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Adjectives - Grammar

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If a word modifies a noun or pronoun, it is an adjective, even if that word is usually associated with a different part of speech. Adjectives usually come before nouns. Eg: Rape seed oil is an oil made from Rape seed, but Oilseed rape is the vegetable which this oil is made from.
A bus conductor is not a bus but a man who is a conductor.

Adjectives are used to tell us about nouns.
Adjectives usually go before the noun.
Adjectives don't change.
  1. This is a red car
  2. It's a French book
  3. The tall man
  4. The old house
  5. That tired dog
  6. Where is the big ball?

We use adjectives to tell us about a noun. This noun could be ourselves!? So we use adjectives with some verbs, especially be but also: get,become ,seem. We also use adjectives to say how someone or something looks feels,sounds,tastes or smells.

  1. Tom is a careful driver. (Not 'a carefully driver')
  2. please be quiet Not 'be quietly'
  3. I was dissapointed that my exam results were so bad
  4. We're Hungarian (We're Hungarian people)
  5. I'm sick
  6. The dinner smells good
  7. You look good ('You look well' is used to say 'You don't look Ill/sick')
Adjectives have an order when using two or more adjectives

The usual order of adjectives

A beautiful red French dress. A nasty old English teacher.
In English, it is common to use more than one adjective before a noun for example, "He's a silly young fool," or "She's a smart, energetic woman." When you use more than one adjective, you have to put them in the right order, according to type. This page will explain the different types of adjectives and the correct order for them.


  1. Opinion adjectives such as beautiful usually go before facts such as large
    1. Eg. A fast big old red Italian car.
  2. If there are two colours they are joined with and
    1. A fast red and white car.
    2. I'm a fast big old red English wooden man
    3. In this room there is a beautiful large round glass window
  3. When there is more than one adjective from a group we make a list of those adjectives using commas and 'and' in the same way as we make any other list.
  4. When there are 2 or more adjectives that are from the same group "and" is placed between the 2 adjectives.
    1. The house is green and red.
    2. The library has old and new books.
  5. When there are 3 or more adjectives from the same adjective group. Place a comma between each of the adjectives.
    A comma is not placed between an adjective and the noun.
    1. We live in the big, green, white and red house at the end of the street.
    2. My friend lost a red, black and white dog, if you see it please let me know.

Make sentences using the adjectives in this table

OpinionSize AgeShape Colour Origin Material purpose
a silly bigyoung square black English paperrocking man
afantastichuge ancient round scarlet Chinese metal colouring bowl
aclumsylittle junenile triangular greenVietnamese woodensleepingbag

Play the game "Add an adjective". One player starts a sentence with a noun.
For example: "I have a book".
The players then take turns to add one adjective to this sentence.
I have an English book.
I have a new English book.
I have an interesting new English book.

The Order

  1. Determiner- a, an, her, five, many, much several etc.
  2. Opinion - pretty, ugly, smart, cheap, Fast, beautiful, fantastic etc.
  3. Size big, tiny, fat, thin, tall, large, small etc.
  4. Shape - circle, square, tall, short etc.
  5. Age - old, young 10 years, a year, a week, new etc.
  6. Colour - yellow, green, pink etc.
  7. Origin - Italian, American, English, Asian, Middle Eastern, African, European, Chinese etc.
    (Note: some of these are plural nouns and some are singular nouns)
  8. Material (made of) - cotton, wooden, plastic, cloth, glass, gold, stone, concrete etc. (Note: What is the difference between metal and metalic?)
  9. purpose/Qualifier - hat box, sleeping bag, computer table,safe island, football field.


  1. He invited that beautiful young Italian lady to dinner.
  2. Why can't you wear your pink silk summer dress tonight?
  3. The boy needs ten small cotton balls for that activity
  4. I've booked that ___ table on the corner. big square
  5. Mary's husband gave her a ___ vase. French porcelain
  6. He broke Mother's ___ milk jug. old green
  7. My brother wants to meet that ___ girl. tall Japanese
  8. What do you plan to do with these ___ bottles? empty wine
  9. That ___ woman needs help. old foreign
  10. There are two ___ dresses in her closet. beautiful red
  11. Tom never lets his sister drive his ___ car. expensive sports
  12. When travelling to peru, make sure you visit the ___ ruins. ancient Inca
  13. She sells ___ cookies. delicious chocolate
  14. The room was decorated with ___ balloons. big red

Adjective Opposites using prefixes

Sometimes we can form an opposite of an adjective by adding a prefix. For example:

  1. indecent
  2. unfriendly
  3. impossible
  4. disabled
  5. antisocial

What prefix is used to form the opposite of these adjectives?

conscious convenient correct employed
fair formal friendly healthy
honest legal necessary pleasant
polite punctual proportionate regular
usual well tidy satisfactory

Not all opposites can be formed this way. Sometimes we have to find another adjective with an opposite meaning. The opposite of big is small (not unbig).

