Adjectives are words that are used to modify nouns. They offer more information about the noun after them.

"Adjectives" in the English Grammar

What Are Adjectives?

'Adjectives' are words that are used to describe a noun or pronoun and provide more information about it. Adjectives answer questions such as 'What kind?' 'Which one?' and 'Whose is it?'

Look at these two sentences to understand better:

My kids are playing with the puppy.

My happy kids are playing with the cute puppy.

However, adjectives do more than describe nouns. They can also act as a subject complement to linking verbs.

She was breathtaking in that gorgeous dress.

This is the happiest dog in the world. → adjective

The man was really happy, because she said "yes" to his proposal. → adjective

Different Types of Adjectives

We can categorize adjectives based on different categories:

Based on Placement

Based on their position in a sentence, i.e. where they appear in a sentence, they can be categorized into two main groups:

Based on Capitalization

Based on whether their first letter is capitalized or not, adjectives can have two groups:

Based on Gradeability

Based on gradeability, adjectives can be categorized into two main groups:

Based on Comparability

Based on comparability, adjectives can be categorized into two main groups:

Based on Formation

Based on how they are formed, we can categorize adjectives into two types:

using the superlative form of the adjective 'happy'

Based on Degree

Some adjectives are comparable and this comparison is called degree. For example, a person may be 'nice,' but another person may be 'nicer,' and a third person may be the 'nicest' of the three. Based on this comparison, adjectives can be:

Based on Restrictiveness

Whether the attributive adjectives are necessary to the whole meaning of the sentence or not, they can be categorized into two groups:

Adjective Placement

Adjectives can come before a corresponding noun or they can come after a corresponding noun. Basically, in English, placement of adjectives can be classified into one of three categories:

  1. Prepositive adjectives (also called attributive adjectives): appear before the noun
  2. Postpositive adjectives: appear immediately after a noun or after a linking verb
  3. Nominalized adjectives: function as nouns and appear alone

Nominal Adjectives

'Nominal (also called substantive)' adjectives almost act as a noun. It means that they were supposed to be followed by a noun, but somehow the noun after them is omitted. Yet, you can easily understand what the adjective is referring to. Check out the examples:

It has been set up to help the homeless.

The charity dedicated $100 to the poor.

In this example, by 'poor' we mean the 'poor people.'

Determiners vs. Adjectives

One of the differences between 'determiners' and 'adjectives' is that determiners are only used before nouns, while adjectives can also be used after verbs. Another difference between them is in the number of them before a noun.

I am supposed to submit an essay by 10:00 pm.

We can have an unlimited set of adjectives before nouns while using only one determiner is permitted before nouns. It is important to know that we cannot omit a determiner before a noun, but omitting adjectives makes no harm.

She had a small beautiful dog.

Here is a table that can help you understand the differences between determiners and adjectives.

determiner + determiner adjective + adjective
determiner + adjective adjective + determiner
determiner + noun adjective + noun
noun + determiner noun + adjective
verb + determiner verb + adjective
can omit determiner can omit adjective

What Is an Adjective Phrase?

An adjective phrase is a group of words that functions as an adjective and modifies a noun or pronoun in a sentence.

The smell of the hot delicious cake makes me hungry.

A very big game is on Sunday.

What is an Adjective Clause?

'Adjective clauses' are also known as 'relative clauses' because actually there is a 'relative clause' (we mean a relative pronoun followed by a clause) preceded by a noun. And the clause defines the noun. Here are some examples of adjective clauses:

The man who was standing over there, made the girl cry.

The door which was opened by the teacher, was brown and yellow.


In some languages, such as French, adjectives change their form to reflect the gender, case, and number of the noun they describe. This is called agreement. In English, adjectives never agree.


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Descriptive adjectives are adjectives that modify a noun or pronoun by showing its quality. In this lesson, we will learn more about them.

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Comparative adjectives are used to compare one noun to another noun. Superlative adjectives are used to compare three or more nouns.

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