Types of Adjectives

Adjectives are the most used words in sentences. There are several types of adjectives according to their uses. Let's get to know them!

Intermediate
"Types of Adjectives" in English Grammar

Adjective Categorizations

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:

Attributive Adjectives

Attributive adjectives come directly before a noun and attribute a quality to the noun they modify. More than one adjective can modify the same noun.

I have a fast car.

The word 'fast' is describing an attribute of the car.

I'm having a nice day.

Attributive Adjectives: Types

Attributive adjectives can appear directly after or before the noun. Based on this, they can be categorized into two groups:

Pre-positive Adjectives

'Pre-positive adjectives' are adjectives that are used before nouns it means that they make a noun phrase. Remember, we can have a set of unlimited attributive adjectives before a noun.

They were waiting in a dark room.

He was wearing a light blue shirt.

Post-positive Adjectives

A postpositive adjective (also called postnominal adjective) is an adjective that occurs immediately after the noun or pronoun that it modifies.

We need someone powerful.

Predicative Adjectives

When adjectives appear after a linking verb (be, seem, become, appear...) they are called predicative adjectives, because they form part of the predicate. Check out the examples for more clarification:

It sounds creepy, I hope you agree with me.

He appeared crazy this morning.

Based on Formation

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

Simple Adjectives

Simple adjectives are the most basic kind of adjectives. They are formed with only one word.

He was young.

That sounds nice!

Compound Adjectives

A compound adjective (also called a hyphenated adjective) contains two or more words. They are often separated by a hyphen to avoid confusion or ambiguity. Here are some examples:

The stars enjoyed an intense but short-lived romance.

He always drives old-fashioned cars.

'delicious' here is an example of predicative adjective

Based on Capitalization

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

Common Adjectives

All the Adjectives except proper adjectives are considered common adjectives.

It was a tremendous explosion.

Don't be stupid!

Proper Adjectives

Proper adjectives are formed from proper nouns. When proper nouns describe other nouns, they become proper adjectives.

I love Chinese food.

American cars are very strong.

Based on Gradeability

Based on whether the adjective has a scalar meaning or an absolute meaning, they can be categorized into two main groups:

Gradable Adjectives

Gradable (also called scalar) adjectives have a meaning that can be placed on a scale of meaning. For example:

  • smart, dumb, stupid
  • fast, quick, slow
  • bright, dark, light

Non-gradable Adjectives

'Non-gradable Adjectives' are definite in nature. It means that they are on the furthest part of a spectrum. They are generally, incapable of being intensified.

The party was perfect, I have never seen such one in my entire life.

Based on Comparability

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

Non-comparable Adjectives

Non-comparable adjectives (also called absolute adjectives) are definite in nature. It means that you cannot change them or make a superlative or comparative adjective from them. They are generally, incapable of being intensified. For example adjectives such as (dead, pregnant, etc.)

A person cannot be more dead as they are, or a mother cannot be more pregnant than she is.

He was dead in 1996. (Not 'more dead')

I have an extra pen. (Not 'more extra')

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:

Comparative and Superlative Adjectives

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.

The smallest part of its body is its tail.

The previous movie was more interesting.

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:

Restrictive and Non-restrictive Adjectives

Some attributive adjectives are necessary to the meaning of the sentence (i.e. they are restrictive) and some are not (i.e. they are non-restrictive). Look at the following examples:

She was an irresponsible woman, who would not do a difficult task and would only do the easy ones.

Here 'difficult' is restrictive: it tells which tasks she avoids, distinguishing these from the easy ones.

Her task was filing the documents signed by her predecessor, and she performed this difficult task with care and attention.

Here 'difficult' is non-restrictive: it is already known which task it was, but the adjective describes it more fully.

Nouns Used as Adjectives

Sometimes we use a noun to describe another noun. In that case, the first noun acts as an adjective.

My math teacher is very mean.

I'm reading a love story.

Nominal Adjectives

Nominal adjectives (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.

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In this lesson, we will learn the place of adjectives in a sentence and where they appear. We will also learn about the order of different types of adjectives

Descriptive Adjectives

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

Comparative and Superlative Adjectives

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

Attributive and Predicative Adjectives

An attributive adjective is an adjective that appears before the noun or pronoun it describes. In this lesson, we will learn more about them.

Compound Adjectives

Compound adjectives are used as one single adjective. They function as the head of the sentence. In this lesson, we will learn all about them.

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