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17.6: Adjectives and Adverbs

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  • An adjective is a word that describes a noun or a pronoun. It often answers questions such aswhich one,what kind, orhow many?

    1. Thegreensweater belongs to Iris.

    2. She looksbeautiful.

    In sentence 1, the adjectivegreendescribes the nounsweater.

    In sentence 2, the adjectivebeautifuldescribes the pronounshe.

    An adverb is a word that describes a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. Adverbs frequently end inly. They answer questions such ashow,to what extent,why,when, andwhere.

    3. Bertrand singshorribly.

    4. My sociology instructor isextremelywise.

    5. He threw the ballveryaccurately.

    In sentence 3,horriblydescribes the verbsings. How does Bertrand sing? He singshorribly.

    In sentence 4,extremelydescribes the adjectivewise. Howwiseis the instructor?Extremelywise.

    In sentence 5,verydescribes the adverbaccurately. Howaccuratelydid he throw the ball?Veryaccurately.

    Exercise 21

    Complete the following sentences by adding the correct adjective or adverb from the list in the previous section. Identify the word as an adjective or an adverb (Adj, Adv).

    1. Frederick ________ choked on the piece of chicken when he saw Margaret walk through the door.

    2. His ________ eyes looked at everyone and everything as if they were specimens in a biology lab.

    3. Despite her pessimistic views on life, Lauren believes that most people have ________ hearts.

    4. Although Stefan took the criticism ________, he remained calm.

    5. The child developed a ________ imagination because he read a lot of books.

    6. Madeleine spoke ________ while she was visiting her grandmother in the hospital.

    7. Hector’s most ________ possession was his father’s bass guitar from the 1970s.

    8. My definition of a ________ afternoon is walking to the park on a beautiful day, spreading out my blanket, and losing myself in a good book.

    9. She ________ eyed her new coworker and wondered if he was single.

    10. At the party, Denise ________ devoured two pieces of pepperoni pizza and a several slices of ripe watermelon.

    Comparative vs Superlative

    Comparative adjectives and adverbs are used to compare two people or things.

    1. Jorge isthin.

    2. Steven isthinnerthan Jorge.

    Sentence 1 describes Jorge with the adjectivethin.

    Sentence 2 compares Jorge to Steven, stating that Steven isthinner. Sothinneris the comparative form ofthin.

    Form comparatives in one of the following two ways:

    If the adjective or adverb is a one syllable word, adderto it to form the comparative. For example,big,fast, andshortwould becomebigger,faster, andshorterin the comparative form.

    If the adjective or adverb is a word of two or more syllables, place the wordmorein front of it to form the comparative. For example,happily,comfortable, andjealouswould becomemore happily,more comfortable, andmore jealousin the comparative.

    Superlative adjectives and adverbs are used to compare more than two people or two things.

    1. Jackie is theloudestcheerleader on the squad.

    2. Kenyatta was voted themost confidentstudent by her graduating class.

    Sentence 1 shows that Jackie is not justlouderthan one other person, but she is theloudestof all the cheerleaders on the squad.

    Sentence 2 shows that Kenyatta was voted themost confidentstudent of all the students in her class.

    Form superlatives in one of the following two ways:

    If the adjective or adverb is a one-syllable word, addestto form the superlative. For example,big,fast, andshortwould becomebiggest,fastest, andshortestin the superlative form.

    If the adjective or adverb is a word of two or more syllables, place the wordmostin front of it. For example,happily,comfortable, andjealouswould becomemost happily,most comfortable, andmost jealousin the superlative form.


    Remember the following exception: If the word has two syllables and ends in-y, change the-yto an-iand add-est. For example,happywould change tohappiestin the superlative form;healthywould change tohealthiest.

    Exercise 22

    Edit the following paragraph by correcting the errors in comparative and superlative adjectives.

    Our argument started on the most sunny afternoon that I have ever experienced. Max and I were sitting on my front stoop when I started it. I told him that my dog, Jacko, was more smart than his dog, Merlin. I could not help myself. Merlin never came when he was called, and he chased his tail and barked at rocks. I told Max that Merlin was the most dumbest dog on the block. I guess I was angrier about a bad grade that I received, so I decided to pick on poor little Merlin. Even though Max insulted Jacko too, I felt I had been more mean. The next day I apologized to Max and brought Merlin some of Jacko’s treats. When Merlin placed his paw on my knee and licked my hand, I was the most sorry person on the block.


