Adjectives - Definition, Forms, Types, Usage and Examples

Crazy, intelligent, fun, interesting! Does it sound like you or someone you know? Do you know what these words mean or what part of speech they belong to? Did you say ‘adjectives’? You guessed it right. Let us learn more about adjectives, its meaning, definition and types. Check out the examples and see how they can be used in sentences effectively.

Table of Contents

What Is an Adjective?

An adjective is a part of speech that can be used to describe or provide more information about a noun or pronoun that acts as the subject in a sentence. Adjectives are found after the verb or before the noun it modifies.

Definition of an Adjective

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, an adjective is defined as “a word that describes a noun or pronoun.” The Collins Dictionary gives a more elaborate definition. According to it, “an adjective is a word such as ‘big’, ‘ dead’, or ‘ financial’ that describes a person or thing, or gives extra information about them. Adjectives usually come before nouns or after link verbs.”

The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary defines an adjective as “a word that describes a person or thing, for example ‘big’, ‘red’ and ‘clever’ in a big house, red wine and a clever idea.” An adjective is “a word belonging to one of the major form classes in any of numerous languages and typically serving as a modifier of a noun to denote a quality of the thing named, to indicate its quantity or extent, or to specify a thing as distinct from something else”, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Forms of Adjectives – Degrees of Comparison

Did you know that adjectives can be used to compare similar qualities of different subjects that perform the same action. There are three forms of adjectives or rather three degrees of comparison. The are:

  • Positive or Absolute Form
  • Comparative Form
  • Superlative Form

Positive Degree of Comparison:

The positive form or the positive degree of comparison is the form of the adjective used in the original form. For example: This book is interesting. This form of adjective is used when there is no other subject to be compared.

Comparative Degree of Comparison

The comparative form of the adjective is used when two subjects performing the same action or possessing the same quality are compared. For example: The book I read yesterday was more interesting than the one I read today.

Superlative Degree of Comparison

The superlative degree of comparison is used when comparing the same quality of two or more subjects and to represent that a subject is superior to two or more subjects in performing an action. For example: This fantasy novel is the most interesting book that I have ever read.

Types of Adjectives

Adjectives can be divided into different categories based on their functions when used in a sentence. The different types of adjectives are:

Possessive Adjectives:

These adjectives, like possessive pronouns, are used to show or represent possession of a quality. For example: my, your, his, her, their, its, whose, etc.

Interrogative Adjectives:

An adjective that is used to modify a noun or a pronoun by asking a question is called an interrogative adjective. There are only a few adjectives that can be termed as interrogative adjectives. They are whose, what and which.

Demonstrative Adjectives:

Demonstrative adjectives are mainly used to describe the position of a subject (a noun or pronoun) in space or time. This, that, these and those are the demonstrative adjectives in English.

Compound Adjectives:

Compound adjectives consist of two or more adjectives that are combined together to form an adjective that can be used to modify the subject. Some examples of compound adjectives are cotton-tailed, curly-haired, absent-minded, happy-go-lucky, etc.

How to Use Adjectives in Sentences?

Adjectives are known to give your writing and speech a very flowery look. It aids in making it descriptive and also in giving your readers and listeners a visual treat. However, stuffing it with too many adjectives can make it look or sound vague and unclear. This would only lead to misunderstanding of your content. Knowing when, where and how to use adjectives is a skill that you should master.

Any piece of writing should be clear and precise. Find out if there is a word that specifically means whatever you are trying to convey. For example: quick, swift, hasty, fleet, etc. are all adjectives that mean ‘very fast’. Likewise, contented, cheerful, merry, joyful, ecstatic, delighted, etc. are all words that describe different degrees of happiness. There is also another concept that you should know. There is a particular order in which you should place adjectives when you are using two or more adjectives to describe the same subject or object. Check out the order of adjectives to learn more.

Examples of Adjectives

If you are wondering what part of speech a colour or a number belongs to, do not waste any more time thinking about it. All colours and numbers are classified as adjectives. Adjectives are words that modify nouns but in most cases, they can be seen to be doing much more than that. Given below are the various ways in which adjectives can function and be used.

