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Adjective Definition & Types with Examples

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An adjective is a word that describes a noun or pronoun. Read the following sentences.
  1. She is an honest woman.
  2. They've made a big house in the street. 
  3. I haven't visited that restaurant so far.
  4. Two men are looking for a hotel room.
In the first, the word honest describes what type of woman she is.
In the second sentence, the word big tells us about the size of the house.
The word that in the third sentence point out which restaurant is meant.
In the fourth sentence, the word three tells us the number of men.
All these words tell us something about the noun or pronoun.

How to Define an Adjective

A word used to modify a noun or a pronoun by telling about the kind, number or quantity, quality, or point out the animal, place, or thing is called an adjective. 

The word modify means "to limit"; it makes the thing, person, or place more definite. They usually come before the word (noun or pronoun) they modify; however, they may come after a noun or a pronoun or after a linking verb. Adjectives remain in the same form to agree with the word to which they applied.

Attributive and Predicative Position of Adjectives

There are two main ways to use adjectives. They can be used attributively or predicatively. 

An adjective that stands directly before the word they qualify is known as an attributive adjective. It is the normal position of an adjective; however, it may be directly placed after the noun or pronoun they qualify.

Examples
  • The black cat ran across the road.
  • He is a busy boy.
  • Three men have died in a car accident.
All three adjectives, black, busy, and three, are used attributively in these sentences.
On the other hand, a predicative adjective appears after the noun they modify and separated by a verb.

In the below example sentences, the adjectives are used predictively.
  • My foot felt cold.
  • The boy was beautiful.
  • The weather is getting warmer.

Types of Adjectives with Examples 

Types of Adjectives


Adjectives are classified into two main classes.

1. Descriptive Adjective/Adjective of Quality 

Descriptive adjectives describe the kind or quality of the noun they modify. These adjectives describe the long-lasting or perceived qualities of a noun like a shape, size, or color.

Qualities that tell us about the size
a big house
long trousers
tiny feet
a huge load
a tall man

Adjectives describe the colors of things.
a redshirt
a blue uniform
green peppers

Some qualities tell people or things by describing their quality
a beautiful girl
a rich man
a sunny day
a rough surface
a kind lady

Some qualities describe the materials from which other things are made.
a paper bag
a wooden pot
a glass door
a stone wall

Descriptive adjectives are divided into two classes. Qualifying and classifying are also called gradable and non-gradable adjectives. Qualifying adjectives describe the passing qualities of a noun. These qualities can be graded, i.e. they can be admitted of comparative and superlative degree. For example, we can grade a heavy thing by saying it is heavier than that thing or it is the heaviest of all. We can also use "very" or "more" to grade these adjectives.

Another class of descriptive adjectives is called classifying or non-gradable adjectives. They describe the permanent qualities of a person, place, or thing. These adjectives cannot be graded, i.e. they don't have comparative and superlative forms.

For example, we cannot grade the adjective "married" a person cannot be very or more married.

Many of these adjectives can be used in both forms, gradable or non-gradable depends on the context. Let's take the adjective "old" as an example. 

Examples
  • His house is very old.
  • She is old.
  • The old computer was less expensive than the new model.

In the first two examples, the adjective "old" describes the passing quality, and therefore gradable. The third example shows an absolute value that conveys the meaning of former or previous and is, therefore, cannot be graded.

2. Determiner Adjectives 

These adjectives are generally classified into the group of determiners. Determiners adjectives are classified into the following classes.

Adjective of Quantity

The adjective quantity expresses how much quantity of a thing is meant. Some, little, much, and no are an example of the adjective of quantity.

Examples
  • He needs some food.
  • He has no sense.
  • The whole class was absent.
  • You have lost all your money.

Numerical Adjective

It shows the number of persons or things or shows the order of persons or things.
Many, no, one, several, first and last, etc., are numerical adjectives.

