Adjective: describing people and things

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When you want to give more information about something than you can give by using a noun alone, you can use an adjective to identify it or describe it in more detail.

  • …a new idea.
  • …new ideas.
  • …new creative ideas.
  • Ideas are important.
  • …to suggest that new ideas are useful.

The most important things to notice about an adjective in English are:

  • what structure it is in (e.g. before a noun or after a linking verb)
  • what type of adjective it is (e.g. describing a quality or placing the noun in a particular class).

Adjectives are nearly always used in connection with a noun or pronoun to give information about the person, thing, or group that is being referred to. When this information is not the main purpose of a statement, adjectives are placed in front of a noun, as in hot coffee.

Sometimes, however, the main purpose of a statement is to give the information expressed by an adjective. When this happens, adjectives are placed after a linking verb such as be or become, as in I am cold and He became ill.

Types of adjective

  • There is a large group of adjectives that identify qualities that someone or something has. This group includes words such as happy and intelligent. These are called qualitative adjectives.
  • There is another large group of adjectives that identify someone or something as a member of a class. This group includes words such as financial and intellectual. These are called classifying adjectives.
  • Some adjectives are both qualitative and classifying.
  • There is a small group of adjectives that identify the colour of something. This group includes words like blue and green. They are called colour adjectives.
  • Another small group of adjectives are used to emphasize your feelings about the person or thing you are talking about. These adjectives are called emphasizing adjectives, and they include adjectives such as complete, absolute, and utter.
  • There is a small group of adjectives that are used in a very similar way to determiners to make the reference more precise. These are called postdeterminers because their place in a noun phrase is immediately after the determiner, if there is one, and before any other adjectives.

Adjective structures

Adjectives are used in two main structures. One of them involves adjectives coming before the noun phrase. If you say Julia was carrying an old suitcase, your main purpose is to say that Juliawas carrying a suitcase. The adjective old gives more information about what kind of suitcase itwas.

  • He was wearing a white t-shirt.
  • …a technical term.
  • …a pretty little star-shaped flower bed.

Most adjectives can be used in this way.

The other main structure involves adjectives being used after linking verbs such as be and become. Putting an adjective after a linking verb has the effect of focusing attention on the adjective. If you say The suitcase she was carrying was old, your main purpose is to describe the

suitcase, so the focus is on the adjective old.

  • The roads are busy.
  • The house was quiet.
  • He became angry.
  • I feel cold.
  • Nobody seemed amused.

Most adjectives can be used in this way.

In the following examples, the first example in each pair shows an adjective being used before the noun, while the second example shows it being used with a linking verb.

  • There was no clear evidence.
  • ‘That’s very clear,’ I said.
  • It had been a pleasant evening.
  • It’s not a big stream, but it’s very pleasant.
  • She bought a loaf of white bread.
  • The walls were white.

Compound adjectives are here.

Source: Compound Nouns. (n.d.) The Farlex Grammar Book. (2016). Retrieved July 24 2020 from

Рубрики: IELTS

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