What is an adjective?
Adjectives are words that describe the qualities or states of being of nouns:
enormous, doglike, silly, yellow, fun, fast. They can also describe the quantity of nouns: many, few, millions, eleven.
Adjectives modify nouns
Most students learn that adjectives are words that modify (describe) nouns. Adjectives do not modify verbs or adverbs or other adjectives.
- Margot wore a beautiful hat to the pie-eating contest.
- Furry dogs may overheat in the summertime.
- My cake should have sixteen candles.
- The scariest villain of all time is Darth Vader.
Adjectives express an attribute of a place, thing, event or person.
- Follow the yellow cab.
- George is an adorable kid.
The adjective forms are positive, comparative, and superlative.
- This tree is tall. (positive)
- That tree is taller. (comparative)
- The second last tree in the row is the tallest. (superlative)
Based on the type of attribute they describe, adjectives are of many types:
- Appearance Adjectives – adorable, beautiful, clean, drab
- Color Adjectives – purple, green, black, white
- Condition Adjectives – better, famous, tender, helpful
- Feelings (Bad) Adjectives – angry, jealous, worried, lazy
- Feelings (Good) Adjectives – happy, jolly, nice, victorious
- Shape Adjectives – high, round, skinny, square
- Size Adjectives – massive, short, tall, huge
- Sound Adjectives – quiet, loud, deafening, thundering
- Time Adjectives – ancient, late, short, young
- Taste/Touch Adjectives – bitter, rotten, strong, sweet
- Touch Adjectives – crooked, flaky, freezing, warm
- Quantity Adjectives – abundant, heavy, substantial, light
Types of adjectives
There are five kinds of adjectives as follow.
- Possessive Adjective
- Descriptive Adjective
- Numeral Adjective
- Demonstrative Adjective
- Interrogative Adjective
1) Possessive Adjective
Possessive Adjective – It is used to point out the noun that belongs to someone.
The Possessive Adjectives are My, Your, Our, Their, His, Her and Its.
- This is my book.
- That is your car.
- Our car is new.
It is also called possessive pronouns, since it replaces nouns sometimes.
- This is Kim and this is his hat. (‘His’ replaces ‘Kim’).
2) Descriptive Adjective
Descriptive Adjective – It is used to is used to tell the sorts of noun or quality. It describes the noun in detail by assigning an attribute to that noun.
- He is a tall man.
- She is a beautiful girl.
3) Numeral Adjective
Numeral Adjective – It is used to show the number of noun. There are three types of Numeral Adjective as follow.
1) Definite Numeral Adjective – It is the adjective that is used to denote an exact number of noun as first, second, third or one, two, three….
Example: Sunday is the first day of the week.
2) Indefinite Numeral Adjective – It is used to denote an inexact number of nouns as some, any, much, many, little, a few….
Example: I have some friends here.
3) Distributive Numeral Adjective – It is used to cache one noun. They are every, each, another, other…
Example: Each student is very friendly.
4) Demonstrative Adjective
Demonstrative Adjective – It is used to point out the noun. They are this, these, that, and those.
- The book I’m holding is very old.
- Those taxi drivers we had on holiday were dangerous drivers.
- That man is very handsome.
- These girls are good-looking.
5) Interrogative Adjectives
Interrogative Adjective – It is used with nouns to ask questions. They are where, what, which….
- What program are you watching?
- Which vitamins should be taken every day?
- What is your plan?
- What type of gun is it?
- Whose car is this?
Adjective + ly = Adverb
- Loving + ly = Lovingly
- Slow + ly = Slowly
- Loud + ly = Loudly
- Faithful + ly = Faithfully
- Fortunate = ly = Fortunately
Much and Many
Many: Means a lot of, it is used with countable nouns (people/women/meetings/books), positive sentences, negative sentences and questions.
- I have to attend many meetings this week.
- There are many free books on eBay.
- How many times have you seen that movie?
- Do you have many friends in Paris?
- I don’t have many meetings today.
Much: Means a lot of, it is used with collective nouns (army, group, team, class, company) and singular uncountable nouns (money/coffee), in negative sentences and questions.
- How much does that cost?
- He doesn’t have much luck in life.
- He doesn’t have much money?
- He has too much money.
- She talks so much.
- I love you very much.
- They are in so much trouble.
Last and Latest
Last: Is the opposite of first. It is the last in a list/sequence/line/group.
- The last king of England was George VI (6th).
- I am the last in the line at the check out.
