What is an Adjective?

ADJECTIVES modify or affect the meaning of nouns and pronouns and tell us which, whose, what kind, and how many about the nouns or pronouns they modify. They generally come before the noun or pronoun they modify, but there are exceptions to that rule. Adjectives can take many forms, but the most important way to tell if a word is an adjective is to decide if it clarifies, explains, or limits a noun or pronoun. If not, the word cannot be an adjective. Adjectives are not limited in how many can be used with a noun to modify it.

  • There are seven (7) words in the English language that are always adjectives. They are the articles a, an, and the and the possessivesmy, our, your, and their.
    • An elephant is my friend.
  • Other pronouns can also be used as adjectives, but they are not always adjectives as the seven mentioned above. Demonstrative, interrogative pronouns and indefinite pronouns; when used with a noun become adjectives.

§ Demonstrative pronouns, this, that, these, those

§ Interrogative pronouns, whose, which, what

§ Indefinite pronouns,another, any, both, each, either, many, neither, one, other, some, etc.

  • Numbers can be adjectives, but only if they modify a noun or pronoun.

§ The ten boys ate the 14 pickles. (Both are adjectives)

§ The ten ate the eggs. (Not an adjective-why?)

  • Nouns and Possessives can be adjectives as well.

§ July storms, winter weather, Jim’s boat, boy’s bed.

  • Verb Forms can be adjectives—they are called participial adjectives.

§ the lost mine, the howling wolf

Comparative Adjectives

Adjectives can be used in a comparison, which means we change the form of the adjective when speaking of one, two, or more than two. They change either by adding er or est to the adjective or by using the words more or most before the adjective. Some are irregular in their form and must be memorized or looked up in the dictionary. The dictionary gives the forms for most words using er or est to form comparisons. The three degrees of comparison are called (1) positive which states a quality of onething or person, (2) comparativewhich compares two things or persons, and (3) superlative which compares more than two things or persons.

Positive

Comparative

Superlative

New, careless, good

newer, more careless, better

newest, most careless, best


General Rules for Comparatives

  • In comparison of adjectives, one-syllable adjectives and some two-syllable adjectives (especially those ending in y or le)form the comparative with er and the superlative with est. Examples: new, newer, newest; jolly, jollier, jolliest.
  • Many two-syllable adjectives and almost all adjectives with three or more syllables use more or most to form the comparative and superlative forms. Examples: honest, more honest, most honest; careful, more careful, most careful.
  • Never use double comparisons. If you use er or est, then don’t use more or most.
  • There are a few adjectives that are irregular in their comparisons. The best known example is good. (Good, better, best)

§ Many, ill, much,perfect,bad are irregular.

A Few Rules for Using Adjectives Correctly

  • Use the article an before a word beginning with a vowel (a,e,i,o,u) or a vowel sound (words beginning with a silent h as heir, hour). Words that start with eu or u that are pronounced with a long u or pronounced like “you” use the article a before them.
    • Examples: an egg, an hour, an orange, an idea, a house, a mouse, a river, a boy, a ukulele, a eucalyptus tree.
  • When you are using separate nouns, be sure to use the articles (a, an, or the) before each noun. If only one thing or person is meant, do not repeat the article.
    • I need a secretary and a bookkeeper. ( two persons)
    • I need a secretary and bookkeeper. (one person)
  • Use this or that with kind or sort because both are singular; use these or those with kinds or sorts because both are plural.
    • Examples: this or that kind of stocks, these or those kinds of stocks, this or that sort of people, these or those sorts of people.
  • Do not use the pronoun them for the adjectives these or those.
    • Correct: Give me those papers.
    • Correct: Give me them.
    • Incorrect: Give me them papers.