ESL – Adjectives – Part 1

21 April

Adjectives – Part 1


What Are Adjectives?

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.

In the sentences above, the adjectives are easy to spot because they come immediately before the nouns they modify.

But adjectives can do more than just modify nouns. They can also act as a complement to linking verbs or the verb to be. A linking verb is a verb like to feel, to seem, or to taste that describes a state of being or a sensory experience.

That cow sure is happy.

It smells gross in the locker room.

Driving is faster than walking.

The technical term for an adjective used this way is predicate adjective.

Uses of Adjectives

Adjectives tell the reader how much—or how many—of something you’re talking about, which thing you want passed to you, or which kind of something you want.

Please use three white flowers in the arrangement.

Three and white are modifying flowers.

Often, when adjectives are used together, you should separate them with a comma or conjunction. See “Coordinate Adjectives” below for more detail.

I’m looking for a small, good-tempered dog to keep as a pet.

My new dog is small and good-tempered.

Part 2 is in a few days time.


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