Adjective Phrase - Explore What It Is, How to Form and Use It in Sentences with Examples

As an English language learner, you would have been introduced to words, phrases and clauses. By learning the parts of speech, you should have understood the functions of words and how they behave when used in the different parts of a sentence. Phrases and clauses seem to be bigger word chunks than words, and are integral parts of a sentence. Both phrases and clauses are classified into different types based on how they behave when used in a sentence. Among the types of phrases, adjective phrases can be used to provide elaborate information about the subject or object. In this article, you will be introduced to adjective phrases, their meaning, definition and usage along with examples. Read through the following topics to gain an in-depth knowledge of the same.

Table of Contents

What is an Adjective Phrase? – Meaning and Definition

An adjective phrase, as the term suggests, is a phrase that functions just like an adjective in a sentence. It is a group of words that are put together in order to qualify the noun or pronoun that acts as the subject or object of a sentence. It is also referred to as an ‘adjectival phrase’.

According to the Collins Dictionary, an adjective phrase is defined as “a group of words based on an adjective, such as ‘very nice’ or ‘ interested in football.’ An adjective phrase can also consist simply of an adjective.” The Macmillan Dictionary defines an adjective phrase as “a group containing at least one adjective (the head), and often other items such as adverbs and prepositional phrases.”

Forming, Identifying and Using an Adjective Phrase – Tips and Points to Remember

To learn how to form an adjective phrase, you should first know what the different components that can make up an adjective phrase are. So, here is what you need to know. An adjective phrase can consist of,

Now, take a look at the points you have to bear in mind when forming and using adjective phrases:

  • See that the phrase performs the role of an adjective.
  • Also, remember that removing the adjective phrase from the sentence will not change the meaning of the sentence as they are only required to give extra information about the subject or object in the sentence.
  • When multiple adjectives are used to form an adjective phrase, make sure you follow the order of adjectives; otherwise, the sentence will look faulty and might also alter the meaning of the sentence. This will also shift the priority you are giving to a particular quality of the subject or object.
  • Punctuating a sentence containing an adjective phrase is not that tricky. You just have to follow three simple rules.
    • If an adjective phrase is positioned at the start of a sentence, use a comma after the phrase.
    • If an adjective phrase appears in the middle of a sentence, make sure you enclose it within commas, and
    • If an adjective phrase is found towards the end of a sentence, you need not use any punctuation mark.
  • One last point that you should know is that there can be more than one adjective phrase describing the same noun in a sentence.

Here are some tips to aid you in identifying the presence of an adjective phrase in a sentence.

  • The first thing that you can do is locate the nouns/pronouns/noun phrases in the sentence.
  • Once you do that, try to identify adjectives or other groups of words that are describing the subject/object in the sentence.
  • Check out phrases rendering descriptive details, which, even if removed, makes the sentence look complete and does not change the meaning. You might wonder why there should be an adjective phrase in the sentence at all, if it does not change the meaning of the sentence even when removed. Adjective phrases give extra, but valuable information about the subject/object, and that is the reason we use them in sentences.

Difference between an Adjective Phrase and an Adjective Clause

One other thing that will help you master the use of adjective phrases is knowing what makes an adjective phrase different from an adjective clause. Have a look at the table below to find out.

Adjective Phrase

Adjective Clause

  • An adjective phrase is a group of words (consisting of an adjective and either of the already discussed components) that qualify a noun or pronoun in a sentence.
  • An adjective clause is a larger chunk of words (consisting of a relative pronoun and a verb form) that describes a noun or pronoun in a sentence.
  • An adjective phrase should contain at least one adjective.
  • An adjective clause does not necessarily require an adjective.
  • Example:
    • The girl, from India, has been chosen as the Vice President.
  • Example:
    • The girl, who is from India, has been chosen as the Vice President of the English Literary Association.

Examples of Adjective Phrases

Taking a look at some sentence examples will help you better, now that you know how to form and identify an adjective phrase. So here they are. Go through them.

Adjective Phrases with Multiple Adjectives

When using multiple adjectives to form an adjective phrase, make sure you follow the order of adjectives. The determiner should come first, followed by adjectives that describe the quantity, opinion, size, age, shape, colour, origin, material and purpose/qualifier respectively and then the noun. Take a look at the following examples to see how this works.

  • The five young Japanese students have shifted here for the exchange programme.
  • I really loved your new pink georgette saree.
  • My mom decided to give away my old and unused school uniforms.

