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What is an Adjective?

20th August 2020 CHALLA Comments Off

 What is an Adjective?


ADJECTIVE – adds something to the meaning of a noun.

What is an Adjective? An adjective is a word or group of words used to describe or modify a noun or pronoun. It usually adds something to their meaning.

The adjectives are usually used before a noun or a pronoun attributively, but sometimes they may be used after the verb as predicatively.



  • He is a brave boy.
  • My friend is very happy now.
  • There are twenty boys in this class.
  • She always likes that red car.
  • Ganesh is earning more money than his friend does.
  • He looks quite young.
  • Our school campus is very big.

The position of Adjectives:


1.Attributive Adjectives:

When an Adjective is used before the noun, it is called an Attributive Adjective.



  • I saw a black cat.
  • It was a slow journey.
  • The rose is a beautiful flower.
  • She is carrying a large suitcase.
  • I always rely on first-hand information


2. Predicative Adjectives:

When an Adjective is used after the linking verbs like be, become, grow, look, or seem, it is called a Predicative Adjective


  • The dog is black.
  • The rose is beautiful.
  • After a long journey, they look tired.
  • By virtue of hard work, they grew rich.


How to identify the Predicative Adjectives:

The easy thing is to find out the linking verbs.  Then understand that the adjective that comes after this linking verb is a Predicative Adjective.

 The linking verbs include the following:


  • The be form when used as the main verb ( ex., am, are, is, was, were, will be, has been, have been).
  • The sense verbs (ex., to feel, to look, to smell, to taste, to sound).
  • The status verbs (ex., to appear, to become, to continue, to grow, to seem, to turn).


A linking verb will always be completed by either a predicative adjective or a noun (a predicate nominative).


3. Postpositive adjectives:

Adjectives used immediately after the noun or the pronoun.



After nouns:

  • These are the students interested in online coaching
  • Can please keep the door open?
  • We convinced all the teachers present to attend the classes.
  • They tried to meet the Secretary General.
  • Alexander the Great, is called the world conqueror.
  • This is the shortest route possible.
  • This is the best hotel available in the city


After pronouns: 

  • Who is the one responsible for this mistake.
  • Only those absent are going to be punished.


After indefinite pronouns: 

Adjectives always go after (not before) these words:

(anything, everything, nothing, something, anywhere, everywhere, nowhere, somewhere, anybody, everybody, nobody, somebody)


  • I have found something useful for you.
  • Everything valuable was offered to you.
  • Can you tell me something important?
  • She doesn’t find anybody interested in the programme.
  • She would like to go somewhere quiet.


4. Adjectives that can be used only as Attributive Adjectives:

These adjectives can be used immediately before a noun.

(They are: chief, elder, live, former, indoor, inner, main, mere, only, outdoor, outer, particular,  principal, sole and upper.)



  • My elder brother will come here tomorrow. 
  • They met the former Prime Minister.
  • I saw him on the main road.
  • I proposed outdoor games.
  • We received the principal amount without interest.


These Adjectives should not be used as Predicative adjectives after linking verbs. 


  • My brother is an elder.  (wrong)
  • They met the Prime Minister who was  former (wrong)
  • The road was main. (wrong)
  • The games were outdoor. (wrong)
  • The amount they received was  principal.  (wrong)


5. Coordinate Adjectives:

Coordinate adjectives are two or more direct adjectives that modify a noun with equal value. They are often called equal adjectives. The adjectives used here are usually synonyms or are very close in meaning.


Here, the adjectives need not follow a specific order.

We use two or more similar types of adjectives to describe one noun.

Either ‘comma’ or ‘and’ can be used to separate these adjectives.


Comma to separate these adjectives.



  • She is a short, clever girl.
  • Snehith is a dynamic, enthusiastic principal.
  • I met a handsome, powerful man.


And to separate these adjectives



  • He is a genuine and committed man 
  • She is a highly qualified and dedicated teacher.


And between the last two words when two or more adjectives come in the predicative position.



  • This girl is smart, clever and obedient.
  • This teacher is qualified, dedicated and punctual.


The order of adjectives may be changed.  Still makes a sensible meaning.



  •  It is a considerable, useful plan.
  •  It is a considerable and useful plan.
  •  It is a useful and considerable plan. 

In the above sentences, both the adjectives describe the noun ‘plan’.


6. Cumulative Adjectives:

Cumulative adjectives describe the noun as well as the combination of the next adjective and the noun.  

These adjectives need to follow a specific order. 

Neither comma nor and can be used to separate these adjectives.



  • Ricky has many mischievous friends.
  • They opposed traditional religious affiliations.
  • She wants to eat delicious Indian food.

In the above sentences, the adjectives many, traditional and delicious are describing the combined phrases of nouns and adjectives.

In coordinate adjectives, there are two or more independent adjectives describing the same noun whereas in cumulative adjectives there is only one adjective describing the adjective and noun combination.


Coordinate Adjectives

Cumulative Adjectives
We use two or more similar types of adjectives to describe one noun. One adjective describing the adjective and noun combination.
Here, the adjectives need not follow a specific order. These adjectives need to follow a specific order. 
Either ‘comma’ or ‘and’ can be used to separate these adjectives. Neither comma nor and can be used to separate these adjectives.

