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A Summary of Adjectives

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In this section, we introduced ourselves to the adjective, which comes in a one-word form that either precedes or follows the noun it modifies.

When the adjective precedes the noun, it’s in the attributive position.

When it follows the noun, it’s in the predicative position.

Most one-word adjectives have positive, comparative, and superlative forms. As a rule, we add ‑er or ‑est to the positive form of adjectives of one or two syllables to form their comparative (‑er) or superlative (‑est) forms. For adjectives with three or more syllables, we ordinarily use more for the comparative and most for the superlative. These rules, like all rules in grammar, have their exceptions, so that we would not use the two-syllable adjective careful and say, He was carefuller. Instead, we’d say, He was more careful.

We also met those hard-to-classify words—a, an, and the. We call them articles, but they don’t constitute their own separate part of speech. Since we use articles to modify nouns, in much the same way we use adjectives, I included a discussion on problems associated with them in this section on adjectives.

We also took a brief look at other words acting as adjectives: demonstrative pronouns (this, that, these, those), possessive pronouns (my, his, her, their, etc.), quantifying words like many, much, and some, and nouns that act as adjectives.

We introduced ourselves to expressions called compound (or phrasal) adjectives. These multiword forms enable us to invent terms like the how’d-ya-like-to-hyphenate-this-adjective exercise.

Other multiword adjectives include the adjectival phrase, which savvy writers use all the time.

Finally, we took a quick look at the adjectival role played by five phrases (prepositional, present participial, past participial, infinitive, and adjectival) and by two basic kinds of clauses (restrictive and nonrestrictive). The point is this: A chunk of words must always be serving some function in a sentence. If that chunk is not acting as a verb, a noun, or an adverb, then chances are good it’s acting as an adjective.

Now we move on to another word that describes, the adverb.

 

Previous: Adjectives - Phrases and Clauses Next: Adverbs - Definition, Overview, and Lists of Examples

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