Adjectives are words that describe or indicate degree. Adjectives are used to describe nouns or pronouns. Adjectives are also used after linking verbs.
When a number of adjectives are used together, their order depends on the function of the adjective. The usual order is:
- Quantity: two, five, a few, many, several
- Value/opinion: good, kind, delicious, ugly, beautiful
- Size: small, large, tall, tiny, huge
- Temperature: hot, cold, lukewarm, tepid
- Age: old, young, new, 28-year-old, elderly
- Shape: square, round, pointed, oval
- Color: red, yellow, purple, green, black
- Origin: English, Italian, Arabian, Victorian, Chinese
- Material: iron, glass, silver, paper, wooden
- An amazing (quality), heart-shaped (shape), red and white (color) paper (material) Valentine’s Day card.
- A breathtaking (quality), old (age), red (color) Italian (origin) sports car.
- The three (quantity) silly (opinion) newborn (age) calico (color) kittens.
- Use –ed adjectives to describe nouns
- polished table
- experienced journalist
- Distinguished author
- Use –er & –est to compare
If a one–syllable adjective ends in –e, add –r for comparisons between two items and –st for comparisons among more than two items.
- This dress is fine.
- This dress is finer than that outfit.
- This dress is the finest one I have seen in any store.
- This cat is small.
- This cat is smaller than my dog.
- This cat is the smallest in the litter.
- Use more/most & less/least for multi-syllable words
With most two–syllable adjectives and all three–and four–syllable adjectives, DO NOT use the –r, –er, –st, or –est endings. Instead, put more/most or less/least before the adjective. If an –r, –er, –st, or –est ending can be used with a two–syllable adjective, the dictionary will list these endings.
- Tony is comfortable.
- Tony is less comfortable than Leo.
- Tony is the least comfortable person in class.
- Use "other" or "else" when comparing people or objects
To compare one person or object with other members of the same group, use other or else. Be careful, though, some words cannot be compared.
- She is more knowledgeable than any other analyst.
- That watch is unique. (It cannot be "more unique.")
- Place adjectives after linking verbs
Use an adjective after a linking verb such as seem, appear, become, grow, remain, stay, prove, feel, look, smell, sound, and taste. DO NOT use an adjective after an action verb; use an adverb instead.
- I feel bad about all the trouble I caused.
- The garbage smells terrible.
- The dog looked alert. (The adjective alert tells us how the noun dog appeared.)
- The dog looked alertly at its owner. (The dog is performing the action of looking. The adverb alertly tells us about the verb. It tells us how the dog performed the action.)
- Hyphenate two or more words that precede a noun
Use a hyphen to join two or more words that precede a noun and act as one term (compound adjective). DO NOT use a hyphen if the description follows the noun. DO NOT use a hyphen if two or more proper nouns serve as adjectives.
- He is a well–known author.
- The author is well known.
- Texas has many Gulf Coast communities.