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Tenses for Beginners: A Study of The Basics

Definition of Adjective: 12 Types of Adjectives: Examples

Adjectives are words that modify the nouns or pronouns.

Adjectives denote the quality, quantity, number, state etc of the nouns or pronouns they qualify and add something to their meaning. They add beauty and sweetness to the language. Words like white, black, sweet, bitter, big, small, happy, sad, one, two, first, second, some, any etc are some of the examples of adjectives. Adjectives can be classified into the following 12 types:

1. Proper Adjectives: Proper adjectives are derived from proper nouns. Proper adjectives are always capitalized. Examples of proper adjectives include British, American, Indian, Islamic, Vedic, Latin, Greek etc. Most English adjectives are common adjectives and need no capitalisation.

2. Qualitative Adjectives or Adjectives of Quality:

Qualitative adjectives or adjectives of quality describe the quality or state of persons, places, things etc. Tall, big, honest, poor, rich, happy, sad, good, bad, old, young, angry etc are the words that describe the quality or state of nouns. So they are adjectives of quality. Most adjectives of quality can be divided into three sub types:

a. Positive Adjectives or Adjectives of Positive Degree:

When qualitative adjectives simply describe someone or something without making any comparison, they are called positive adjectives or adjectives of positive degree. 

Example: Good, tall, small, happy, sad, honest, long, beautiful etc.

b. Comparative Adjectives or Adjectives of Comparative Degree:

When the qualitative adjectives not only describe but make comparison between two persons, two things or two groups, they are called comparative adjectives or adjectives of comparative degree. Qualitative Adjectives of one syllable form their comparative forms by adding er and those of more than one syllable form their comparative forms by adding less and more. Example:

This book is better than that.

He is taller than I.

Their house is smaller than that of ours.

He is more honest than his friends. etc. 

Better, taller, smaller, more honest etc are the comparative forms of good, tall, small and honest respectively.

c. Superlative Adjectives or Adjectives of Superlative Degree:

When more than two persons or things are compared, superlative adjectives are used. Qualitative adjectives of one syllable form their superlative forms by adding est. Qualitative adjectives of more than one syllable form their superlative forms by adding least and most.

Example:

He is the tallest boy in the class.

He was the greatest of all the teachers.

The Brahmaputra is the biggest river in India.

She is the most beautiful girl in the city.

You don't have even the least knowledge of English.

3. Quantitative Adjectives or Adjectives of Quantity and Numeral Adjectives or Adjectives of Number:

Adjectives of quantity or number denote the quantity or number of nouns. They answer how many or how much about nouns. Adjectives like some, any, great etc may denote either quantity or number depending on the nouns they qualify. If the nouns are countable, some, any and great denote the number. If the nouns are uncountable, they denote the quantity. Little and much are adjectives of quantity. They never indicate the number. Some, any, great, much, little etc are also called indefinite adjectives because they don't show the fixed amount or number of anything. Some adjectives of number are called definite numeral adjectives because they show the fixed number like one, two, three, first, second, third etc. Definite numerals are again divided into cardinal and ordinal adjectives. One, two, three etc are examples of cardinals. They show the fixed number. First, second, third etc are called ordinals. They show the order of persons or things.

Examples of Quantitative and Numeral Adjectives:

There is little milk in the pot.

I don't have any money today.

Give me some water.

He took great pains to do the work.

Few people were present there.

I have bought many books.

Give me only one glass of water.

Bring two bottles of water.

He is the first boy of the class.

This is the second time he met me.

4. Possessive Adjectives:

Possessive Adjectives are derived from personal pronouns. My, your, her, their, etc are called possessive adjectives for they modify the nouns they precede. These adjectives indicate the relationship, possession or ownership of someone or something.

Example:

This is my book.

It is their house.

What is your name?

She came with her mother etc.

5. Article Adjectives:

The indefinite articles 'a' and 'an' and the definite article 'the' are also a type of adjectives as they modify the nouns they precede.

6.Distributive Adjectives:

Distributive adjectives refer to all the members of a group as individuals. That is, they take into consideration the whole group but talk of only one member of the group. Each, every, either and neither are distributive adjectives.

Example:

Each boy was given a prize.

Every child wants love and attention from the parents.

Either book will do.

I'll join neither party. 

7. Demonstrative Adjectives:

Demonstrative adjectives point out the persons, places or things they modify. There are four demonstrative adjectives: this, that, these and those. They denote the nearness or remoteness of persons or things.

Examples:

This book is very useful to children.

Those mangoes are not sweet. 

8. Interrogative Adjectives:

Interrogative adjectives are used to ask questions. There are three interrogative adjectives: what, which and whose. Other interrogative words don't modify nouns. So they are pronouns.

Examples:

What book do you want?

Which shop are you talking about?

Whose pen is this?

9. Emphasising Adjectives: Very and own are emphasising adjectives. Own emphasizes the nouns which are already emphasized, that is, modified by possessive adjectives. Very emphasizes nouns which may or may not be emphasized, that is, modified by other nouns.

Examples:

I saw it with my own eyes.

I have written the letter with my own hand. This is the very book I want.

I live in this very house.

10. Coordinate and Non Coordinate Adjectives:

When two or more adjectives qualifying a noun can be separated by commas or and, they are called coordinate adjectives. When two or more adjectives qualifying a noun cannot be separated by commas or and, they are called non coordinate adjectives. The main difference between coordinate and non coordinate adjectives is that the order of coordinate adjectives can be changed without losing the intended meaning of the sentence but that of non coordinate adjectives cannot be changed without losing the meaning. Moreover commas and the word 'and' can be used in coordinate adjectives. Let us look at some examples of coordinate adjectives:

She is a talented, beautiful girl.

He is a happy, rich man.

The adjectives can also be arranged as

She is a beautiful, talented girl.

He is a rich, happy man.

The word 'and' can also be used as

She is a talented and beautiful girl.

He is a happy and rich man.

Still they make sense. Now look at the following examples:

He has taken my two books.

I have bought two black shirts.

We can not change the order of adjectives or put commas or and between them. The intended meaning of the adjectives will be lost.

11. Compound Adjectives:

When two or more words combine to function as single adjectives, they are called compound adjectives.

Example:

Dr Bhupen Hazarika is a well known musician.

He is a part-time worker.

He is a Kind-hearted man.

This is a gluten free diet.

Tagore is a world-famous personality.

She is very open minded.

The compound words well known, part time, Kind-hearted, gluten free, world famous and open minded are used as adjectives here.

12. Attributive and Predicative Adjectives: 

Adjectives placed before the nouns they qualify are called attributive adjectives. 

Example:

Good boy, big house, red pen etc.

Adjectives placed after the verbs are called predicative adjectives.

Example:

He is angry.

She is beautiful.

We are happy etc.

Some adjectives can be used only predicatively.

Example:

I am afraid.

She is alone etc.

Afraid, alone etc are never placed before the nouns.

It has to be remembered that some adjectives can belong to more than one category. For example, some and any belong to both quantitative and numeral adjectives. Adjectives like red, blue, small, big may sometimes function as qualitative and sometimes as coordinate adjectives. Moreover, some adjectives like some, any, each, every, this, that etc sometimes function as pronouns also.

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