An adjective is a word that modifies a noun or a pronoun by describing it or making it more specific. An adjective answers the questions: Which one? What kind? How Many? Whose?
Adjectives include the articles “a, an,” and “the.” “A” and “an” are indefinite articles because they do not specify a particular person or thing. “The” is a definite article because it points out a particular item.
Look at that sunset. (Which sunset? That sunset.)
I love beautiful sunsets. (What kind of sunsets? Beautiful sunsets.)
Do you see the two American battleships? (Which battleships? The battleships. What kind of battleships? American battleships.)
Placement of adjectives: Adjectives often appear immediately before the nouns or pronouns they modify, but they may also come after a linking verb.
- Terrance looked up at the cloudless sky.
- The sky was cloudless.
- Terrance saw a powerful eagle soaring on the currents of the wind.
- The eagle was old, but it looked powerful soaring on the currents of the wind.
- The Corvette, fast and sleek, has long been a popular sports car.
- Fast and sleek, the Corvette has long been a popular sports car.
(Note: when adjectives come immediately or after or before the noun or pronoun they modify and are not linked with a verb, they are set off with commas.)
Proper adjectives: a proper adjective is an adjective formed from a proper noun and is usually capitalized.
1. European nations cooperated in establishing the League of Nations. (Which nations? European nations. Which League of Nations? The League of Nations.)
2. April showers bring May flowers. (Which showers? April showers. What kind of flowers? May flowers.)
Nouns that show possession also function as adjectives in sentences.
1. The pilots’ training is rigorous. (Whose training? The pilots training.)
2. Mary’s favorite dessert is chocolate cake. (Whose favorite dessert? Mary’s favorite dessert.)
Some possessive pronouns modify nouns and other pronouns and, therefore, function as adjectives:
My, our, your, his, her, its, and their
1. Tonight you will be able to witness a total eclipse of the moon through your telescope. (Whose telescope? Your telescope.)
2. Did you see my new model kit of the Batmobile? (Whose model kit? My model.)
Indefinite, demonstrative, and interrogative pronouns may also function as adjectives:
Indefinite—some, many, several, few
Demonstrative—this, that, these, those
Interrogative—which, what, whose
1. Some students are planning a field trip to the Zoo. .
2. Do you want to write an essay about this topic or that topic?
3. Which dress would you like to try on first?
Next, we have absolute adjectives, which are adjectives that describe things to the nth degree and, thus, cannot be modified or made greater. For example, unique and perfect are absolute adjectives. If something is unique, it is one of a kind; therefore, nothing can be more unique or most unique. And if something is perfect, it is without imperfection, and as a result, nothing can be more perfect or most perfect.
Correct: John’s new jacket is unique.
Incorrect: John’s new jacket is the most unique jacket I have ever seen.
Correct: Niagara Falls is the perfect place for a honeymoon.
Incorrect: Niagara Falls is the most perfect place on earth for a honeymoon.
Finally, there are comparative and superlative adjectives. We use comparative adjectives to compare two things and superlative to compare more than two things:
Basic Form: Bad, good, far, little, much
Comparative Form: worse, better, farther, less, more
Superlative Form: worst, best, farthest, least, most
My dog is better than your dog. (Comparative)
My dog is the best dog in the neighborhood. (Superlative)
This pie is worse than the last one you made.
This is, in fact, the worst pie you have ever made.
When the adjective consists of three or more syllables, use “more” for comparative and “most” for superlative.
Sue’s dress is more beautiful than Mary’s dress.
Sue’s dress is the most beautiful in the room.
Your wife is more unpredictable than my wife, isn’t she?
Yes, my wife is the most unpredictable woman in the world.