English Grammar: Adjectives

An Adjective as a word used with a noun to add something for its meaning. To describe any person, place or thing, adjectives are used.

Examples

  • You are wearing a lovely silk saree.
  • This is a fast Japanese car.
  • Have you seen my new white shirt?
  • I want to buy two brown wooden armchairs.

Kinds of Adjectives

1. Adjectives of Quality

Adjectives of Quality (Descriptive Adjective) show the kind or quality of a person or thing. Adjectives of Quality answer the question: Of what kind?

2. Adjectives of Quantity

Adjectives of Quantity show how much of a thing is meant. Adjectives of Quantity answer the question: How much?  Words like some, little, few, many, half, enough are some examples of adjectives of quantity.

3. Adjectives of Number

Adjectives of Number (Numeral Adjectives) show how many persons or things are meant, or in what order a person or thing stands. Adjectives of Number are of three kinds:

  1. Definite Numeral Adjectives, which denote an exact number. A Cardinal denotes how many, and an Ordinal the order of things in a series.
    • One, two, three, etc. - These are called Cardinals. 
    • First, second, third, etc. - These are called Ordinals.
  2. Indefinite Numeral Adjectives, which do not denote an exact number. For example, all, no; many, few; some, any; certain, several, sundry. 
  3. Distributive Numeral Adjectives, which refer to each one of a number. For example,
    • Each boy must take his turn. 
    • India expects every man to do his duty. 
    • Every word of it is false. 

4. Demonstrative Adjectives

Demonstrative Adjectives point out which person or thing is meant. Demonstrative Adjectives answer the question: Which? for example,

  • This boy is stronger than Hari.
  • That boy is industrious.
  • These mangoes are sour.
  • Those rascals must be punished.

This and that are used with Singular nouns and these and those with Plural nouns.

5. Interrogative Adjectives

What, which and whose, when they are used with nouns to ask questions, are called Interrogative Adjectives.

Position of Adjectives

An Adjective used attributively is generally placed immediately before the noun. If there are more than two adjectives, a comma is usually used between them.

Correct Use of Some Adjectives

Some, Any

To express quantity or degree, some is used normally in affirmative sentences, any in negative or interrogative sentences. For example,

  • I will buy some mangoes. 
  • I will not buy any mangoes. 
  • Have you bought any mangoes?

Each, Every

Each and every are similar in meaning, but every is a stronger word than each. It means, 'each without exception'. Each is used in speaking of two or more things. Every is used only in speaking of more than two.

Each directs attention to the individuals forming any group. Every to the total group. Each is used only when the number in the group is limited and definite. Every when the number is indefinite.

For example,

  • Every seat was taken.
  • Five boys were seated on each bench.
  • Every one of these chairs is broken.
  • Leap year falls in every fourth year. 
  • It rained every day during my holidays. 

Little, A little, The little

Little: not much (hardly any). Thus, the adjective little has a negative meaning. For example,

  • There is little hope of his recovery, i.e., he is not likely to recover.

A little: some though not much. 'A little' has a positive meaning. For example,

  • There is a little hope of his recovery, i.e., he may possibly recover.

The little: not much, but all there is. For example,

  • The little information he had was not quite reliable.
  • The little knowledge of carpentry that he possessed stood him in good stead.