Using adjectives in English
- When we use more than one adjective in front of a noun, there is a specific order in which they must appear. In a sentence, the adjectives usually appear after the determiner, and before the noun they modify. The breakdown of the nine categories is found in the chart below.
- Most nouns do not have more than three adjectives in front of them.
|Her ugly old cat
|The blue shopping bag
|A few new French wines.
|One, three, a few, several
|Silly, charming, comfortable
|Large, small, tiny
|Old, young, new, 12-year-old
|Red, blue, green
|American, French, Ghanaian
|Wood, iron, ceramic
|Running (where the purpose of the noun is to run e.g. running shoes), cooking, school (as in "school supplies")
Adjectives modify nouns, giving them descriptions about size, color, shape, origin, etc. Superlative adjectives are used to describe the noun to the upper and lower limits of a quality. There are some basic rules on how to convert an adjective into a superlative adjective.
Add “-est” onto a one-syllable word to make the superlative form. If this word ends with an “–e”, just at the –“st”.
|Fine à finest
|Large à largest
Two-syllable adjectives that end in “-y” require you to change that letter to an “-i” and then add on the ‘-est”.
|Funny à Funniest
|Groovy à grooviest
For all adjectives that are two or more syllables, use the words most or least to indicate either the upper, or the lower limit of the adjective.
|Comfortable à most comfortable / least comfortable
|Rectangular à most rectangular / least rectangular
Adjectives modify nouns, adding descriptions about size, color, shape, origin, etc. Comparative adjectives are used to compare two nouns. For example: “This table is larger than that one”.
Add “-er” onto a one-syllable word to make the comparative form. In some cases an adjective ending in a consonant requires us to double that consonant before adding the “-er”. When it already ends with an “-e”, just add on the “-r”.
|Large à larger
|Fat à fatter
When a two-syllable adjective ends in a “-y”, we must change it to and “-i” before adding the “-er”.
|Crazy à crazier
|Happy à happier
Three-syllable adjectives require adding “more” or “less.”
|Comfortable à more comfortable / less comfortable
|American à more American / less American
- Uncomparable adjectives describe absolute conditions. You cannot use modifiers like “more” or “less” with them. They cannot be used in the comparative form either.
Comparative adjectives are used to compare two nouns. For example: “This dog is faster than that one.” It is used with the word than, which compares the two items. Below you can see the two sentence structures possible.
|+ To be
|The dresser is bigger than the chair.
|The soup is spicier than the lasagna.
|+ To be
|Lisa is more comfortable than I am.
|Bruno is more studious than Casey.
The superlative adjective is used to distinguish one item from all the other items in a group by using “-est” or the most / least. Below are the two sentence structures possible with superlative adjectives.
|+ To be
|She is the youngest child.
|New York City is the coolest city in the world.
|+ To be
|Lisa is the most organized person ever.
|This exam is the most important part of our grade.
- A linking verb is used to express further information about the subject, instead of an action. While to be, to become, and to seem are always linking verbs, others are only sometimes used as linking verbs. Here are some of the most common linking verbs in English:
- To distinguish these verbs' action form from their linking form, try replacing the verb in question with is in the form of a question. If the question makes sense, it’s in the linking verb form.
|Kerry grew tired after dinner. à Was Kerry tired after dinner? *The question makes sense with this sentence; therefore, to grow is being used in the linking verb form.
|Chris grew roses in his garden. à Was Chris roses in his garden? * This question doesn’t make sense. This means the verb to grow is being used in the action verb form.
- Usually, only adverbs come directly after a verb in a sentence, modifying it. However, if it’s a linking verb, it will be followed by an adjective.
|+ Linking Verb
- This can be a complicated grammar rule to understand. While the adjective appears after the linking verb, it doesn’t necessarily come directly after it. If the adverb describes the adjective, the adverb will come after the verb and before the adjective.
|+ Linking Verb
- Compound adjectives are a combination of two or more adjectives that modify the same noun. They require a hyphen to avoid confusion. Examples include:
|Erin received high marks on her well-written essay.
|Luna installed a state-of-the-art technology in her office.
|Stephanie was broken-hearted after her soccer team lost.
There are several other formulas that can be used to make compound adjectives. For example:
Noun + present participle or present participle or adjective
Adjective + present participle or present participle or noun
- A compound adjective, composed of a number followed by a time period, requires a hyphen and the singular form of the time period.
|A three-week vacation, not three-weeks vacation
|A two-year contract, not two-years contract
To show an equality between two items in a comparative phrase we can use one of four sentence structures: "as," "nearly," "quite as," and "just as." These create a positive sentence structure; however, each one means something slightly different.
|Jonathan is as funny as Tom
This sentence plainly states that Tom and Jonathan are both equally funny.
|Jonathan is nearly as funny as Tom
In this phrase, Jonathan is almost as funny as Tom. This indicates a slight difference betweenthe two.
|Jonathan is just as funny as Tom
|Jonathan is quite as funny as Tom
Here, the "just" and "quite" emphasize that the two items are the same. For example, this would be used if the interlocutor doesn’t believe that two are equal.