Adjectives as Complements

Adjectives can act as complements that modify nouns that act as subjects and objects. When the adjective describes the object in a sentence, it is called an object complement and when it is used to describe the subject in a sentence, it is referred to as a subject complement. They are seen to be used in sentences which are seen to use the following patterns:

  • SVC – Aaron is good.

In the above example, the adjective is ‘good’ and it is used to describe the subject ‘Aaron’ and so it is called a subject complement.

  • SVOC – The movie made Karthik sleepy.

Here, the adjective ‘sleepy’ describes the object ‘Karthik’ and so comes under the category of object complements.

Adjectives as Coordinates

When two or more adjectives are used to describe the same noun in a sentence, they are called coordinate adjectives. Coordinate adjectives are often separated by a comma or the conjunction ‘and’.

For example:

  • The mobile phone is easy to use and handy.
  • My cousin is tall and thin.

Multifunctional Adjectives

Adjectives can be made to function like or take the role of nouns in a sentence, and sometimes, a noun, when used to describe or provide more information about another noun, can perform the role of an adjective.

For example:

  • I like my English teacher.

In the above example, the word ‘English’ is generally considered a noun as it represents a language and it is a proper noun. But here, it is used to describe the noun ‘teacher’ which makes it an adjective.

  • It is our duty to tend to the poor and the oppressed.

In this sentence, the words ‘the poor’ and ‘the oppressed’ pass off as nouns as it refers to ‘poor people’ and ‘oppressed people’. So, when adjectives are preceded by the article ‘the’, it often refers to a category of people which makes the adjective a noun.

In addition to these types of adjectives, there are also phrases and clauses which act just like an adjective. To know what they are and how they work in a sentence, check out the articles on adjective phrases and adjective clauses.

Check out the adjectives list for an extensive list of adjectives that you can make use of in your daily communication and work out exercises on adjectives to brush up your knowledge of it.

Check Your Knowledge of Adjectives

Identify the adjectives in the following sentences:

1. I bought a red dress for the wedding.

2. I have eight apples.

3. The food is delicious.

4. My brother is naughty.

5. The movie we watched last night was boring.

6. Pablo Picasso is a fine artist.

7. The weather in Chennai is sultry all round the year.

8. Now is a great time to visit the United States.

9. It was a fabulous drive.

10. The Marina Beach is the longest beach in India.

 

You should have definitely got it all right. Check them out.

1. I bought a red dress for the wedding.

2. I have eight apples.

3. The food is delicious.

4. My brother is naughty.

5. The movie we watched last night was boring.

6. Pablo Picasso is a fine artist.

7. The weather in Chennai is sultry all round the year.

8. Now is a great time to visit the United States.

9. It was a fabulous drive.

10. The Marina Beach is the longest beach in India.

Frequently Asked Questions on Adjectives in English

What is an adjective?

An adjective is a part of speech that can be used to describe or provide more information about the noun or pronoun that acts as the subject in a sentence. Adjectives are found after the verb or before the noun it modifies.

What is the definition of an adjective?

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, an adjective is defined as “a word that describes a noun or pronoun.” The Collins Dictionary gives a more elaborate definition. According to them, “an adjective is a word such as ‘ big’, ‘ dead’, or ‘ financial’ that describes a person or thing, or gives extra information about them. Adjectives usually come before nouns or after link verbs.”
The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary defines an adjective as “a word that describes a person or thing, for example ‘big’, ‘red’ and ‘clever’ in a big house, red wine and a clever idea.” An adjective is “a word belonging to one of the major form classes in any of numerous languages, and typically serving as a modifier of a noun to denote a quality of the thing named, to indicate its quantity or extent, or to specify a thing as distinct from something else”, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

What are the forms of adjectives?

There are three forms of adjectives in English grammar. They are also called the degrees of comparison. The three forms of adjectives are:

  • The Positive or Absolute Form
  • The Comparative Form
  • The Superlative Form

What are the types of adjectives?

Adjectives can be divided into different categories based on their functions when used in a sentence. The different types of adjectives are:

  • Possessive Adjectives
  • Interrogative Adjectives
  • Demonstrative Adjectives
  • Compound Adjectives

Give some examples of adjectives.

Happy, depressed, hardworking, successful, skilled, sloppy, green, tampered, dilapidated, fixed, healthy, etc. are some examples of adjectives.

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