How to use adjectives?
Adjectives are great to be using when you are speaking in English and writing in English. If you want to add more detail to your speaking, describe something more vividly so that your reader or listener can imagine what you are talking about, then you should be using adjectives 🙂
We use adjectives in the English language to modify nouns.
That is, to define some specific features of nouns.
Adjectives can express physical qualities (for example, large, small, green), or an opinion (excellent, beautiful, stunning), or they classify something (industrial, rural).
An adjective always has the same form. There are no endings for number or gender. But some adjectives can have comparative and superlative endings.
tall – taller – the tallest
Some adjectives have the same form as adverbs, such as fast, hard.
Use of adjectives…
You can use two or more adjectives together, though when two or more adjectives come before a noun, there is often a fixed order.
Bear in mind that the order of adjectives depends mainly on the kind of meaning they express. Words such as beautiful or nice, which express the speaker’s opinion, come first. Words expressing purpose or type come later.
The different kinds of adjective usually go in the following order:
In general, the modifier closest to the noun has the closest association with the noun.
These rules are not absolute, and the order can sometimes be different. For example, it is sometimes preferred to put a short adjective before a long one.
a big horrible clown
Sometimes you can use two adjectives of similar meaning.
For example, you can use two from group 3.
When this happens, the shorter one often comes first.
a bright, cheerful smile
We also sometimes put and between two attributive adjectives. You can do this when the adjectives have a similar meaning.
a soft and comfortable couch
But you do not normally use and between adjectives with different kinds of meanings. a beautiful sandy beach
Use and when the adjectives refer to different parts of something.
a black and white skirt(partly black and partly white)
Use but when the adjectives refer to two qualities in contrast.
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We often put a comma (or a short pause in speech) between two adjectives of similar meaning.
a beautiful, nice sunset
You can put an adverb of degree (very, really) in front of most adjectives.
He is a really wise man.
But we do not normally use an adverb of degree with a classifying adjective such as rural, industrial, residential, etc.
The position of adjectives….
There are two main positions where an adjective can go.
You can also sometimes put an adjective after a noun.
I’ve got a friend keen on surfing.
You can use some adjectives after as or than.
Everything was the same as usual.
You can sometimes use an adjective immediately after a conjunction.
Pick the fruit when ripe.
– This sentence can be paraphrased into Pick the fruit when it is ripe. So, we still have the ‘predicative’ position of the adjective.
Adjectives used in one position only…
Some adjectives can go in attributive position (before a noun) but not in predicative position.
My eldest brother is a doctor.
These adjectives are: chief, elder (=older), eldest (=oldest), eventual, former (=earlier), indoor, inner, lone, main, mere (a mere child=only a child), only, outdoor, outer, own, premier, principal (=main), sheer (=complete), sole (=only), upper, utter (=complete).
Same cannot be predicative except with the.
My experience with him was the same.
Some adjectives can go in predicative position (after a linking verb such as be) but not in attributive position.
The children were asleep. – You cannot say the asleep children.
- some words with beginning in a-: afraid, alike, alive, alone, asleep, awake
- some words expressing feelings: ashamed, content, glad, pleased, upset
- some words to do with health: fine, ill, unwell, well.
Ashamed, glad, pleased, and upset can come in attributive position when they do not refer directly to a person, such as in an ashamed look, the glad news, a pleased expression, an upset stomach.
The order of predicative adjectives is less fixed than the order before a noun. We normally use and before the last adjective.
The chair was soft and cozy.
An adjective expressing an opinion often comes last.
The city is old and beautiful.
You can use but when the two qualities are in contrast.
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Adjectives after nouns and pronouns:
Some adjectives can have a prepositional phrase after them.
People were anxious for news on the case.
The adjective + prepositional phrase can go directly after the noun.
People anxious for news on the case kept calling his lawyer.
The adjective available can come before or after a noun.
None of the rooms available are convenient.
None of the available rooms are convenient.
Sometimes the position of the adjective depends on the meaning.
The amount of people involved is quite small. (=relevant)
It’s a rather involved story. (=complicated)
There were many people present at the concert. (=there)
The present situation is extremely undesirable. (=now)
What would be the responsible course of action? (=sensible)
The person responsible for the damage has been arrested. (=whose fault it is)
Adjectives come after a compound with every-, some-, any-, and no-.
Let’s go somewhere quiet where we could talk.
This is all you need to know about adjectives.
Just remember their position and the rest will come naturally.
Remember to practice! PPP (Perfect Practice makes Perfect)
If you do not practice using your English in a natural context, then you will loose your English. It is one thing to be able to know all of these rules, structures and hearing these tips; though another to be using and applying your knowledge!
A common mistake that many English learners make (maybe EVEN YOU!) is that they do not practice! The more you practice, the better you will get. You have to be practicing on a consistent basis, applying your knowledge. Only in this way WILL YOU IMPROVE YOUR SPOKEN ENGLISH.
Speaking with friends, communicating in English on a consistent basis, making mistakes, working on fixing your mistakes and getting feedback on your spoken English will help you identify YOUR common mistakes, work on these mistakes so that you CAN improve your spoken English and communication skills!
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