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2.14: Descriptive Adjectives

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    Introduction to Adjectives

    What is an adjective? Discuss with your classmates. Can you give an example or definition?

    An adjective modifies a noun. In other words, it gives more information about the noun, such as what kind, how many, or which one. Look at the phrases below and identify the adjective and noun...

    • Rolling hills
    • Majestic mountains
    • Sparkling lakes


    • The adjective is "rolling" and the noun is "hills"
    • The adjective is "majestic" and the noun is "mountains"
    • The adjective is "sparkling" and the noun is "lakes"

    Descriptive Adjectives

    Descriptive adjectives can appear in two places in the sentence. Find the descriptive adjectives in these sentences...

    • San Diego has sandy beaches
    • The beaches in San Diego are sandy


    • The descriptive adjective (sandy) comes before the noun (beaches)
    • The descriptive adjective (sandy) comes after the linking verb (are)

    Descriptive adjectives can come before the noun, or after a linking verb such as "be," "seem," or "sound"

    With a partner, write two sentences about your city. In the first, use an adjective before a noun. In the second, use an adjective after a linking verb

    Examples of Adjectives

    There are many adjectives in English. Adjectives make your writing more interesting, vivid, and rich. Add adjectives to your vocabulary by using them as you learn them. You can also sometimes recognize adjectives by their endings. Can you add words to these lists?

    • -able/-ible--incredible, doable, readable
    • -ful--helpful, restful, doubtful
    • -less--restless, helpless, doubtless
    • -ic--alcoholic, realistic
    • -ive--creative, active
    • -al--natural, practical
    • -ous--suspicious, decorous
    • -ish--childish, impish

    Past Participle and Present Participle Adjectives

    Adjectives can also be created from verbs. Some past participles and present participles can be used as adjectives. Can you add any examples of this list?

    Verb Past participle adjective Present participle adjective
    Interest Interested Interesting
    Tire Tired Tiring
    Amaze Amazed Amazing
    Fascinate Fascinated Fascinating
    Bore Bored Boring

    Past participle adjectives such as "bored," "amazed," and "interested" show that someone experiences that situation

    • EX: She felt excited (She experienced excitement)

    Present participle adjectives such as "boring," "amazing," and "interesting" show that the noun causes that verb

    • EX: The movie was amazing (The movie caused amazement)

    Test Yourself

    Can you fill in the blanks?

    • Verb: Frighten
      • The picture is _________________. I feel ________________ when I look at this picture
    • Verb: Interest
      • I am _______________ in the history of Irag. Iraq has an ________________ history
    • Verb: Confuse
      • The homework is __________________. All of the students felt _______________ by the homework
    • Verb: Excite
      • Disneyland is _________________. My kids are so ______________ about going to Disneyland


    • Frightening, frightened
    • Interested, interesting
    • Confusing, confused
    • Exciting, excited

    Adjective Order

    Adjectives usually follow a specific order in English. The order of adjectives is below

    • Determiner: A/an/the, this/that/these/those, my/your/his/her/our/their, many/both/some... etc.
    • Opinion: Beautiful, ugly, hard-working, useful... etc.
    • Size: Large, small, tiny, huge... etc.
    • Age: Old, vintage, new, brand-new... etc.
    • Shape: Round, long, thin, square... etc.
    • Color: Blue, yellow, gray... etc.
    • Origin: Italian, Mexican, Chinese... etc.
    • Material: Woolen, cotton, wooden... etc.
    • Purpose: Wedding, sleeping, swimming... etc.

    It's unusual to use more than two or three adjectives before a noun


    Try describing a dress, a car, and a mountain. Use at least two adjectives in the correct order. You can use adjectives from the word bank below, or write your own

    Word Bank

    • Blue
    • Huge
    • Beautiful
    • Vintage
    • Italian
    • Gray
    • New
    • Small
    • Square
    • Ugly
    • Hard-working
    • Brand-new
    • Yellow
    • Useful
    • Fast
    • Tiny
    • Long
    • Mexican
    • Large
    • Wedding
    • Majestic
    • Lace
    • Chinese
    • Old

    Fill in the Blanks

    • A ________________ _________________ dress
    • A ________________ _________________ car
    • A ________________ _________________ mountain

    Comparative Adjectives

    Compare two nouns using a comparative adjective. Which two nouns are compared in these sentences? What is the comparative adjective?

    • San Diego, CA is larger than El Cajon, CA
    • Black Mountain is higher than Mount Helix


    • The two nouns that are compared in the first sentence are "San Diego, CA" and "El Cajon, CA," the comparative adjective is "larger"
    • The two nouns that are compared in the first sentence are "Black Mountain" and "Mount Helix," the comparative adjective is "higher"

    Did you notice? What word follow the comparative adjective?


    The comparative adjective is followed by "than"

    How Do We Make Comparative Adjectives?

    One-syllable adjectives Two-syllable adjectives ending with -y Two-or-more-syllable adjectives Irregular adjectives
    Larger Easier More diverse Good--better
    Richer Happier More difficult Far--further/farther
    Deeper Hungrier More majestic Little--less
    Higher Curlier More populated Many--more
    Smaller Bad--worse

    Rules for Comparative Adjectives

    • If the word is one syllable, add -er to the end of the word
    • If the word ends with -e, add -r
    • If the word is one syllable and ends with CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant), double the final consonant
    • If the word is two syllables, use "more" + adjective
    • If the word if two syllables and ends with -y, drop the -y and add -ier
    • Comparative adjectives are followed by "than"


    Compare the two nouns using a comparative adjective. Write sentences...

    • San Diego and Los Angeles
    • Santee Lakes and Lake Murray
    • Grossmont College and your previous school
    • Your home here and your previous home
    • Your favorite restaurant and McDonald's

    Other Resources

    Try this website for a clear explanation of adjectives...

    2.14: Descriptive Adjectives is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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