A language without adjectives would be very boring. How would we talk about juicy steaks, rose-pink sunsets, hearty laughter or crisp linen sheets?
In English, adjectives fall into the category called modifiers. (A modifier is a word that either describes or limits the meaning of the word it refers to.) There are two main classes of modifiers: adjectives and adverbs. This article focusses on adjectives.
An adjective is a word that modifies a noun or a pronoun.
Descriptive adjectives answer the question what kind?, as in the following:
Limiting adjectives answer the questions which one(s)?, how much? or how many?, as in the following:
Adjectives are commonly found in two places in a sentence:
before a noun: a red iPod
(red describes the noun iPod)
after a linking verb: I am hungry.
(hungry describes the pronoun I)
Sometimes, for effect, a writer will put one or more adjectives after a noun:
The breeze, cool and fragrant, was delightful after the heat of the day.
(Cool and fragrant are adjectives describing the noun breeze.)
Yes, adjectives have three forms: positive, comparative and superlative.
The positive form is the adjective itself: tall.
The comparative is used to compare two persons or things:
The superlative is used to compare three or more persons or things:
Short adjectives of one syllable, and two-syllable adjectives ending in -le, -ow or -y form their comparative and superlative forms by adding the suffix -er or -est: faster, narrower, happiest, noblest.
To form the comparative or superlative of most other adjectives, we put the word more or most in front of them: more cautious, more secure, most outstanding, most reckless.
Note: Some two-syllable adjectives can form their comparatives and superlatives using either form: cleverer or more clever, friendliest or most friendly. In addition to clever and friendly, common examples are gentle, lively, narrow, quiet, silly, simple.
Yes, the following list shows six common adjectives with their irregular comparative and superlative forms:
The following are the most common don'ts:
gentler (not more gentler)
cleverest or most clever (not most cleverest)
The larger of the two race cars was damaged.
(not the largest)
The accident was fatal.
(not quite fatal)
The Broccoli Bar is the perfect restaurant for vegans.
(not the most perfect)