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Adjective Phrases Formation and Function with Examples

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Adjective Phrase Definition

A phrase consists of an adjective and some other words (modifiers) that may come before or after that adjective that describes a noun or pronoun like a single adjective is called an adjective phrase.

An adjective phrase headed by an adjective is called the head of the adjective phrase.

Note that Adjective phrases also exist without an adjective in them. The phrase begins with a preposition, infinitive, or participle that does the work of an adjective is also an adjective phrase.

Difference Between Adjective and Adjective Phrase

The following pair of sentences differentiate adjectives and adjective phrases. The adjective is a single word that modifies a noun or pronoun. In contrast, the adjective phrase consists of two or more words (adjective + modifiers, or modifiers + adjective) following or preceding the head/main adjective, modifying a noun or pronoun.

Adjective Adjective Phrase
He is good at swimming. Those boys are very good at swimming. 
His brother is a talented student. His brother is a student of great talent.
She has worn a woolen sweater. She has worn a sweater made of wool.
A black-hair girl. A girl with black hair.
This truck can carry a heavy load. This truck can carry a load of great weight.
A black man. A man with black skin.
He wants to marry a beautiful girl. He wants to marry a girl with a beautiful face and figure.
There are six teachers in this school. There are six young and talented teachers in this school.

How do we form an Adjective Phrase?

The word most commonly used with an adjective in adjective phrases is adverbs. Besides adverbs, several other modifiers are used in an adjective phrase. Some modifiers which are most commonly used in an adjective phrase are given below.

Determiners (definite and indefinite articles)
Example: The vizier was a tall man.
(The article "a" and the adjective "tall" form an adjective phrase)

Possessive Adjective/Possessive Determiners (my, your, our, etc.)
Examples: I want my black hat back.


Demonstrative Determiners/ Demonstrative Adjectives (this, these, that, those)
Example: That white car belongs to him.
(Here "that" is a demonstrative word and "white" is an adjective)

The modifying word in an adjective phrase can also be a number or quantifier. For example

How many intelligent students are there in this school?
(Here, the word "many" is a quantifier preceded by the adjective "intelligent."

He owns two black dogs.
(Number "two" and adjective "black" combine and form an adjective phrase)

Interrogative and Distributive Determiners
Examples
Whose white car is this?
("whose" is an interrogative determiner combined with an adjective "white")
The meeting is held every second week.
(The word "every" is the distributive determiner)

Infinitives
The infinitives usually act as complements in adjective phrases. For examples
We are very glad to meet him.
("To meet him" act as a complement of the phrase very glad)

The judiciary was very slow to solve the issue.
("To solve the issue" complement the adjective phrase very slow.)

How to Identify an Adjective Phrase in a Sentence?

To know which group of words is an adjective phrase in a sentence, we need to find an adjective in that sentence. Then look for a word or group of words before that adjective; if that word or group of words before or after that adjective modifying that adjective, then the whole group of words including that adjective is an adjective phrase.

The stone was heavy.
(Here, no word modifying the meaning of the adjective "heavy")

He has a very sunny disposition.
(In this sentence, the adjective happy is preceded by two modifiers, the adverb "very" and the article "a"; hence this group of words is a prepositional phrase) 

Where does an Adjective Phrase Stand in a Sentence?


Like a single adjective, an adjective phrase also appears in three positions in a sentence.

1.  Before the noun/pronoun it modifies or the beginning of a sentence.
Example: Our remarkable and talented student got the first position.

2. Adjective phrases may appear after the nouns or pronouns they modify or in the middle position in a sentence
Example: A man quicker than us can reach the station in less than three minutes.

3. Or it may stand at the end position within a sentence
Example: He owns a flat of great width.

Examples of Adjective Phrase

  • The shoes were extremely expensive.
  • The clothes were very costly but really warmer.
  • This winter is extremely colder.
  • The university fee is quite affordable.
  • It was a very horrible accident.
  • His dad is now in good health.
  • The test was really difficult.
  • He is really anxious to see the new show.
  • He is not sure about his father's health.
  • He seems very angry at him.
  • He is a highly competent student.
  • Look, someone in the dark is moving towards us.
  • Buses are very low during these days because everyone is on holiday.

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