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What is an Adjective ?

Adjectives are words that describe or modify other words, which makes writing and speaking much more descriptive and much more interesting. Words like small, blue, and sharp are descriptive, and all are examples of adjectives.

An adjective is a word that modifies a noun (or pronoun) to make it more specific: a «rotten» egg, a «cloudy» day, a «charming» lady or a glass of «tall» and «fresh» water.

Because adjectives are used to identify or quantify individuals and unique things, they are usually placed before the noun or pronoun they modify. Some sentences contain multiple adjectives.

Types of Adjectives

Remember that adjectives can modify and describe other words, and you will find it much easier to identify different types of adjectives when you see them.

Possessive Adjectives

As the name implies, possessive adjectives are used to indicate possession. They are:


Possessive adjectives also function as possessive pronouns.

Demonstrative Adjectives

«This», «that», «these» and «those» are Demonstrative Adjectives. A demonstrative adjective modifies a noun (e.g. that dog) or a pronoun (e.g. this) to make it specific.

Easy examples of demonstrative adjectives:

In these examples, the noun or pronoun being modified is in bold.

  • This shark is pregnant.
  • That lady seems worried.
  • Take these with you.

(Here, the demonstrative adjective modifies a pronoun):

Put those cans in the closet.

«This» and «that» as Demonstrative Adjectives modify singular nouns. The demonstrative adjectives «These» and «those» modify plural nouns.

This,» «these,» «these,» «these,» and «this,» as Demonstrative Adjectives, tell us that the thing being modified is near, while «that,» «that,» «that,» «those,» «those,» tell us that the thing is farther away.

  • This dish is hot. (This tells us that the dish is near).
  • Can you see that ranch? (That tells us the ranch is not nearby.)
  • These flowers smell good. (This tells us that the flowers are nearby).
  • Don’t go near those dogs. (They tell us the dogs aren’t around.)

Numerical Adjectives

When used in sentences, numbers are almost always adjectives. You can say that a number is an adjective when you answer the question «How many ?»

  • The stagecoach was dragged by a team of six
  • He ate 23 hot dogs during the contest and got sick afterwards.

Interrogative Adjectives

There are three interrogative adjectives: which, what and whose, which modify nouns.

These three words are used to ask questions.

  • Which option sounds better to you?
  • What time should we go?
  • Whose socks are these?

Indefinite Adjectives

Indefinite adjectives are used to discuss non-specific things. You can recognize them, since they are formed by indefinite pronouns. The most common indefinite adjectives are any, many, no, several, and few.

Attributive Adjectives

Attributive adjectives speak of specific traits, qualities, or characteristics; in other words, they are used to discuss attributes. There are different types of attributive adjectives:

Observation adjectives such as real, perfect, better, interesting, beautiful, or cheaper can indicate value or talk about subjective measures.

Adjectives of size and shape speak of measurable and objective qualities that include specific physical properties. Some examples include small, large, square, round, poor, rich, slow, and

Age adjectives denote specific ages in numbers, as well as general ages. The examples are old, young, new, five years old, and

Color adjectives are exactly as they sound: they are adjectives that indicate color. Examples include pink, yellow, blue, among others.

Original adjectives indicate the source of the noun, whether it is a person, place, animal or thing. Examples include American, Canadian, Mexican, French.

Material adjectives denote what something is made of. Some examples include cotton, gold, wool, among others.

Qualifying adjectives are often considered part of a noun. They make nouns more specific; examples include log cabins, luxury cars, and pillowcases.

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