjectives describing the hair.)
  • “This is the best strawberry cake I’ve ever had.” (“Best” is an adjective comparing the cake to others.)
  • “He bought a brand-new car.” (“Brand-new” is a compound adjective describing the car.)

List of Adjectives

There are a few different types of adjectives, and the list is long. Here are some of the most used adjectives in the English language:

  • Good
  • Bad
  • Big
  • Small
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Rich
  • Poor
  • Young
  • Old
  • Hot
  • Cold
  • Dry
  • Wet
  • Easy
  • Hard
  • Long
  • Short
  • Loud
  • Quiet
  • Famous
  • Unknown
  • Fresh
  • Stale
  • Bright
  • Dull
  • Light
  • Heavy

Adjectives Ending in -ED and -ING

Adjectives can also end in -ED and -ING. These adjectives describe how something looks, feels, or sounds. For example, “The looked bored.” In this sentence, “bored” is an -ED adjective because it describes how the person looks.  Similarly, “The music sounded exciting.” In this sentence, “exciting” is an -ING adjective and it describes how the music sounds.

When using adjectives that end in -ED or -ING, it’s important to remember that these adjectives can be before or after the noun they are describing. In general, if there are other adjectives present, they should be placed in front of the noun. For example,  “The excited dancers were performing a complicated routine.” In this sentence, “excited” and “complicated” are both used to describe the dancers, so they should be placed in front of them.

However, if there is only one or two adjectives being used to describe something, the order of their placement doesn’t matter. For example, “The excited children were jumping up and down.” In this sentence, both “excited” and “jumping” are present, so they should be placed in front of “children.” However, if the sentence read “The jumping children were excited,” then the adjective “excited” would go after the noun it is describing.

Adjective Suffixes

Adjectives can also have suffixes that change the meaning of the word. For example, adding the suffix -able to the word “understand” will create the adjective “understandable.” Other common adjective suffixes include -ful, -less, and -ish. Each suffix can create many different adjectives depending on the word they are used with.

For example, the suffix -ful can be used with many different words to create adjectives, such as “hopeful” and “thoughtful.” Similarly, the suffix -less can be used with a variety of words to create adjectives like “useless” and “meaningless.”

Adjectives and Prepositions

Adjectives & Prepositions often come together. For example, “The cat is afraid of the dog.” In this sentence, “afraid” is an adjective that is used with the preposition “of.” Prepositions are used to describe relationships between different words in a sentence, and they can be used with many different adjectives.

Some common adjective prepositions include “of,” “to,” “at,” and “for.” It’s important to remember that an adjective and a preposition cannot be used at the same time – for example, “The cat is afraid with the dog.” In this sentence, “afraid” would have to be an adverb, not an adjective.

Adjective Phrase

An adjective phrase is a phrase that modifies a noun or pronoun. For example, “The cat with the black fur is mine.” In this sentence, “with the black fur” is an adjective phrase because it is modifying the cat.

Adjective phrases can be made up of single words, but they often consist of multiple words. For example, “The man who won the race is very excited.” In this sentence, “who won the race” describes which man the speaker is talking about, and it is an adjective phrase because it modifies the noun “man.”

Adjective Clause

An adjective clause is a clause that modifies a noun or pronoun. For example, “The cat that I bought is mine.” In this sentence, “that I bought” is an adjective clause because it is modifying the cat.

Like other clauses, an adjective clause can be made up of a subject and a verb. It can also contain relative pronouns like “that” or “which,” as well as other descriptive words. Adjective clauses can be used to describe whole nouns, or they can be used to replace the noun with a pronoun.

For example, “The cat, which was very small and cute, belonged to my little sister.” In this sentence, “which was very small and cute” is an adjective clause that describes the cat.

Summary

Now you know how to identify adjectives in English! They can be used to describe nouns and pronouns, compare two things, and modify other words in a sentence. By understanding the what are adjectives that describe things, you can improve your writing and become more fluent as a speaker.

Whether you’re writing an essay, a blog post, or anything else, knowing how to use adjectives effectively is essential. So next time you’re struggling with your writing or speaking, be sure to add great adjectives to your sentences.

Looking for additional resources on adjectives? Explore some of our other articles on grammar and writing. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced English learner, there’s something here for everyone! Happy studying! :)​

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