    Share and compare your answers with a classmate.

    Irregular Words: Good, Well, Bad, and Badly

    Good,well,bad, andbadlyare often used incorrectly. Study the following chart to learn the correct usage of these words and their comparative and superlative forms.

    Comparative Superlative
    Adjective good better best
    Adverb well better best
    Adjective bad worse worst
    Adverb badly worse worst

    Table \(\PageIndex{1}\)Irregular words

    Good vs Well

    Goodis always an adjective—that is, a word that describes a noun or a pronoun. The second sentence is correct becausewellis an adverb that tells how something is done.

    Incorrect: Cecilia felt that she had never done sogoodon a test.

    Correct: Cecilia felt that she had never done sowellon a test.

    Wellis always an adverb that describes a verb, adverb, or adjective. The second sentence is correct becausegoodis an adjective that describes the nounscore.

    Incorrect: Cecilia’s team received awellscore.

    Correct: Cecilia’s team received agoodscore.

    Bad vs Badly

    Badis always an adjective. The second sentence is correct becausebadlyis an adverb that tells how the speaker did on the test.

    Incorrect: I didbadon my accounting test because I didn’t study.

    Correct: I didbadlyon my accounting test because I didn’t study.

    Badlyis always an adverb. The second sentence is correct becausebadis an adjective that describes the nounthunderstorm.

    Incorrect: The coming thunderstorm lookedbadly.

    Correct: The coming thunderstorm lookedbad.

    Better and Worse

    The following are examples of the use ofbetterandworse:

    Tyra likes sprintingbetterthan long distance running.

    The traffic isworsein Chicago than in Atlanta.

    Best and Worst

    The following are examples of the use ofbestandworst:

    Tyra sprintsbestof all the other competitors.

    Peter finishedworstof all the runners in the race.


    Rememberbetterandworsecompare two persons or things.Bestandworstcompare three or more persons or things.

    Exercise 23

    Writegood,well,bad, orbadlyto complete each sentence. Copy the completed sentence onto your own sheet of paper.

    1. Donna always felt ________ if she did not see the sun in the morning.

    2. The school board president gave a ________ speech for once.

    3. Although my dog, Comet, is mischievous, he always behaves ________ at the dog park.

    4. I thought my back injury was ________ at first, but it turned out to be minor.

    5. Steve was shaking ________ from the extreme cold.

    6. Apple crisp is a very ________ dessert that can be made using whole grains instead of white flour.

    7. The meeting with my son’s math teacher went very ________.

    8. Juan has a ________ appetite, especially when it comes to dessert.

    9. Magritte thought the guests had a ________ time at the party because most people left early.

    10. She ________ wanted to win the writing contest prize, which included a trip to New York.

    Exercise 24

    Write the correct comparative or superlative form of the word in parentheses. Copy the completed sentence onto your own sheet of paper.

    1. This research paper is ________ (good) than my last one.

    2. Tanaya likes country music ________ (well) of all.

    3. My motorcycle rides ________ (bad) than it did last summer.

    4. That is the ________ (bad) joke my father ever told.

    5. The hockey team played ________ (badly) than it did last season.

    6. Tracey plays guitar ________ (well) than she plays the piano.

    7. It will go down as one of the ________ (bad) movies I have ever seen.

    8. The deforestation in the Amazon is ________ (bad) than it was last year.

    9. Movie ticket sales are ________ (good) this year than last.

    10. My husband says mystery novels are the ________ (good) types of books.

    Writing at Work

    The irregular wordsgood,well,bad, andbadlyare often misused along with their comparative and superlative formsbetter,best,worse, andworst. You may not hear the difference betweenworseandworst, and therefore type it incorrectly. In a formal or business-like tone, use each of these words to write eight separate sentences. Assume these sentences will be seen and judged by your current or future employer.

    Key Takeaways

    Adjectives describe a noun or a pronoun.

    Adverbs describe a verb, adjective, or another adverb.

    Most adverbs are formed by addinglyto an adjective.

    Comparative adjectives and adverbs compare two persons or things.

    Superlative adjectives or adverbs compare more than two persons or things.

    The adjectivesgoodandbadand the adverbswellandbadlyare unique in their comparative and superlative forms and require special attention.

    Writing Application

    Using the exercises as a guide, write your own ten-sentence quiz for your classmate(s) using the concepts covered in this section. Try to include two questions from each subsection in your quiz. Exchange papers and see whether you can get a perfect score.

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