ADJECTIVE

Definition: An adjective modifies a noun. It describes the quality, state or action that a noun refers to.

ADJECTIVE RULES:
  1. Adjectives can come before nouns: a new house
  2. Adjectives can come after verbs such as be, become, seem, look, etc.: that house looks new
  3. They can be modified by adverbs: a very expensive house
  4. They can be used as complements to a noun: the extras make the house expensive
EXAMPLES:
  • an ugly monkey
  • a beautiful cloud
  • the handsome boy
  • the honest girls
Adjectives
 
We use adjectives to describe nouns.
Most adjectives can be used in front of a noun…:
They have a beautiful house.
We saw a very exciting film last night.
or after a link verb like be, look or feel:
Their house is beautiful.
That film looks interesting.

adjectives: -ed and -ing

A lot of adjectives are made from verbs by adding -ing or -ed:

-ing adjectives:

The commonest -ing adjectives are:
amusing
shocking
surprising
frightening
interesting
disappointing
exciting
tiring
worrying
boring
terrifying
annoying

If you call something interesting you mean it interests you.
If you call something frightening you mean it frightens you.
I read a very interesting article in the newspaper today.
That Dracula film was absolutely terrifying.

-ed adjectives:

The commonest –ed adjectives are:
annoyed
bored
frightened
worried
tired
closed       
excited
delighted
disappointed

If something annoys you, you can say you feel annoyed. If something interests you, you can say you are interested.
The children had nothing to do. They were bored.

order of adjectives

Sometimes we use more than one adjective in front of a noun:
He was a nice intelligent young man.
She had a small round black wooden box.

Opinion adjectives:

Some adjectives give a general opinion. We can use these adjectives to describe almost any noun:
good
bad
lovely
 strange
beautiful
nice
brilliant
excellent
awful
important
wonderful
nasty
Some adjectives give a specific opinion. We only use these adjectives to describe particular kinds of noun:
Food: tasty; delicious
Furniture, buildings: comfortable; uncomfortable
People, animals: clever; intelligent; friendly
We usually put a general opinion in front of a specific opinion:
Nice tasty soup.
A nasty uncomfortable armchair
A lovely intelligent animal
Usually we put an adjective that gives an opinion in front of an adjective that is descriptive:
a nice red dress; a silly old man; those horrible yellow curtains
We often have two adjectives in front of a noun:
a handsome young man; a big black car; that horrible big dog
Sometimes we have three adjectives, but this is unusual:
a nice handsome young man;
a big black American car;
that horrible big fierce dog
It is very unusual to have more than three adjectives.
Adjectives usually come in this order:
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
General
opinion
Specific
opinion
Size
 Shape
Age
 Colour
Nationality
Material
We use some adjectives only after a link verb:
afraid
alive
alone
asleep
content
glad
 ill
ready
sorry
sure
unable
well
Some of the commonest -ed adjectives are normally used only after a link verb:
annoyed;  finished;  bored; pleased; thrilled
We say:
Our teacher was ill.
My uncle was very glad when he heard the news.
The policeman seemed to be very annoyed
but we do not say:
We had an ill teacher.
When he heard the news he was a very glad uncle
He seemed to be a very annoyed policeman
A few adjectives are used only in front of a noun:
north
south
east
west
northern
southern
eastern
western
countless
occasional
lone
eventful
indoor
outdoor
We say:
He lives in the eastern district.
There were countless problems with the new machinery.
but we do not say:
The district he lives in is eastern
The problems with the new machinery were countless.

comparative and superlative adjectives

We use comparative adjectives to describe people and things:
This car is certainly better but it’s much more expensive.
I’m feeling happier now.
We need a bigger garden
We use than when we want to compare one thing with another:
She is two years older than me.
New York is much bigger than Boston.
He is a better player than Ronaldo.
France is a bigger country than Britain.
When we want to describe how something or someone changes we can use two comparatives with and:
The balloon got bigger and bigger.
Everything is getting more and more expensive.
Grandfather is looking older and older
We often use the with comparative adjectives to show that one thing depends on another:
When you drive faster it is more dangerous
> The faster you drive, the more dangerous it is.
When they climbed higher it got colder
> The higher they climbed, the colder it got.

Superlative adjectives:

We use the with a superlative:
It was the happiest day of my life.
Everest is the highest mountain in the world.
That’s the best film I have seen this year.
I have three sisters, Jan is the oldest and Angela is the youngest .

intensifiers

We use words like very; really and extremely to make adjectives stronger:
It’s a very interesting story
Everyone was very excited.
It’s a really interesting story.
Everyone was extremely excited
We call these words intensifiers. Other intensifiers are:
amazingly - exceptionally - incredibly - remarkably - particularly
We also use enough as an intensifier, but enough comes after its adjective:
If you are seventeen you are old enough to drive a car.
I can’t wear those shoes. They’re not big enough.

