Adjectives describe nouns and pronouns in a sentence or in other words adjectives modify nouns and pronouns.
Adjectives define characteristics of nouns and pronouns such as appearance, colour, size, shape, personality, feelings, conditions etc. In this way adjectives differentiate nouns and pronouns from one another.
The red pencil on the table is not mine.
Here, ‘red’ describes the noun, ‘pencil’, which doesn’t belong to me. By using ‘red’ I could differentiate the pencil, which is not mine from the other pencils on the same table. Therefore, ‘red’ is the adjective of the sentence.
Adjectives can come either before or after a noun.
An adjective that comes before a noun is an ‘Attributive adjective’.
The blue sky. – Here, the adjective ‘blue’ comes before the noun, ‘sky’. Therefore, it is an ‘attributive adjective’.
An adjective that comes after a noun is a ‘Predicative adjective’.
The sky is blue. – Here, the adjective ‘blue’ comes after the noun, ‘sky’. Therefore, it is a ‘predicative adjective’.
Look at the following examples. There can be more than one adjective in a sentence. The words in bold are the adjectives of each sentence.
All these adjectives can be grouped into different types of adjectives.
Types of adjectives
Qualitative adjectives are also called adjectives of quality or descriptive adjectives. These adjectives describe the quality or nature of the noun or pronoun by giving an idea about the characteristics of the noun or pronoun, such as appearance, positive or negative personality, colour, shape, size, time, sound, touch, taste, condition etc.
Look at the following examples of adjectives of quality or qualitative adjectives or descriptive adjectives.
Quantitative adjectives are also called adjectives of quantity. Quantitative adjectives or adjectives of quantity are used with uncountable nouns. They show an approximate amount of the noun or pronoun. So, we can ask questions with ‘how much’.
Look at the following examples of quantitative adjectives or adjectives of quantity. Each sentence talks about an approximate amount of something, but not the exact amount.
In some cases, adjectives of quantity such as some, no, enough, all, most, any, few etc. are used with countable nouns too. Then these adjectives will become ‘indefinite numeral adjectives’ and the questions should be asked with ‘how many’. We will discuss this in the next type of adjectives.
Adjectives of number are used with countable nouns. They show the exact number of the noun or pronoun. So, we can ask questions with ‘how many’.
Adjectives of number can be classified into different groups. They are;
Definite numeral adjectives describe the exact number of nouns, and also their place in a certain order. Cardinal numbers (one, two three etc.) are used to denote the exact number of nouns or pronouns whereas ordinal numbers (first, second, third etc.) are used to denote the position of the nouns or pronouns in a certain order.
Look at the following examples of definite numeral adjectives.
Indefinite numeral adjectives denote an approximate amount of countable nouns, instead of the exact number. So, we can ask questions with ‘how many’. Some, many, few, several, no, enough, all, most, any are some examples of indefinite numeral adjectives. Some of these adjectives are also used as ‘quantitative adjectives or adjectives of quantity’, which we have already learnt above.
Look at the following examples of indefinite numeral adjectives.
Distributive numeral adjectives refer to singular number of nouns within the whole amount. Every, each, either, neither, another and other are some examples of distributive numeral adjectives.
Look at the following examples of distributive numeral adjectives.
If you carefully look at these examples, you can notice that each distributive numeral adjective is followed by a singular noun and a verb.
However, if you use the word ‘of’ immediately after a distributive numeral adjective, make sure to use the plural noun instead.
We know that a proper noun is a name given to a person, place, or thing to make the noun more specific and it always begins with a capital letter. For example; Jane, Melbourne, January, Friday etc.
When these proper nouns describe other nouns or pronouns, then they become ‘proper adjectives’.
Look at the following table of proper nouns and their proper adjectives.
Now look at the following examples of proper adjectives.
A demonstrative adjective modifies a noun or pronoun by its position as near or far or in time. This, that, these, and those are examples of demonstrative adjectives. ‘This’ and ‘that’ modify singular nouns while ‘these’ and ‘those’ modify plural nouns. Also, ‘this’ and ‘these’ modify nouns which are near or present at the moment whereas ‘that’ and ‘those’ modify nouns which are farther away or existed in the past. A demonstrative adjective can always be seen before a noun.
Look at the following examples of demonstrative adjectives.
Please note ‘demonstrative adjectives’ are different from ‘demonstrative pronouns’ as demonstrative pronouns do not modify nouns or pronouns.
Examples of demonstrative pronouns
Possessive nouns show the ownership of something to someone or something. My, his, her, your, our, and their are some examples of possessive adjectives. Possessive adjectives are followed by nouns.
Look at the following examples of possessive adjectives.
Interrogative adjectives ask questions. Examples of interrogative adjectives are ‘which’, ‘what’ and ‘whose’. An interrogative adjective is always followed by a noun or a pronoun. These words will not be interrogative adjectives if a noun or pronoun does not follow them.
Look at the following examples of interrogative adjectives.
Coordinate adjectives describe a series of attributes of the same noun or pronoun. The attributes must be separated by commas to avoid confusions when reading the sentence.
Look at the following examples of how to use coordinate adjectives.
These adjectives in the series neither use commas nor the conjunction ‘and’ to separate the adjectives, or else the sentence does not make sense.
Look at the following examples of how to use non-coordinate adjectives.
Compound nouns or words separated by a hyphen or joined together by quotation marks that modify other nouns or pronouns are called compound adjectives.
Look at the examples of compound adjectives.
Positive, Comparative, and Superlative are the three degrees of adjectives.
Comparative and superlative forms of adjectives are used when comparing two or more nouns using adjectives.
Look at the following examples.
‘The’, ‘a’ and ‘an’ are articles. Articles modify nouns. ‘The’ modifies specific nouns whereas ‘a’ and ‘an’ modify non-specific nouns.
Look at the following examples.
‘Own’ and ‘very’ are examples of emphasizing adjectives. ‘Own’ is usually used to emphasize possessive adjectives.
Look at the following examples of how to use ‘own’ as an emphasizing adjective.
Look at the following examples of how to use ‘very’ as an emphasizing adjective.
Exclamatory adjectives are used to show emotions. ‘What’ and ‘how’ are usually used as exclamatory adjectives as they are often used to express strong emotions and surprises. ‘What’ is also an interrogative adjective. The exclamation mark, ‘!’ is used at the end of a sentence with an exclamatory adjective.
Look at the following examples of exclamatory adjectives.