Examples
  • I have no friends.
  • There are six books on the table.
  • He has learned many things from me.
  • He made several mistakes with his essay.
An adjective that shows amounts one, two, three, etc., is called cardinal
A number that shows the position of something (1st,2nd, or 3rd, etc.) in a list of things is called Ordinal.

Demonstrative Adjectives


Words such as 'this', 'that', 'these', and 'those' specify which person or thing is referred to. They are sometimes known as demonstrative determiners. They are always followed by a noun; otherwise, they become demonstrative pronouns.

Examples
  • This boy is intelligent.
  • Would you mind giving me that stick? 
  • I need these shoes as well.
"This" is used to point out the thing that is nearby and singular. "That" is used to signalize singular things.

"These" and "those" are used with singular and plural nouns, respectively. 

Interrogative Adjectives


The question words what, which, when, and whose when used with a noun to make questions are called interrogative adjectives.

Examples
  • Which movie are you watching now?
  • Whose car is this?
  • What shirt do you want to buy?
It will notice that "what" is used generally, i.e. the number of answers to these questions is unknown.

"Which" is used in a selective sense, i.e. we either know how many choices there are.

In typical direct questions, the interrogative adjectives are placed at the start of the sentence followed by the noun, which they modify. In direct question sentences, they usually follow the noun they modify in the middle of the sentence.

Distributive Adjectives

Adjectives refer to each one of a person, or things is called distributive adjectives.
Each, every, either, neither, etc., are distributive adjectives.

Examples
  • Each student should present his proposal.
  • The store is open every day except Friday.
  • Neither computer works properly.

Possessive Adjectives

Adjectives that show possession or ownership are called possessive adjectives.
Possessive adjectives are my, your, our, his, her, its, their. These adjectives are sometimes followed by "own."
As my own house. Our own party. Etc.

Examples
  • My father may ask about the paper.
  • His brother was injured in a car accident.
  • Your car is costly.

Their roommate invited them to his birthday party.

Proper Adjectives

When a proper noun is used to form an adjective such are known as proper adjectives.

Proper adjectives are always written in capital.

Proper Noun Adjective
America American
China Chinese
Mexico Mexican
Norway Norwegian
Italy Italian
Sweden Swadesh
Asia Asian

Emphatic Adjectives

The words Own, such, same, very. Are emphatic or emphasizing adjectives.

Examples
  • He makes all his own clothes.
  • I enjoy the game very much.

The Order of Adjectives


If many adjectives come before a noun in a sentence, we must put them in a particular order. There are some rules of adjective order, but first, we discuss the fact and opinion adjectives.

Fact Adjectives: Adjectives that tell a fact about a noun they are describing are called fact adjectives.

There are several categories of fact adjectives. For example, adjectives describing size, shape, age, color, nationality, and material of which things are made are fall in the class of fact adjectives.

Opinion Adjectives: These adjectives describe the thought or belief of someone about something.

The opinion adjectives may be general or specific. The general opinion describes lots of different things, while a particular opinion describes a particular type of thing.

To order several adjectives that come before a noun, we put

1. General opinion adjectives before specific opinion adjectives.
2. The order of fact adjectives depends on the fact they describe.

Examples
  • That is a lovely little puppy.
  • She is a nice, intelligent, tall girl.

In sentence 1, lovely is an opinion adjective that comes before the fact adjective little.

In sentence 2, the general opinion adjective nice comes before the specific opinion adjective intelligent followed by fact adjective tall at very last position.

Fact adjectives go in this order size, quality, color, origin, material.

Examples
  • I need a small white leather bag.
  • I love listening to old Indian songs.
  • She is ironing her clothes on a large wooden table.
Adjectives that describe size and length usually come before that describe shape and width
A small wide table
A large round wood
A short narrow street
A tall fat woman

When two color adjectives come before a noun, use and between them.

Examples
  • She wore a black and white clothes. (not "a black and a white")
  • A black, white and redshirt.


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