English Adjectives

Adjectives

An adjective is a describing word and gives us more information about a noun or noun phrase. It is normally placed in front of the word it is modifying. The adjective helps describe the noun and tells us more details about it.

Adjective: a word or phrase added to or related to a noun to modify or describe it. (Dictionary definition)

Without adjectives, our sentences would be very boring. Just take a minute and try to talk about something without using any adjective at all. It cannot be done! Adjectives are vital to making our words come alive.


An adjective will answer the questions: What kind is it? – I like the soft blanket. 

How many are there? – I have 2 sisters.

Which one is it? – Can I please have the blue notebook?

Colorful Adjectives

When we use more than one adjective in a sentence, there is a certain order we should follow.

  1. Determiners — articles, adverbs, and other limiters.
  2. Observation — post determiners and limiter adjectives (a real hero, a perfect idiot) and adjectives subject to subjective measure (beautiful, interesting), or objects with a value (best, cheapest, costly)
  3. Size and shape — adjectives subject to objective measure (wealthy, large, round), and physical properties such as speed.
  4. Age — adjectives denoting age (young, old, new, ancient, six-year-old).
  5. Color — adjectives denoting color (red, black, pale).
  6. Origin — denominal adjectives denoting source of noun (French, American, Canadian).
  7. Material — denominal adjectives denoting what something is made of (woolen, metallic, wooden).
  8. Qualifier — final limiter, often regarded as part of the noun (rocking chair, hunting cabin, passenger car, book cover).

Practice Exercises

Choose a favorite adjective to complete the sentences. If you keep thinking of the same one, then really concentrate to try and come up with new adjectives to expand your vocabulary. (A suggestion is to use a thesaurus to give you synonyms for commonly used words.)

1.  I asked for a _______________ sweater for Christmas. (color)

2.  Susan bought _______________ gifts for the holiday party. (quantity)

3.  She has a _______________ apartment in the city center. (size)

4.  My mother has a/an _______________ table she inherited from my grandmother, and she polishes it daily. (age)

5.  I wear a ________________ helmet when I ride my bicycle in the city. (use)

6.  My friend went on a _______________ vacation to the South of France last year. (opinion)

7.  I want to buy _______________ apples. They look so delicious! (demonstrative)

8. My _______________ friends can speak both Cantonese and Mandarin. (origin)

9. I want to wear my _______________ jacket today. The weather is going to be very cold! (material)