We can make opposite meanings from some adjectives with a prefix. It is a good idea to learn these opposites together with the original adjective. Other adjectives need another different word to make the opposite.

Here are some examples of opposites formed with a prefix.


  1. un
  2. un


  1. in
  2. in


  1. im
  2. im


  1. dis
  2. dis


  1. mis
  2. mis


  1. anti-social
  2. antidisestablishmentarianism


  1. abnormal


  1. asymmetric

Adjective suffixes

Some verbs can be changed into adjective form by changing the ending of the word.


Adjective form

I would like to clarify the situation The situation is now clarified.
I will paint the house the house is now a painted house
  1. Originated
  2. Materialised
  3. Obliterated
  4. Canabalised
  5. fortified
  6. vapourised
  7. gratified

Some words can modify the adjective

  1. I'm very tired
  2. You're quite nice
  3. It's not very sunny today

You can't modify extreme adjectives with very.

  1. Extremely huge
  2. Very big

Some words are adjectives but can modify another adjective

  1. You're pretty
  2. You're ugly
  3. Your're pretty ugly (You're quite ugly)

Different types of Adjective

  1. Opinion An opinion adjective explains what you think about something (other people may not agree with you). Examples:
    silly, beautiful, horrible, difficult
  2. Size A size adjective, of course, tells you how big or small something is. Examples:
    large, tiny, enormous, little
  3. Age An age adjective tells you how young or old something or someone is. Examples:
    ancient, new, young, old
  4. Shape A shape adjective describes the shape of something. Examples:
    square, round, flat, rectangular
  5. Colour A colour adjective, of course, describes the colour of something. Examples:
    blue, pink, reddish, grey
  6. Origin An origin adjective describes where something comes from. Examples:
    French, lunar, American, eastern, Greek
  7. MaterialA material adjective describes what something is made from. Examples:
    wooden, metal, cotton, paper
  8. purpose A purpose
    adjective describes what something is used for. These adjectives often end with "-ing". Examples:
    sleeping (as in "sleeping bag"), roasting (as in "roasting tin")
    This comes right before the noun because it really is part of the noun. Like a compound noun.

Adjectives used to compare things

We often use adjectives to compare things Some adjectives are absolute and so we can only classify things but not compare things. Eg: unique, ultraviolet, biological. We can't say that something is more unique than another thing. Either something is unique or it isn't.

Some adjectives are extreme adjectives. With these adjectives we don't use very. Eg: Huge (Not Very huge). This is because Huge=Very big.

participle Adjectives

Adjectives ending in -ing or -ed (bored/boring)

participle adjectives are formed from the verb and have suffixes -ed or -ing. Classic exmples include; "The lecture was boring." and I was so bored that I almost fell asleep.

These nouns often come after the noun. usually adjectives come before the noun. Another common form where the adjective follows the noun occurs with the verb to be.

There are many adjective ending in -ing or -ed. For Example bored and boring. Think about this situation:
You have been doing the same job for a very long time. Every day you do exactly the same thing. You don't enjoy it any more and would like to do something different.
Your job is boring. You are bored with your job. Somebody is bored if something (or someone else) is boring If something is boring then it makes you bored

Cause and affect -ing or -ed

  1. AFFECT verb - to act upon, to change or to cause a change.
  2. AFFECTED - adjective - influenced by an outside force
  3. EFFECT - noun - result; consequence
  1. You are bored because your job is boring.
  2. Your job is boring ,so you are bored. (Not 'You are boring')
    If a person is boring, they make other people bored.
  3. Mark always talks about the same things. He's boring

Examples of participle adjectives

  1. I wrote to the person concerned.
  2. I got a rebate for tax paid.
  3. They worked through the night to repair the damage caused.
  4. I need to contact the people responsible.
  5. Did you receive the amount due?

One participle adjective per sentence

Each sentence may contain any number of verbs and adjectives, but only one word is a participle adjective.
past participle adjectives can usually be preceded by "It has been ..." Find the participle adjectives in these sentences

  1. Many kind carpenters offered to repair the broken window.
  2. Never kiss a smiling crocodile.
  3. My father prefers to drink filtered spring water.
  4. This isn't chocolate ice cream; it's frozen chocolate milk!
  5. The fallen leaves covered the new driveway.
  6. She was happy to find the translated version of the book.
  7. The sleeping dog's snoring was louder than a freight train.
  8. We pushed our way through the newly driven snow.
  9. I'd rather eat at a recently inspected restaurant.
  10. Are you just hoping it will happen or is it a done deal?
  11. Maria forgot to bring her new fishing pole.
  12. Sadly, as she aged, he became just another forgotten name.

Notice that the adjective comes after the noun.

It does not work before the noun. In these sentences, the relative clause is omitted and the participle becomes an adjective:

I wrote to the person (who is) concerned.

Sometimes, if the adjective is placed before the noun the meaning is totally different.
I wrote to the concerned person. (= another meaning of 'concerned').

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