Adjectives Possessive Adjectives Demonstrative Adjectives
Interrogative Adjectives Indefinite Adjectives "A" Adjectives
Adjectival Opposites Collective Adjectives Capitalizing Adjectives
  Quantity Adjectives Back to Exercises


A word of caution about adjectives: Don't expect more of them than you should. Nouns and verbs are the basis of a sentence. Adjectives are used to give some color and interest to the thoughts. DO NOT OVER-USE ADJECTIVES!

When you use adjectives, for example like: dull, interesting, beautiful, lovely, exhilarating, exciting they sound fine, but they  don’t really describe something enough. You need to let your reader understand why something is dull, interesting, etc.  Just using an adjective doesn't say enough.

Adjectives describe, identify, or modify nouns and pronouns. An adjective can come before the word that it modifies. Since adjectives describe how something "is", the verb be is usually used with them. 

Correct:    An apple is red. 

Incorrect:  an apple red.  

NOTE: Adjectives don't have a singular, plural, masculine, feminine, or  neuter form. They are always the same except in the comparative or superlative form (usually made by adding an er or est ending).

 Where do you put adjectives?

  1. Before the noun: I love pepperoni pizza. Adjectives are seldom placed directly after the noun.
  2. After the pronoun: When the indefinite pronouns something, someone, anybody, etc., are modified by an adjective, the adjective comes after the pronoun: Someone mean enough to kick a dog would also kick a child. Anyone decent would abhor that behavior. Something good will always come to those who have patience.
  3. After certain verbs: to be, to become, to get, to seem, to look, to feel, to sound, to smell, to taste. Her skin feels soft.

Even though the adjective is after the verb, it does not describe the verb.  It describes the subject of the verb (usually a noun or pronoun).

* Occasionally, certain adjectives in combination with certain words do come after the word they modify: (The heir apparent to the throne lives in Geneva proper.)

Types of Adjectives

Collective Adjectives

When the is combined with an adjective describing a class or group of people, the result can act as a noun:  the young, the rich, the elderly, the homeless, etc. The difference between a collective noun (which is usually regarded as singular) and a collective adjective is that the collective adjective is always considered plural and needs a plural verb:

Possessive Adjectives

 Possessive adjectives: my, your, his, her, its, our, their are similar to possessive pronouns of the objective case, EXCEPT that they are used as adjectives and modify a noun or a noun phrase. 

Note: mine, yours, hers, ours, theirs are not used to modify a noun or noun phrase.


Demonstrative Adjectives

This, these, that, those, and what are identical to the demonstrative pronouns, but may also be used as demonstrative adjectives.

 Interrogative Adjectives

which, what, and whose are interrogative pronouns (words used to ask questions) that can be used to modify a noun or noun phrase. What is a word used to ask a general question. Which is a word used to ask someone to make a choice from a number of possible choices. (example: Which bills have to be paid today? There are seven on the table.)

 Indefinite Adjectives

Indefinite pronouns many, some, few, all, most, etc. may be used as indefinite adjectives, modifying nouns, or noun phrases.

 "A-" Adjectives

Adjectives beginning with "a-" like: ablaze, afloat, afraid, aghast, alert, alike, alive, alone, aloof, ashamed, asleep, averse, awake, aware, are usually predicate adjectives, i.e., they usually come after linking verbs, such as: am, is, are, was, were, being, been, etc.

"A-" adjectives are sometimes modified by very much as in very much alive, very much alone.


ADVANCED STUDENTS: If you want to learn about a-adjectives that come before nouns, i.e., the alert horse, the ashamed child, you should research it using other grammar resources. This construction is not used in normal everyday conversational English.


Capitalizing Adjectives

If an adjective is made from a proper noun, it is usually capitalized: Truman administration, Hitler youth, Danish pastry, Greek food, Egyptian music, etc.  Some specific periods of history are also capitalized, such as the Roaring Twenties, Victorian drama, the Churchill years, Renaissance painters.  Adjectives using seasons of the year or directions are not capitalized unless they are part of a title. They always took the south road when they left town. Saturday is the annual Spring Fling.


Adjective Opposites (antonyms)

To make the opposite of an adjective, add one of the appropriate prefixes: un, im, ir, mis, il, etc. to  make a word negative. You must consult a dictionary to know which prefix to use.  Here are a few examples:

Putting less or least in front of an adjective doesn't make it a true opposite, but it does show the reader or listener a comparison that points in the opposite direction. It also sounds more polite than a harsh negative statement. 

        He is less handsome than his brother is. instead of  He is uglier than his brother is.

        Mary is less slender than her sister is. instead of  Mary is fatter than her sister is.

Don’t use less or least with an adjective that is already a negative. “She is less ungracious than her cousin” should be written, "She is less gracious than her cousin."  Use less when the comparison is between two things or people and least when the comparison is among three of more things or people.


Quantity Adjectives with Countable and Uncountable Nouns

Note that quantity words can be used in combinations such as many more, far fewer, much more, and much lessSome can be used with how to form questions and relative clauses.  Not and no can also be used with most of these to form negatives.

Both some and any modify countable and uncountable nouns.

 Much is used only with uncountable nouns. Many is used only with countable nouns.

a lot of and lots of (<<<very informal) are informal ways to say much and many. If they are used with uncountable nouns, they mean much, and if they are used with countable nouns, they mean many.

Little, a little, and quite a little, are used with uncountable nouns. Few, a few, and quite a few are used with countable nouns. Little and few, and very few mean not much or not many. Quite a little and quite a few mean much or many.

 NOTE: You may see or hear quite a little meaning much in books or regional speech, (which can be very confusing!) but it's not used as often as quite a bit.

These are for informal usage and always precede an uncountable noun: a little bit of, quite a bit of

 The word enough modifies both countable and uncountable nouns.

 The words plenty of modify both countable and uncountable nouns.

The word no modifies both countable and uncountable nouns.


Note: some is used with countable and uncountable nouns

much, less, little, a little, very little, some
some, any, most, more, all, a lot of, no, none of the
many, both, several, few/fewer/fewest, a few, quite a few, one of the, a couple of
each, every, any, one
Use with: Use with: Use with: Use with:
Countable plural 
Countable plural 
Countable singular