Adjectives are words that describe or modify nouns (people, places, things, or animals) or pronouns. They describe the noun by telling us its size, shape, age, colour, etc. Adjectives usually come before the noun or pronoun, or sometimes they can come after it. Other parts of speech such as articles (the, a, an) are sometimes classified as adjectives.

The following are the subsections in this lesson:

As modifiers of nouns, adjectives give us some information about the nouns such as size, shape, age, colour, where the nouns come from, what material they are made of and for what purpose.

It is a rotten egg. (Observation)
It is a beautiful painting of a sea. (Opinion)
It is a big cat from Africa. (Size)
It is a rectangular box. (Shape)
It is an ancient castle. (Age)
It is a black bull. (Colour)
It is an Indian elephant. (Origin)
It is a cotton dress. (Material)
It is a school bus. (Purpose)
  

There are different kinds of adjectives which include the following:

  • Demonstrative adjectives are this, that, these, and those. We use them to point out specific people or things.There are different kinds of adjectives which include the following:
  • Descriptive adjectives are the most common adjectives. We use them to describe nouns.
  • Interrogative adjectives are words such as what, which, and whose that modify nouns. We use an interrogative adjective with a noun to ask a question.
  • Indefinite adjectives are words like all, any, each, few, many, much, most, several, and some that describe nouns in a general or non-specific manner.
  • Possessive adjectives modify nouns or noun phrases and are words such as my, your, his, her, its, our, and their which we use before nouns to show possession. 
 
Identifying adjectives in a sentence
As the adjective comes immediately before a noun, its position in a sentence is usually between the following:
  • an article (a, an, the) and a noun: a sandy beach, an old church, the vast ocean
  • a demonstrative (this, that, these, those) and a noun: this new book, that wild horse
  • an amount (all, few, most, several, some, most) and a noun: few volunteers, several mistakes 

 

Adjectives as complements

Adjectives can act as complements although not all complements are adjectives. Complements are words that complete the predicate of a sentence with the use of the verb to be. The predicate is the part of a sentence or clause (that includes the verb) which tells us what the subject does or is.

 

Examples:

  • You are beautiful.
  • He is tall, dark and handsome.
  • They were our tour guides.
  • We have been train drivers for more than five years.

 

In the first example, beautiful is an adjective complement. If the complement is only one word, it is very likely to be an adjective. 
In the second example, there are three adjectives:  tall, dark, and handsome. These three adjectives form the complement which together with the verb to be (linking verb) is form the predicate.
In the third and fourth examples, our tour guides and train drivers for more than five years are noun phrases; they are not adjective phrases.