- I didn’t enjoy the last Harry Potter book.
- Did you complete the last two questions in the exam?
Latest: Means the most recent.
- Did you read my latest report?
- She always wears the latest fashion.
- Is that the latest I phone?
- The latest edition of Vogue is out on Monday.
- I don’t like the latest version of Microsoft office, I preferred the old one.
Late and Lately
Late: Means to arrive after the time you were supposed to arrive.
- I am often late.
- I woke up late this morning and missed the train.
- Sorry I’m late.
- Don’t be late.
- I hate being late.
Lately (adverb): Means recently, in the last few days/weeks/months.
- Lately I haven’t been sleeping well.
- I haven’t seen her lately.
- I haven’t read any good books lately.
- I have been very busy lately.
Fun and Funny
Fun: When you enjoy yourself, or have a good time.
- The party last night was fun.
- My trip to Euro-Disney will be fun.
- Mike is a fun guy.
- Going to the dentist is not fun.
- I had lots of fun last night (noun).
Funny: When something/someone makes you laugh.
- The stand-up comedian was funny, he made me laugh so much.
- The movie was very funny.
- Your joke wasn’t funny, it didn’t make me laugh.
- Jim is a really funny guy, he makes everyone in the office laugh.
Boring and Bored
Boring: Describes someone or something that is not interesting.
- The film was boring.
- The lesson was boring.
- I don’t like having boring conversations.
- The TV show wasn’t boring.
Bored: Describes how you feel when something is not interesting or you have nothing to do.
- I am bored.
- He was so bored, that he fell asleep.
- Remember: Only boring people get bored.
Tiring and Tired
Tiring: Describes the thing that is making you feel that you have no energy or patience.
- My new job is very tiring.
- A leopard is fast and can run long distances without tiring.
- Waiting in a long queue at the supermarket is tiring.
Tired: Describes how you feel when something causes you to have no energy or want to sleep or you have no more patience for it.
- I didn’t sleep well last night, I am so tired.
- He was very tired after playing football.
- I am tired of watching TV every night, let’s do something different.
Note: There are many adjectives in English that end in -ING or -ED.
An adjective that ends in -ING is used to describe the characteristic of a person or a thing. An adjective that ends in -ED is used to describe a feeling.
High and Tall
High: Something of great elevation, extending upwards from the ground, above the ground or from top to bottom. Not used to describe people or animals. High is the opposite of low.
- The building is high.
- The mountain is high.
- The plane is high in the sky.
- The sun is high in the sky.
- He has a high temperature (fever).
- How high is the house? It is three stories high.
- She climbed over the high wall.
- The room had a very high ceiling.
- The prison is surrounded by high fences.
- Oak trees grow to more than 30 meters high.
Tall: Greater than ordinary height. It is used to describe the height of someone or something. Tall is the opposite of short.
- The man was very tall.
- There are many tall trees in the forest.
- The Eiffel Tower is the tallest building in Paris.
- How tall is your son? He is nearly 2 meters tall.
- Giraffes are the world’s tallest animal.
Sick and Ill
Sick: Is less formal, it describes short term diseases and often used to describe nausea. It can describe a physical condition affecting an individual or group.
- She’s pregnant and feels sick every morning.
- John will not be coming to work today, he’s sick.
- 20 % of the staff are off sick with the flu, at the moment.
Ill: Is more formal, used to describe long and short term diseases. It can also be used to describe nausea. It can mean bad, poor, unwell or sick.
- She is very ill and won’t be returning to work.
- The roller coaster made her feel ill.
- Ill health can be the cause of too much stress.
- The traveller said that they had been ill advised (given incorrect information).
Few and A few
Few: Describes a negative quantity or shortage. It means hardly any or almost none.
- Unfortunately Simon has few friends.
- Few people live to be one hundred.
A few: Describes a positive quantity. It means some, or a small number and is used with countable nouns.
- A few friends visited me in hospital.
- I might be a few minutes late.
- I’ll be away on business for a few days.
- She knows quite a few vegetarians.
Little and A little
Little: Describes a negative quantity, nearly none or hardly any. It also describes a small size.
- The little puppy needed a home.
- He spoke very little English; it was hard to understand him.
- He had little money and could not buy food for his family.
A little: Describes a positive quantity. It means some, a small amount, but not much. It is used with uncountable nouns.
- Do you speak English? Yes, a little.
- I had a little money, enough to get a bus home.
- We’ve got a little time before the train arrives, let’s get a coffee.