English Grammar 101: Adjectives

By Maeve Maddox

An adjective is a word that describes a noun. There are two kinds: attributive and predicative.

An adjective is used attributively when it stands next to a noun and describes it:
The black cat climbed a tree.

NOTE: The verb participle forms can be used as adjectives:
The man felt a paralyzing fear. Flavored oatmeal tastes better than plain oatmeal.

The usual place of the adjective in English is in front of the noun. You can have a whole string of adjectives if you like: The tall thin evil-looking cowboy roped the short, fat, inoffensive calf.

Sometimes, for rhetorical or poetic effect, the adjective can come after the noun:
Sarah Plain and Tall (book title)
This is the forest primeval.

An adjective is used predicatively when a verb separates it from the noun or pronoun it describes:
The umpire was wrong.
The crowd was furious.
She seems tired today.
This soup tastes bad.
The dog’s coat feels smooth.

The verbs that can be completed by predicate adjectives are called being verbs or copulative verbs. They include all the forms of to be and sensing verbs like seem, feel, and taste.

Adjective Classifications
qualitative: good, bad, happy, blue, French
possessive: my, thy, his, her, its, our, your, their
relative and interrogative: which, what, whatever, etc.
numeral: one, two, second, single, etc.
indefinite: some, any, much, few, every, etc.
demonstrative: this, that, the, a (an), such

NOTE: the demonstrative adjectives the and a (an) are so important in English that they have a special name: articles. They are discussed separately (i.e. coming soon).

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8 Responses to “English Grammar 101: Adjectives”

  • balen

    love knows no law.

  • Dan

    This is a great article; concise and well written.

    Excellent!

  • PRAKASH

    Though I am suffering from writing phobia,I am confident I can be a successful olumnist,critic may be contravertial but always afraid of wrong spelling ,composition of senteces…..can anyone help me to boost my morales.

  • PRAKASH

    I am suffering from the writing phobia though I believe I canbe a successful columnist if I take up writing seriously and also versitle critic

  • Maeve

    Prakash,
    You’ve taken the first step towards improving your writing by taking the trouble to correct your first comment. (Spell check would have caught “versatile”.)

    I think that you would enjoy the DWT Forum and find a lot of helpful material there. 🙂

  • Makara Chan

    I would like to get successfull in learning English Grammer start from the Begging and the English article.

  • subora

    i would like to suggest any one who knows 1001 adjectives for villains

    thank u sabrina and famaily

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