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Adjectives - Easy Learning Grammar

Adjectives are used with nouns to make the meaning more specific.If you use the noun ‘bear’ it can mean any animal of that species. As soon as you say ‘a large, brown bear’ you have given two of its attributes (colour and size). A noun is said to be modified by its adjectives.Adjectives have two main features:
  • Most adjectives can go before a noun; this is known as their attributive use.
  • a tall girl
  • green grass
  • four badly behaved little boys
  • Most adjectives can also go after a link verb such as be or seem; this is known as their predicative use.
  • The roses are yellow.
  • The girls are getting tall.
  • These books seem really interesting.
Any word that can go into both of these positions is a normal adjective. When used predicatively (after a link verb), an adjective can either describe the subject of a sentence,
  • The roses are yellow.
  • The girls are getting tall.
  • These books are really interesting.
or the object of the sentence. See also Parts of speech.
  • Anna painted the room green.
  • The children drove him mad.

Adjective order

The order is normally:
  • adjectives that describe feelings or qualities.
  • pleasant childhood memories
  • beautiful brown hands
  • adjectives of size, age, temperature, or measurement.
  • some hot scones
  • a rectangular pie dish
  • those nice young girls
  • a lovely big smile
  • adjectives of colour.
  • the green hills of home
  • smart brown shoes
  • her beautiful blue eyes
  • adjectives of nationality or origin.
  • those friendly Spanish girls
  • both the small grey Irish horses
  • an elegant French woman
  • adjectives denoting the substance or material that something is made from.
  • a large wooden door
  • an elegant silver teapot
It is possible to pile up adjectives in English, but in practice more than four is uncommon.
  • a happy young blonde German girl
  • beautiful old English half-timbered houses
  • Adjectives before a noun are not usually separated by and, unless they are adjectives of colour.
  • a green and white striped shirt
  • a red and blue flag
  • Adjectives can themselves be premodified by adverbs of degree. See also Adjectives.
  • an extremely intelligent student
  • a very tall man
  • a fairly untidy flat
Some adjectives can only be used predicatively (i.e. after a link verb such as be). Many of the members of this group begin with a-:
  • afloat, afraid, alike, alive, alone, ashamed, asleep, awake.
  • Our balloon was aloft at last.
  • Charles is abroad again.
  • The child is afraid.
  • The girls were asleep and were not aware of the noise.
When an adjective is used predicatively it may have to be followed by a particular preposition if the phrase continues.
She was glad.She was glad to help.
He was afraid.He was afraid for his life.
I was free.I was free from guilt.
It is devoid of interest.He was intent on revenge.
There are some adjectives such as devoid (of), intent (on) that always have to have a following phrase.Although attributive adjectives usually come before the noun that they modify, there are some that can go immediately after the noun, particularly when they are used with plural nouns, e.g. absent, present, involved, concerned. When these adjectives are used in this position they may have a different meaning from the one that they have when they come before the noun.
  • Everyone present was given tea.
  • The present government took over four years ago.
  • The people absent from work were all ill.
  • Let us toast absent friends.
  • The dealers concerned were sent to jail.
  • There were letters from concerned parents.
  • There are some set phrases which always have an adjective immediately after the noun.
the Princess Royala lion rampant
the president electthe Attorney General

Premodifiers and postmodifiers

Adjectives, determiners, and other nouns can all be used to describe a noun more specifically; that is, they can be used as modifiers. Nouns can also be modified by prepositional groups (groups of words that begin with a preposition) and relative clauses added after the noun. See Relative clauses for more about relative clauses.To make it simpler to talk about any modifying word which comes in front of a noun, we can use the term premodifier.
a young manthese onions
my aunt’s housethe elephant house
Those modifiers that come after the noun are called postmodifiers.
  • the young man with the guitar
  • the person who met me
  • the girl I was standing near
  • the people involved

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