Intensifiers with strong adjectives:

When we want to describe something or someone as exceptional you can use a strong adjective. Strong adjectives are words like:
Enormous; huge = very big
Tiny = very small
Brilliant = very clever
Awful; terrible; disgusting; dreadful = very bad
Certain = very sure
Excellent; perfect; ideal; wonderful; splendid = very good
Delicious = very tasty
We do not use very with these adjectives. We do not say something is "very enormous" or someone is "very brilliant".

With strong adjectives, for intensifiers we normally use:
 absolutely - exceptionally - particularly - really - quite
The film was absolutely awful.
He was an exceptionally brilliant child.
The food smelled really disgusting.
Warning!

Intensifiers with particular adjectives

Some intensifiers go with particular adjectives depending on their meaning:
I’m afraid your wife is dangerously ill.
He was driving dangerously fast.
The car was seriously damaged.
Fortunately none of the passengers was seriously hurt
Some intensifiers go with particular adjectives. For example we use the intensifier highly with the adjectives successful, intelligent, likely and unlikely:
He was highly intelligent.
She’s a highly successful businesswoman
… but we do not say:
We had a highly tasty meal.
That is a highly good idea.
We use the intensifier bitterly with the adjectives disappointed, unhappy and cold:
I was bitterly unhappy at school.
We were bitterly disappointed to lose the match.
It can get bitterly cold in winter.
You need to use your dictionary to find what sort of nouns these intensifiers go with.

 Intensifiers with comparatives and superlatives:

We use these words and phrases as intensifiers with comparative adjectives:
much - far -  a lot - quite a lot - a great deal - a good deal - a good bit - a fair bit
He is much older than me.
New York is a lot bigger than Boston.
We use much and far as intensifiers with comparative adjectives in front of a noun:
France is a much bigger country than Britain.
He is a far better player than Ronaldo.
We use these words as intensifiers with superlatives:
easily - by far - far
The blue whale is easily the biggest animal in the world.
This car was by far the most expensive.

mitigators

Mitigators are the opposite of intensifiers. When we want to make an adjective less strong we use these words:
fairly - rather - quite
By the end of the day we were rather tired.
The film wasn’t great but it was quite exciting.
and in informal English: pretty
We had a pretty good time at the party.
We call these words mitigators.
Warning
quite
When we use quite with a strong adjective it means the same as absolutely:
The food was quite awful. = The food was absolutely awful.
As a child he was quite brilliant. = As a child he was absolutely brilliant.

Mitigators with comparatives:

We use these words and phrases as mitigators:
a bit - just a bit - a little - a little bit - just a little bit - rather - slightly

She’s a bit younger than I am.
It takes two hours on the train but it is a little bit longer by road
This one is rather bigger.
We use slightly and rather as mitigators with comparative adjectives in front of a noun:
This is a slightly more expensive model than that.
This is rather bigger one than that.

Adjectives as intensifiers:

We use some adjectives as intensifiers:
absolute
total  - complete
utter  - perfect
real
We say:
He’s a complete idiot.
They were talking utter nonsense.
… but we do not say:
The idiot was complete.
The nonsense they were talking was utter.

noun modifiers

We often use two nouns together to show that one thing is a part of something else:
the village church; the car door; the kitchen window; the chair leg;
my coat pocket; London residents
Warning
We do not use a possessive form for these things. We do not talk about:
The car’s door; the kitchen’s window; the chair’s leg
We can use noun modifiers to show what something is made of:
a gold watch; a leather purse; a metal box
We often use noun modifiers with nouns ending in -er and -ing:
an office worker; a jewellery maker; a potato peeler; a shopping list; a swimming lesson; a walking holiday.
We use measurements, age or value as noun modifiers:
a thirty kilogram suitcase; a two minute rest; a five thousand euro platinum watch; a fifty kilometre journey;
We often put two nouns together and readers/listeners have work out what they mean. So:
  • an ice bucket = a bucket to keep ice in
  • an ice cube = a cube made of ice
  • an ice breaker = a ship which breaks ice
  • the ice age = the time when much of the Earth was covered in ice.
Sometimes we find more than two nouns together:
London office workers; grammar practice exercises

Position of noun modifiers

Noun modifiers come after adjectives:
The old newspaper seller
A tiring fifty kilometre journey


possessives: adjectives

Can you match these possessive adjectives to the right personal pronouns?

its, your, my, their, our, her, his

Subject Object Possessive
I me  
You you  
He him  
She her  
It it  
We us  
They them  

We use possessive adjectives:
• to show something belongs to somebody:
That’s our house.
My car is very old.
• for relations and friends:
My mother is a doctor.
How old is your sister?
• for parts of the body:
He’s broken his arm.
She’s washing her hair.
I need to clean my teeth.

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