Adjectives

An adjective is a word that is used to describe someone or something or give information about them.
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form
The form of an adjective does not change: the same form is used for singular and plural, for subject and object, and for male and female.

We were looking for a good place to camp.

Good places to fish were hard to find.

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qualitative adjectives
Qualitative adjectives are adjectives that indicate that someone or something has a particular quality. For example, `sad', `pretty', `happy', and `wise' are qualitative adjectives.

...a sad story.

...a small child.

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Qualitative adjectives are gradable. This means that the person or thing referred to can have more or less of the quality mentioned. The usual way of indicating the amount of a quality that something or someone has is by using submodifiers such as `very' and `rather'. See entry at ↑ Adverbs.

...an extremely narrow road.

...a very pretty girl.

...a rather clumsy person.

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classifying adjectives
Classifying adjectives are adjectives that are used to indicate that something is of a particular type. For example, if you say `financial help', you are using the adjective `financial' to classify the noun `help'. There are many different kinds of help: `financial help' is one of them.

...my daily shower.

...Victorian houses.

...civil engineering.

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colour adjectives
Colour adjectives are used to indicate what colour something is.

...a small blue car.

Her eyes are green.

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To specify a colour more precisely, a word such as `light', `pale', `dark', or `bright' is put in front of the adjective.

...light brown hair.

...a bright green suit.

...a dark blue dress.

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Colour words can be used as uncount nouns, and the main colour words can be used as count nouns.

The snow shadows had turned a deep blue.

They blended in so well with the khaki and reds of the landscape.

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emphasizing adjectives
Emphasizing adjectives are used in front of a noun to emphasize your description of something or the degree of something.

He made me feel like a complete idiot.

Some of it was absolute rubbish.

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The following adjectives are emphasizing adjectives:
absolute, complete, entire, outright, perfect, positive, pure, real, sheer, total, true, utter
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specifying adjectives
There is a small group of adjectives, sometimes called postdeterminers, which you use to indicate precisely what you are referring to. These adjectives come after a determiner and in front of any other adjectives.

...the following brief description.

He wore his usual old white coat.

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They also come in front of numbers.

What has gone wrong during the last ten years?

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The following adjectives are used in this way:
additional, certain, chief, entire, existing, first, following, further, last, main, next, only, opposite, other, particular, past, present, previous, principal, remaining, same, specific, usual, whole
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adjectives with special endings
A large number of adjectives end in `-ed' or `-ing'. See entries at ↑ '-ed' adjectives and ↑ '-ing' adjectives.
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For information on adjectives ending in `-ic' and `-ical', see entry at ↑ '-ic' and '-ical' words.
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For information on adjectives ending in `-ly', see entry at ↑ '-ly' words.
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compound adjectives
Compound adjectives are made up of two or more words, usually written with hyphens between them. They may be qualitative, classifying, or colour adjectives.

I was in a light-hearted mood.

Olivia was driving a long, low-slung, bottle-green car.

...a good-looking girl.

...a part-time job.

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Comparative adjectives are used to say that something has more of a quality than something else. Superlative adjectives are used to say that something has more of a quality than anything else of its kind. Only qualitative adjectives and a few colour adjectives have superlatives. See entry at ↑ Comparative and superlative adjectives.
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position of adjectives
Most adjectives can be used in front of nouns to give more information about something that is mentioned.

She bought a loaf of white bread.

There was no clear evidence.

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Adjectives cannot usually be used after a determiner without being followed by either a noun or `one'. You cannot say, for example, `He showed me all of them, but I preferred the green'. You have to say `He showed me all of them, but I preferred the green one'. See entry at ↑ one.
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For information on the use of `the' with an adjective to refer to a group of people, as in `the rich', see entry at ↑ the.
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Most adjectives can also be used after a link verb such as `be', `become', or `feel'.

The room was large and square.

I felt angry.

Nobody seemed amused.

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Some adjectives are normally used only after link verbs, not in front of nouns, when used with a particular meaning. For example, you can say `She was alone' but you cannot say `an alone girl'.
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The following adjectives are only used after link verbs:
afraid, alive, alone, asleep, aware, content, glad, ill, ready, sorry, sure, well
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Instead of using these adjectives in front of a noun, you can sometimes use an alternative word or expression. For example, instead of `the afraid child' you can say `the frightened child'.
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See also separate entries at these words.
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coordination of adjectives
When two adjectives are used as the complement of a link verb, a conjunction (usually `and') is used to link them. With three or more adjectives, the last two are linked with a conjunction, and commas are put after the others.

The day was hot and dusty.

The house was old, damp and smelly.

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When more than one adjective is used in front of a noun, the adjectives are not usually separated by `and'. You do not normally say `a short, fat and old man'. For more information on how to link adjectives, see entry at ↑ and.
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order of adjectives
When more than one adjective is used in front of a noun, the usual order is as follows:
qualitative adjective — colour adjective — classifying adjective

...a little white wooden house.

...rapid technological advance.

...a large circular pool of water.

...a necklace of blue Venetian beads.

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However, non-gradable adjectives indicating shape, such as `circular' and `rectangular', often come in front of colour adjectives, even though they are classifying adjectives.

...the rectangular grey stones.

...the circular yellow patch on the lawn.

