Adjective, Kinds of Adjectives, Position of Adjectives, Order of Adjectives, Using Adjectives correctly
What is an Adjective
Before we understand how adjectives are used correctly, let’s understand the concept of adjective first.
A word that describes a noun or a pronoun, or tells the number or quantity of a noun or pronoun, is called an Adjective. So words CLEVER, THAT, TWO and LITTLE all are adjectives in the following sentences:
a) She gave me two pencils.
b) She doesn’t like that boy.
c) There is little time for preparation.
d) Raman is a clever boy.
1. Kinds of Adjectives
Adjectives may be divided into following classes:
A) Qualitative Adjectives (or Descriptive Adjectives)
They show the kind or quality of a person or thing; e.g.
clever, foolish, dry, fat, golden, good, heavy, square, own, very, etc.
a) The foolish old crow tried to sing.
b) Mind your own business.
c) She is an honest girl.
d) That is the very thing we want.
e) India is a big country.
B) Numerical Adjectives
i) Definite Numeral Adjectives
CARDINAL: one, two, three four, etc.
ORDINAL: first, second, third, fourth, etc.
MULTIPLE: single, double, triple, etc.
a) I have three pens.
b) Sunday is the first day of the week.
c) Sachin Tendulkar made a triple century in the first innings of the match.
ii) Indefinite Numeral Adjectives
Many, a great many, a good many, many a, several, various, numerous, a lot of, lots of, plenty of, some, enough; e.g.
a) There are no dolls with us.
b) Most people like to watch cricket matches on the T.V these days.
C) Quantitative Adjectives
few, any, no, all, great, half, sufficient, whole, little, much, a lot of, lots of, a great deal of, plenty of, some, enough
a) This pot has little sugar.
b) I don’t have much money now.
c) She didn’t want half share of the property.
D) Distributive Adjectives
They refer to each one of a number; e.g. each, every, either, neither, etc.
a) The police want to interview every employee about the theft.
b) Either candidate would be ideal for the job.
c) Neither person is at fault.
d) Each student will be given a chance.
E) Demonstrative Adjectives
They point out which person or thing is meant; e.g. this, that, these, those, yonder, such, etc.
a) This book is mine, not yours.
b) Why are you in such a hurry?
F Interrogative Adjectives
They are used with nouns to ask questions; e.g. what, which and whose
a) Whose pen is this?
b) Which way should we go?
NOTE-I: WHAT is used in a general sense, and WHICH in a selective sense.
NOTE-II: WHAT is sometimes used as Exclamatory Adjective; e.g.
a) What a shot!
b) What an idea!
c) What a piece of work is man!
G) Possessive Adjectives
my, our, your, his, her, their, its, one’s
H) Exclamatory Adjectives
What nonsense this is!
2. Position of Adjectives
Adjectives can be used in two ways namely attributive use and predicative use.
i) When an adjective is used before its noun, this is called attributive use. Adjectives in this position are called attributive adjectives; e.g.
a) This book is his.
b) Which pen do you want?
c) This is his book.
NOTE-I: An adjective used attributively is generally placed immediately before a noun, in poetry, however, it is frequently placed after the noun; e.g.
a) Children dear, was it yesterday, we heard the sweet bells over the bay.
b) O man with sisters dear!
NOTE-II: When we attach several adjectives to one noun we sometimes place them after it for emphasis; e.g.
a) The King, fearless and resolute, at once advanced.
b) Franklin had a great genius, original, sagacious and inventive.
c) Once there lived a miller hale and bold.
NOTE-III: When a word or phrase is joined to an Adjective to explain its meaning, the adjective is placed after its noun; e.g.
a) He was a man fertile in resource.
b) A man, taller than any of his friends, came forward.
c) Ritu is a girl dear to all.
d) This is an issue too difficult to be handled.
e) She is a girl worthy of all praise.
NOTE-IV: We use adjectives after the noun when we use them in certain phrases:
|Heir apparent||letters patent||God Almighty||Governor General|
|time immemorial||knights temporal||the sum total||Attorney General|
|lord paramount||notary public||price current||viceroy elect|
|body politic||Secretary General|
NOTE-V: A qualifying title is used after its noun; e.g.
|Alexander the Great||Louis the Pious||Cato the Elder||Richard the Lion-hearted|
|Akbar the Great||Charles the Bold||Yudhisthira the Just|
ii) When an adjective is used after a verb, this is called predicative use. Adjectives in this position are called predicative adjectives; e.g.
a) She became famous soon after the release of her fist movie.
b) Ritu seems very happy.
c) I’m feeling cold today.
d) She grows impatient so soon.
e) He is fat.
NOTE: A few adjectives can’t be used after their nouns, some of them are as follows:
INCORRECT: The district he lives is eastern.
CORRECT: He lives in the eastern district.
INCORRECT: The problem with the new machinery were countless.
CORRECT: There were countless problems with the new machinery.
