Adjectives in English

Adjectives in EnglishWhich adjectives don’t grade and compare. Their sentence functions.

Adjective is a speech part determining nouns. They answer the question What kind? There’re common/descriptive and proper/personality adjectives. Multi-root adjectives are compound. Adjectives make description more specific.

Mexican food

faraway land

Take a larger slice of the luscious cake.

Qualitative Adjectives

Semantically adjectives may be qualitative or relative. Qualitative adjectives describe objects directly by denoting their shape, size, color or other general characteristics.

pretty, low, complete, round, good

Some qualitative adjectives are intensifiers. They emphasize object meanings, determined only by absolutely/really:

certain, sure, pure, sheer, real, undoubted, complete, extreme, great, perfect, mere, close, utter, entire, wonderful, terrible, astonished, delicious, amazing, hilarious

Relative adjectives

Relative adjectives describe objects indirectly, through their relations to other objects.

woolen, wooden, silver

They’re non-gradable – can’t be determined by very, too, enough. Intensifiers are non-gradable too.

weekly, unconscious, dead, legal, medical, empty, full

Attribute Adjectives

Syntactically adjectives may be attributive and predicative. Attributive adjectives come before nouns.

intelligent young woman

Some adjectives are historically attributive:

chief, main, only, particular, principal, sole

Predicative Adjectives

Predicate adjectives are separated from nouns and come after verbs, especially link verbs (be, get, seem, appear, keep, look, feel, make, smell, sound, taste, become, grow, remain, stay, turn).

Chicken made this way tastes more delicious.

Some adjectives are historically predicative:

ill, poorly, fine, asleep, awake, afraid, alive, alone, content, glad, pleased, sorry, upset, near, far (away)

The adjectives old, heavy, late may mean differently as attributive or predicative.

Kelly’s quite old now.

She’s a really old friend.


Qualitative adjectives may have 3 comparison degrees as positive adjectives, comparative adjectives and superlative adjectives.

Adjective Formation

Many adjectives have affixes.

Frequent adjective suffixes:

-able/ible (able to be): comfortable

-ful (full of): beautiful

-less (without): careless

-ive (tending to): attractive

Negative prefixes:

dis-: dishonest

un-: uninteresting

il-: illegal

im-: impolite

in-: inconvenient

ir-: irrelevant