The Order of Cumulative Adjectives in English

Placement Type of Adjective Examples
1 Determiners


this, that, these, those, my, mine, your, yours, him, his, hers they, their, some, our, several

 a, an, the

2 Quantity five, two, twenty-five
3 Opinion, Quality or Observation beautiful, clever, witty, well-mannered, lovely, useful, comfortable
4 Size big, medium-sized, small
5 Shape square, triangular, long, circular
6 Age young, middle-aged, old, new, adolescent
7 Colour red, blue, purple, yellow, green
8 Origin French, Buddhist, English, Indian
9 Material metal, leather, cotton, plastic
10 Purpose mixing, drinking, cooking

sleeping, roasting 


Observe the following order:


✓ Correct:

  • There you find a beautiful young Indian lady.
  • Here is a latest Indian electric car

✘ Incorrect:

  • There you find a beautiful Indian young lady.
  • Here is an Indian latest electric car


7. The adjectives as an Object Complement:

Here, the adjectives give us more information about the object of the sentence. (After “find” / “make” / “keep” + object)



    • She found her gold missing.
    • The doctor kept me waiting.
    • This news made me happy.


8. Adjectives used as Nouns (the + adjective):

(The expression is always plural in meaning. It refers  to all members of the group)


  • The rich should not neglect the poor.
  • The unemployed are a burden to the country.


(Here the rich means rich people and the poor means poor people)

( Here the unemployed means all unemployees in the country)

More examples:

  • the blind (means all blind people)
  • the deaf (means all deaf people)
  • the old (means all old people)
  • the poor (means all poor people)
  • the rich (means all rich people)


9. Adjectives used attributively and predicatively in the same sentence:  


Sometimes, more than one adjective can appear in a sentence, describing the same noun. 


  • This clever student is too arrogant to deal with the issue.
  • His new car is expensive to maintain


10. Numerical Adjectives before a Noun:

(When we use two of the Numeral Adjectives before a Noun, we use ordinals(first, second…..,) first and then cardinals (one, two ….,).



    • The students have reached their first two targets.
    • You need to concentrate on the last three chapters.


11. The Adjectives used before and after nouns:

Some adjectives can be used both before and after nouns

– without a change of meaning: 

(affected, available, imaginable, obtained, possible, required, suitable)


Let me tell you this is the only possible solution.


Let me tell you this is the only solution possible.


– with a change of meaning: 

(concerned, involved, present)


  • Let me speak to all the people present. (who are there)
  • I don’t want to reveal my present address. (the address I have now)
  • I appreciate all the students involved in this session (who took part in that session)
  • This lesson certainly requires an involved explanation (complicated)


Also note the difference between:


  •  The teacher’s main contribution to this school. (the main contribution of the teacher)
  •  The main teacher’s contribution to this school. (the contribution of the main teacher) 

Types of Adjectives


There are 12 types of adjectives according to their uses.



The table given below shows 12 types of Adjectives along with a brief explanation of how they modify the nouns or pronouns. Suitable examples also have been provided for your easy understanding.  Let us see them in the following table.

Type of the Adjective Explanation Examples
Proper Adjectives derived from Proper Nouns India – Indian culture,

Turkey –Turkish tobacco,

Japan –Japanese cars,

Africa –African people

Qualitative Adjectives/Adjectives of Quality/Descriptive Adjectives Answer the question (of what the kind or quality of a person or thing?) Large city, honest man, good boy, bad character, ugly thing, beautiful flower
Quantitative Adjectives/Adjectives of Quantity Answer the question (How much?) Some money, no milk, any questions, all answers, little water,  whole task,  sufficient money, a few people etc.,
Numeral Adjectives/Adjectives of Number Answer the question (How many?) one ticket,  two ways, 

five films,  first person,            double page

Demonstrative Adjectives Answer the question (Which one?) this room, these lessons,        that problem, those days,      any student, other girls
Interrogative Adjectives the words modify a noun and ask a question whose car, what book, which school
Distributive Adjectives point out the persons or things named individually or collectively. each player, every Monday, either book, neither neighbour
Possessive Adjectives/Pronominal show that someone owns something. my friend, our meeting,        your name, her friends
Emphasizing Adjectives used to lay stress on the proceeding noun own business, own eyes,        very toy, very book
Exclamatory Adjectives used with nouns and indicate strong emotion what nonsense! what a genius!  what terrible!
Participle Adjectives the verbs end in ….ED or..ING. inspiring story, relaxed mood
Relative Adjectives modify nouns and introduce relative clauses what languages he speaks…,

which train to take….,


Points to Focus: 1

The Adjective VS. Adverb. 

The adjectives are used

  1. Before the word (Noun or Pronoun) they modify as


  • She is a clever girl.
  • It is a useful mobile.
  • My friend has an excellent building in the city.


            2. After the linking verbs like be, become, grow, look, sound or seem  etc.,


  • This girl seems clever.
  • The mobile becomes useful. 
  • My friend’s building in the city looks excellent.
  • This air smells fresh.


The adverbs are used

  1. To modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs.


  • She sang sweetly. (modifies the verb)
  • She sang a very sweet song. (modifies the adjective)
  • She sang very sweetly. (modifies the adverb)


2. Adverbs generally answer the questions: how, when, where, why, or to what extent, how often, or how much.


  • Cherry walks slowly. (answers how)
  • He purchased the car recently. (tells when)
  • Let’s all gather here. (tells where)
  • He rarely goes to the gym. (answers how often)


Points to Focus: 2


It is commonly thought that the words ending in -ly are adverbs.  But not all. Some adjectives such as brotherly, lonely, friendly, likely, costly, lovely, holy etc., end in -ly. 


How to identify the adjectives and adverbs with these -ly words.


-ly as an Adjective:

  1. He is a friendly man.  
  2. He is not single.  But he feels lonely.
  3. This is an ugly painting my brother has ever painted.
  4. The festivals are holy days for all religious people.


-ly as an Adverb:


  1. They have really enjoyed the movie.
  2. They rarely go to the market due to Corona.
  3. They painted all these pictures beautifully.
  4. She is driving the car slowly.


Here is a list of adjectives ending in -ly



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