Adjective Phrases

Phrases are two or more words that can function as specific parts of speech. Adjective phrases are groups of words that function as adjectives.

intermediate
"Adjective Phrases" in the English Grammar

What Is an Adjective Phrase?

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

How to Identify an Adjective Phrase

In order to find the adjective phrase in a sentence, follow these steps:

  1. Find the adjective in the sentence.
  2. Determine if the adjective stands alone or is accompanied by other words.
  3. If it stands alone, it is just an adjective. If it is accompanied by other words, it is the head of an adjective phrase.
  4. Other words accompanying the head can be adverbs, prepositions, prepositional phrases, or other adjectives. They are called modifiers.

Position

Adjective phrases can appear:

  • before the nouns they modify: prepositive adjectives
  • after the nouns they modify: postpositive adjectives

Prepositive Adjective Phrases

Most commonly, adjective phrases are placed before the noun or pronoun they modify. They are called prepositive adjective phrases.

The smell of the hot delicious cake makes me hungry.

A very big game is on Sunday.

I am reading a really amazing book.

Postpositive Adjective Phrases

Sometimes adjective phrases are placed after the noun or pronoun they modify. They are called postpositive adjective phrases. Typically, a postpositive adjective is linked to its noun with a linking verb, such as 'be,' 'seem,' 'appear,' etc.

That sweatshirt was way too big.

using an adjective phrase in a sentence

Making delicious meals makes me extremely happy.

The cupcakes smell deliciously sweet.

Function

Adjective phrases (like all other adjectives) modify nouns or pronouns.

Structure

We can form adjective phrases in various ways:

  1. combining several adjectives in a row
  2. adverb + adjective
  3. adjective + adverb
  4. adjective + complement
  5. adverb + adjective + complement

(1) I would like a piece of the delicious, buttery, German chocolate dessert.

(2) This coffee is very cold.

(3) This house is big enough for two people.

(4) The country's economy is dependent on natural resources.

(5) Are you really interested in Hip-Hop?

Adjective Phrase vs. Adjective Clause

An adjective clause (like all the other clauses) must have a subject and a verb.
An adjective phrase does not have a subject and a verb.

The pizza you delivered this evening was not what we've ordered.

In this example, the clause 'you delivered this evening' is a multi-word adjective describing 'The pizza.' It has a subject 'you' and a verb 'delivered'.

We ate a very delicious margarita pizza this evening.

In this example, the phrase 'a very delicious margarita' is a multi-word adjective describing 'The pizza.' It does not have a subject and a verb.

Review

Adjective phrases are a set of words that are used together and all of them modify the same noun or pronoun. They have different names based on their position in the clause. Check out the list.

  • attributive adjective phrases are placed before the noun or pronoun.
  • predicative adjective phrases are placed after the noun or pronoun.

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Noun Phrases

When a group of nouns come together, they form a noun phrase. To know what is a noun phrase and how short or how long a noun phrase can be, start here!

Verb Phrases

It's time to learn how to identify the verb phrase in a sentence. Learning about verb phrases is essential in speaking and writing without mistakes.

Prepositional Phrases

What are prepositional phrases? Generally, as its name requires, prepositional phrases are phrases made of prepositions. To get to know them, read the article.

Adverbial Phrases

Adverbial phrases are made of two or more words and are used as the adverb of the sentence. In this lesson, you will get to know phrasal verbs.

Gerunds

Gerunds are words derived from verbs that act as nouns. All gerunds include a verb and -ing. In this lesson, we will learn more about them.

Infinitive Phrases

Infinitive phrases are phrases that look like infinitives but they are used in special positions.

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