Proper Adjectives

Proper adjectives are commonly used in English. They tend to modify nouns and pronouns. in this lesson, we will learn more about them.

Intermediate
What Are Proper Adjectives?

What Are Proper Adjectives?

Proper adjectives are derived from proper nouns. Based on English orthography, some adjectives take initial capital letters, and some do not.

So based on capitalization, we can categorize adjectives into two groups:

  • Common Adjectives
  • Proper Adjectives

Types of Proper Adjectives

Proper adjectives are derived from proper nouns. They are used to modify some specific person, place, language, organized groups, etc. They can be related to:

  • countries: Italian, Polish, American, etc.
  • religions: Islamic, Christian, Buddhistic, etc.
  • cities: Chicagoans, Venetian, etc.
  • famous people: Shakespearean, Elizabethan, Marxist, etc.

Proper Adjectives: Functions

Proper adjectives in a sentence can be:

  • Predicative Adjectives
  • Attributive Adjectives

as a Predicative Adjective

Proper adjective can modify an indefinite pronoun. Or they can appear after the linking verb, in which case, proper adjective are the subject complement of the sentence. Check out the examples:

She is Korean.

We need someone Italian.

as an Attributive Adjective

When a proper adjective is used before a noun to modify it, then it is an attributive adjective. Here are a few examples:

I bought a Shakespearean novel.

This is an Islamic book.

using a proper adjective to modify a noun

Proper Noun vs. Proper Adjective

Remember there is a delicate difference between a noun as a modifier and an adjective as a modifier. Proper adjective modifiers have a proper noun as a root word, but you cannot find the root word of a proper noun.

We watched a French movie. → proper adjective

In this example, the root word for 'French' is 'France.'

Take a slice of New York pizza not to regret it. → proper noun modifier

In this example, 'New York' is a proper noun, not a proper adjective and it acts as a modifier for pizza.

Proper Adjectives vs. Common Adjectives

The only difference between common and proper adjectives is that proper adjectives are derived from a proper noun; therefore, they are easy to be known. And common adjectives are common words that modify a noun or pronoun. Here are the examples:

I gave him a beautiful flower. → common adjective

In this example, there is no proper root noun.

I gave him a Polish flower. → proper adjective

Here, the root proper noun is 'Poland.'

Dictation Rules for Proper Adjectives

Since proper adjectives are derived from proper nouns and proper nouns are capitalized at the beginning, proper adjectives start with capital letter as well. For example:

Italian, Christian, London

Nordic, Portuguese

When we add a prefix to a proper adjective the prefix is not capitalized and it is followed by a hyphen. Here are the examples:

post-European culture

pre-Taoistic beliefs

Tip!

Sometimes, some common adjectives are capitalized in special cases, because in a particular context, they refer to an ethnic group with a shared culture, heritage, or ancestry. For example, the words 'Native' and 'Aboriginal' in countries such as Australia and Canada.

Proper Adverbs

An adverb formed from a capitalized adjective is itself capitalized. For example:

Eating pork is not Islamically acceptable.

Living Frenchly doesn't mean you have to live in France.

Review

Proper adjectives are adjectives that are capitalized at the beginning and are created out of proper nouns. They are usually related to the following proper nouns:

  • names of countries
  • names of religions
  • names of cities
  • names of famous people

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