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order of qualitative adjectives
The order of qualitative adjectives is normally as follows:
opinions — size — quality — age — shape

We shall have a nice big garden with two apple trees.

It had beautiful thick fur.

...big, shiny beetles.

He had long curly red hair.

She put on her dirty old fur coat.

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Note that when you refer to `a nice big garden' or `a lovely big garden', you usually mean that the garden is nice because it is big, not nice in some other way. For more information, see entry at ↑ nice.
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order of classifying adjectives
If there is more than one classifying adjective in front of a noun, the normal order is:
age — shape — nationality — material

...a medieval French village.

...a rectangular plastic box.

...an Italian silk jacket.

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Other types of classifying adjective usually come after a nationality adjective.

...the Chinese artistic tradition.

...the American political system.

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comparatives and superlatives
Comparatives and superlatives normally come in front of all other adjectives in a noun group.

Some of the better English actors have gone to live in Hollywood.

These are the highest monthly figures on record.

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When a noun group contains both an adjective and a noun modifier (a noun used in front of another noun), the adjective is placed in front of the noun modifier.

He works in the French film industry.

He receives a large weekly cash payment.

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adjectives after a noun
You do not usually put adjectives after nouns. However, there are some exceptions, which are explained below.
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You can put an adjective after a noun if the adjective is followed by a prepositional phrase or a `to'-infinitive clause.

...a warning to people eager for a quick cure.

...the sort of weapons likely to be deployed against it.

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The adjectives `alive' and `awake' can be put after a noun which is preceded by a superlative, an adverb, or `first', `last', `only', `every', or `any'.

Is Phil Morgan the only man alive who knows all the words to that song?

She sat at the window, until she was the last person awake.

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A few formal adjectives are only used after a noun:
designate, elect, incarnate, manqué

...British Rail's chairman designate, Mr Robert Reid.

She was now the president elect.

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adjectives before or after a noun
A few adjectives can be used in front of or after a noun without any change of meaning:
affected, available, required, suggested

Newspapers were the only available source of information.

...the number of teachers available.

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A few adjectives can be used in front of or after a noun which is preceded by a superlative or `first', `last', `only', `every', or `any':
free, imaginable, necessary, open, possible, vacant, visible

...the best possible environment.

I said you'd assist him in every way possible.

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A few adjectives have a different meaning depending on whether they come in front of a noun or after it. For example, `the concerned mother' describes a mother who is worried, but `the mother concerned' simply refers to a mother who has been mentioned.

...the approval of interested and concerned parents.

The idea needs to come from the individuals concerned.

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The following adjectives have different meanings in different positions:
concerned, involved, present, proper, responsible
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For more information, see separate entries at these words.
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adjectives after measurements
Some adjectives that describe size can come after a noun group consisting of a number or determiner and a noun that indicates the unit of measurement.

He was about six feet tall.

The island is only 29 miles long.

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The following adjectives can be used like this:
deep, high, long, tall, thick, wide
See entry at ↑ Measurements.
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`Old' is used after noun groups in a similar way. See entry at ↑ Age.
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adjectives with prepositions and other structures
Some adjectives are usually followed by a particular preposition, a `to'-infinitive, or a `that'-clause, because otherwise their meaning would be unclear or incomplete. For example, you cannot simply say that someone is `accustomed'. You have to say that they are `accustomed to' something.

He seemed to be becoming accustomed to my presence.

They are very fond of each other.

The sky is filled with clouds.

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The following lists show adjectives which must be followed by a preposition when used immediately after a link verb.
accustomed to, allergic to, attributable to, attuned to, averse to, conducive to, devoted to, impervious to, injurious to, integral to, prone to, proportional to, proportionate to, reconciled to, resigned to, resistant to, subject to, subservient to, susceptible to, unaccustomed to
aware of, bereft of, capable of, characteristic of, desirous of, devoid of, fond of, heedless of, illustrative of, incapable of, indicative of, mindful of, reminiscent of, representative of,
unhampered by, descended from, inherent in, lacking in, rooted in, steeped in, swathed in, contingent on, conversant with, filled with, fraught with, riddled with, tinged with
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In some cases, there is a choice between two prepositions.

We are in no way immune from this danger.

He was curiously immune to teasing.

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The following adjectives are usually or always used immediately after a link verb and can be followed by the prepositions indicated:
burdened by/with, dependent on/upon, immune from/to, inclined to/towards, incumbent on/upon, intent on/upon, parallel to/with, reliant on/upon, stricken by/with
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Many adjectives can be followed by a preposition. If you are not sure which preposition to use after a particular adjective, look at the entry for the adjective in this book.
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For lists of adjectives followed by a `to'-infinitive clause or a `that'-clause, see entries at ↑ 'To'-infinitive clauses and ↑ 'That'-clauses.
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Useful english dictionary. 2012.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • '-ing' adjectives — ◊ GRAMMAR A large number of adjectives end in ing . ◊ related to transitive verbs Many ing adjectives have the same form as the present participle of a transitive verb, and are similar in meaning. For example, an astonishing fact is a fact that… …   Useful english dictionary

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  • Anarchism without adjectives — (from the Spanish anarquismo sin adjetivos ), in the words of historian George Richard Esenwein, referred to an unhyphenated form of anarchism, that is, a doctrine without any qualifying labels such as communist, collectivist, mutualist, or… …   Wikipedia

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