Adjective Phrases with Compound Adjectives

Forming adjective phrases with compound adjectives can be done by using just a compound adjective or a compound adjective along with other adjectives.

  • We decided to stay in a newly-built house on 6th street.
  • Hani said that she enjoyed watching the Spanish coming-of-age series.
  • The bright-eyed Indian girl became popular after she participated in the Indian Idol Dance competition.

Adjective Phrases with the Comparative and Superlative Degrees of Comparison

The comparative and superlative degrees of comparison can be considered as adjective phrases. Take a look at the examples given below.

  • Darren is taller than his brother, Chris.
  • Reports have said that it is this year’s most unexpected event.
  • Fatima said that it is not easy for her to choose which one is her most favourite movie.

Adjective Phrases Using Prepositions/Prepositional Phrases

Adjective phrases can be formed with the use of prepositions such as like, from, of, about, with, on, in, under, above, across, before, at, after, behind, over, etc. To identify if a prepositional phrase functions as an adjective phrase, you have to first find out the object of the preposition and other words related to the object of the preposition. In case the other word related to the object of the preposition is a noun or pronoun, then the prepositional phrase qualifies as an adjective phrase. The object of a preposition is the noun or pronoun that follows the preposition.

  • Merin, the girl with long hair, visited our store today.
  • The man, on the bike, is my uncle.
  • My father gifted me a box of my favourite ferrero-rocher chocolates.

Adjective Phrases Containing Adverbs

Adjective phrases can be formed by making use of adverbs of manner.

  • A few very helpful tips were given by the volunteers.
  • We had to perform some extremely tiring routines to become an expert in this field.
  • My brother, absolutely terrified, did not know what to do and was zoning out.

Check Your Understanding of Adjective Phrases

Read through the exercise given below. Analyse them and identify the adjective phrases in the following sentences.

1. The boy in the red shirt is new here.

2. Which one of your trips would you describe as the most adventurous one?

3. Is the bag by the table yours?

4. Are you shorter than your brother?

5. The boy with the Porsche was noticed by everyone.

6. Can you buy me a box of white homemade chocolates when you come back?

7. The red-haired Portuguese boy impressed all his teachers in no time.

8. All the children have read the play about the poor man and the king.

9. The city is expecting very few sunny days this month.

10. The tall Egyptian building is one among the wonders of the world.

Check out the underlined words in the following sentences to find out if you have identified the adjective phrases accurately.

1. The boy in the red shirt is new here.

2. Which one of your trips would you describe as the most adventurous one?

3. Is the bag by the table yours?

4. Are you shorter than your brother?

5. The boy with the Porsche was noticed by everyone.

6. Can you buy me a box of white homemade chocolates when you come back?

7. The red-haired Portuguese boy impressed all his teachers in no time.

8. All the children have read the play about the poor man and the king.

9. The city is expecting very few sunny days this month.

10. The tall Egyptian building is one among the wonders of the world.

Frequently Asked Questions on Adjective Phrases

What is an adjective phrase?

An adjective phrase, as the term suggests, is a phrase that functions just like an adjective in a sentence. It is a group of words that are put together in order to qualify the noun or pronoun that acts as the subject or object of a sentence. It is also referred to as ‘adjectival phrases’.

What is the definition of an adjective phrase?

According to the Collins Dictionary, an adjective phrase is defined as “a group of words based on an adjective, such as ‘very nice’ or ‘ interested in football.’ An adjective phrase can also consist simply of an adjective.” The Macmillan Dictionary defines an adjective phrase as “a group containing at least one adjective (the head), and often other items such as adverbs and prepositional phrases.”

What are the components of an adjective phrase?

An adjective phrase can be formed with the use of the following components.

  • Adjectives
  • Adverbs
  • Prepositions/Prepositional phrases
  • Articles
  • Modifiers and Determiners

How can you identify an adjective phrase?

To identify an adjective phrase, this is what you should do.

  • Locate the nouns/pronouns/noun phrases.
  • Now, look for words that describe them.

Give some examples of adjective phrases.

Here are a few examples of adjective phrases for your references.

  • We had to perform some extremely tiring routines to become an expert in this field.
  • Fatima said that it is not easy for her to choose which one is her most favourite movie.
  • The five young Japanese students have shifted here for the exchange programme.
  • Hani said that she enjoyed watching the Spanish coming-of-age series.
  • The man on the bike is my uncle.

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