What is an Adjective? | Definition and Examples

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What Is an Adjective?

An adjective is a word that describes a noun or pronoun.


This is a beautiful house. (The word "beautiful" is an adjective describing the noun "house".)

He is smart and brilliant. (The words "smart" and "brilliant" are adjectives describing the pronoun "he".)

Click on the Circles to Spot the Six Adjectives


Types of Adjectives

  • Coordinate Adjectives

    Coordinate adjectives are two or more adjectives modifying a noun, independently of one another.


    It's a bright and wonderful morning.

    The children were treated to a rich and delicious lunch meal.

  • Cumulative Adjectives

    Cumulative adjectives are two or more adjectives standing as a unit to modify a noun. They are not independent of one another.


    I saw six small birds.

    It was a fun English story.

  • Predicative Adjectives

    A predicative adjective is an adjective that appears after a linking verb. A predicate adjective is called so, because it is part of the predicate in a sentence.


    Catherine sounded excited.

    Emily proved efficient at work.

    The test was easy.

  • Descriptive Adjectives

    The most common type of adjectives, a descriptive adjective is used to attribute a quality to the noun or pronoun. The quality described may be appearance, smell, taste, and so on.


    Belinda drew a beautiful picture.

    Mr. Lopez prepared an exciting math lesson.

    This is a welcome news.

  • Demonstrative Adjectives

    A demonstrative adjective demonstrates which noun we are talking about. Demonstrative adjectives are this, that, and these.


    I bought these toys.

    Is that book yours?

    This store has a great variety of clothes.

  • Possessive Adjectives

    A possessive adjective denotes possession or ownership. Common possessive adjectives are his, her, your, my, our, and their.


    Is this your school?

    My dad is a banker.

    Their home is being renovated.

  • Interrogative Adjectives

    An interrogative adjective asks a question regarding the noun it modifies. Common interrogative adjectives are what and which.


    What book are you currently reading?

    Which book are you currently reading?

    What time was it when you finished the test?

  • Distributive Adjectives

    A distributive adjective refers to each object in a group of things.


    Every member of this family is working.

    Each cake was delicious.

    Either candidate is fit for the job.

    Both friends agreed to the idea.

  • Proper Adjectives

    Adjectives formed from proper nouns are called proper adjectives.


    Kevin loves Chinese food.

    Do you work for American Airlines?

    Cheetahs are African animals.

Degrees of Comparison in Adjectives

  • Positive Degree

    A positive adjective is a simple adjective involving no comparison.


    It was a rainy day.

    This sentence only means that the day was rainy, and there is no comparison whatsoever.

  • Comparative Degree

    A comparative adjective is used to compare the specific traits of the two nouns it works with. Most of the time, comparative adjectives are accompanied by the word "than".


    English is easier than math.

    This sentence indicates English is the easier subject of the two.

  • Superlative Degree

    A superlative adjective compares one noun to three or more nouns of the same category, and it indicates this noun has the highest or lowest limits of the quality being compared.


    Dan is the smartest boy in the class.

    This sentence indicates Dan has the highest level of smartness of all children in the class.

Placement of Adjectives

  • Most of the time, adjectives are placed before the nouns they modify.


    He wrote a short story.

    Mom works for a foreign company.

  • However, it's not a must that adjectives are placed before the nouns they modify, at all times. They can sometimes be placed after the nouns they modify too.


    Tom's dog is spritely.

    Our school's infrastructure is state-of-the-art.

Multiple Adjectives in a Sentence

It's very usual for a sentence to have more than one adjective. This can be two, three, or even more. When there are multiple adjectives in a sentence, they are either coordinate or cumulative adjectives.


This is an adj-1expensive and adj-2delicious food.

Ours is a adj-1classic, adj-2three-year-old adj-3large house.

Adjective vs Adverbs

This is how we simply differentiate between adjectives and adverbs: an adjective describes a noun, while an adverb describes a verb.

Take a look at this chart.

Dad is wise.
He speaks wisely.
Kids were enthusiastic.
They clapped enthusiastically.
The breeze was gentle.
It blew gently.

How Adjectives can Change Articles

When a noun begins with a consonant sound, we use the article "a", and when it begins with a vowel sound, we use the article "an". However, when an adjective is used before the noun, the choice of the article depends on how the adjective begins, and not the noun.


That is an egg.

That is a rotten egg.

That is an immature egg.

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