How To Use Adjectives

What are adjectives?

Adjectives are words we use to describe a noun.  We use them to give more information about a person, place or thing.

 

Example:

He is a tall man. 

The word ‘tall’ describes the man so we know he is tall.

What are some common examples?

There are many common adjectives in English.  Here are ten examples.

  1. Big
  2. Small
  3. Hot
  4. Cold
  5. Long
  6. Short
  7. Kind
  8. Mean
  9. Beautiful
  10. Ugly

How do I use adjectives?

The most common way to use adjectives is to put them in front of the noun.

 

Examples:

I like hot coffee.

He wants a small dog.

Hot and small are the adjectives so we put them before the nouns.

 

You can also put adjectives after verbs like “to be.”
 
Examples:
He is hungry.
Those cars are fast.
I am short.

What can adjectives describe?

Adjectives can give information about size, color, quantity and much more!
 
Examples:
The girl is beautiful.  (opinion)
I like drinking warm water. (temperature)
It’s a wooden table. (material)
The house is big. (size)
It’s a round clock.  (shape)
He’s an old man. (age)
I love Chinese food. (origin)
He wants a red car. (colour)

Are there different types of adjectives?

Yes, there are many different types of adjectives.

1. Descriptive adjectives

Descriptive adjectives are used to say what something is like.  Most adjectives are descriptive adjectives.
 
Examples:

The car is fast. (Fast is describing the car.  It is telling us what the car is like.)

Those people are hungry.  (Hungry is describing the people.)

2. Quantitative adjectives

These adjectives are used to say a number or quantity of something.  We normally use quantitative adjectives when someone asks ‘how much’ or ‘how many’.

 

Examples:

They have three dogs.  (How many dogs?  Three.)

I have four litres of water.  (How much water?  Four liters.)

3. Demonstrative adjectives

These adjectives are used to say which noun/subject you are talking about.  Demonstrative adjectives include this, that, these and those.

 
Examples:
Those people are nice.  (Which people?  Those people.)
That dog is his.  (Which dog?  That dog.)

4. Proper adjectives

Proper adjectives are proper nouns changed into adjectives.

 
Examples:
Chinese food is delicious.
I like American people.

5. Possessive adjectives

Possessive adjectives show who owns something and are normally used before nouns.

 

Examples:

My bike is over there.

Have you seen their new house?

6. Article adjectives

Articles (a, an and the) describe nouns.  This means that articles are adjectives.

 

Examples:

The dogs are hungry.
A piece of cake always makes me feel better!

7. Indefinite adjectives

Indefinite adjectives tell us something about a noun but it does not give us specific details or information.

 

Examples:
He gave her some cake.  (We don’t know how much cake he gave to her.)
Several students came to class late.  (We don’t know exactly how many students came late.)

8. Interrogative adjectives

Interrogative adjectives ask a question.  We always need to use them with a noun or a subject.

 

Examples:
Which cat do you like?
Whose cat is that?

Do adjectives have a plural form?

No, adjectives do not have a plural form.  There is only one form of an adjective which means you never change the form of an adjective
 
Examples:
They are happy.
He is happy.
 
In the above examples, happy is the adjective.  We do not change its form when we use a plural noun/subject.

What order do I put adjectives in?

The correct order of adjectives in a sentence is:

  1. Quantity
  2. Opinion
  3. Size
  4. Age
  5. Shape
  6. Color
  7. Origin
  8. Material
  9. Purpose

She is a beautiful young woman.  (2 – opinion, 4 – age)

The small round wooden table is mine. (3 – size, 5 – shape, 8 – material)

 

It’s not normal to use more than three adjectives in one sentence so don’t worry if you can’t remember the correct order.

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