3. Order of Adjectives
Generally, the adjective order is:
A) Articles: A/an, The
B) Quantity or number: One, Two, Three, etc.
C) General Opinion (Adjectives that can describe any noun): Beautiful, Amazing, good, awful, nice, important, lovely, brilliant, wonderful, strange, nasty, excellent, disgusting, etc.
D) Specific Opinion (Adjectives that can describe only some of the nouns): tasty, delicious, clever; intelligent; friendly, comfortable, etc.
E) Size: Little, big, tall, long, etc.
F). Age: Old, new, young, youthful, etc.
G) Shape: square, round, rectangular, slim, narrow, etc.
H) Color: golden, red, white, tan, black-haired, etc
i) Nationality: Turkish, Indian, French, etc.
j) Material: plastic, leather, metal, wood, bread-like, antique, etc.
k) Purpose: cleaning, hammering, cooking, etc.
a) I love that really big old green antique car that you have.
b) We have a beautiful big white house.
c) My sister has a beautiful big tan white bulldog.
d) I bought a pair of black leather shoes.
e) That table is made of a strange green metallic material.
f) It’s a long narrow plastic brush.
g) This seems to be a round Italian bread-like Christmas cake.
h) She was a beautiful tall thin young black-haired Indian girl.
i) What an amazing little old Chinese cup and saucer!
NOTE-I: When there are two adjectives of the same group, we place AND between them; e.g.
a) The building is green and red.
b) The library has old and new
c) It was a blue and green cotton shirt.
NOTE-II: When there are three or more adjectives of the same group, we place a comma after each and place AND between the last two; e.g.
a) We live in the big green, white and red house at the end of the street.
b) I found a red, black and white watch while going to school.
NOTE-III: Order of Definite Numerical Adjectives
They are used in the following order:
Ordinal, Cardinal, Multiple
INCORRECT: I’ve read the five first chapters of this book.
CORRECT: I’ve read the first five chapters of this book.
4. Using adjectives correctly
Some of the verbs like Be, Appear, Seem, Feel, Get/Grow, Keep, Look (= Appear), Make, Remain, Smell, Sound, Taste, Turn, etc. if required, are followed by adjectives (not adverbs). These verbs are called LINKING VERBS.
Linking Verb are verbs that express a state of being. They are called linking verbs because they link the subject of the sentence to a word or phrase in the predicate that tells us more about the subject’s state of being. Unlike action verbs they connect the subject to the predicate of the sentence/clause without expressing any action.
a) The butter has turned sour.
b) She made me very sad.
c) He grows impatient so soon.
d) Richa became rich just after release of her first novel.
e) These mangoes taste sweet.
f) His ideas sound logical.
g) He seems lucky.
h) She looks beautiful.
NOTE: But if the verbs Look, Taste, Smell, Turn have been used for deliberate actions (not for referring to a quality), we use an adverb with them, not an adjective; e.g.
a) She tasted the milk suspiciously. (not SUSPICIOUS)
b) Ranjan looked angrily at me. (not ANGRY)
c) She turned angrily to the man behind her. (not ANGRY)
5. Too + Positive Degree
After TOO we use positive degree (not comparative or superlative); e.g.
INCORRECT: You are too youngest to understand.
CORRECT: You are too young to understand.
INCORRECT: He is too laziest to do any work.
CORRECT: He is too lazy to do any work in time.
6. Positive Degree + Enough
Before ENOUGH we use positive degree (not comparative or superlative); e.g.
INCORRECT: Is the water hotter enough yet?
CORRECT: Is the water hot enough yet?
INCORRECT: Mohit seems happiest enough working for himself.
CORRECT: Mohit seems happy enough working for himself.
7. The + Adjective
‘The + Adjective (denoting a human quality)’ becomes a plural noun and takes a plural verb; e.g.
a) the deaf (the deaf = deaf people)
b) the disabled (the disabled = disabled people)
c) the healthy (the healthy = healthy people)
d) the living (the living = living people)
e) the poor (the poor = poor people)
f) the sick (the sick = sick people)
g) the unemployed (the unemployed = unemployed people)
i) The rich are not always happy.
ii) The dishonest deserve punishment.
iii) The poor GET poorer; the rich GET richer.
INCORRECT: The rich is not always happy.
CORRECT: The rich are not always happy.
NOTE-I: THE can be used in the same way with national adjectives ending in CH, SH, SE or SS
the Dutch, the Spanish, the Welsh, the Burmese, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Swiss [It is possible for these to have a singular meaning.]
The Spanish are very hard working. (means People of Spain are very hardworking.)
NOTE-II: THE + ADJECTIVE can sometimes have a singular meaning such as, the accused, the unexpected.
THE ACCUSED of the murder has fled.
8. If two or more adjectives require different prepositions, we must mention all those prepositions; e.g.
My teacher is surprised at as well as happy with my work.
INCORRECT: Himanshu is younger and taller than his other brother.
CORRECT: Himanshu is younger to and taller than his other brother.
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