English for Everybody - Intermediate Course
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Summary. Adjectives tell you more about nouns. In English adjectives don't change are always singular (even if the noun is plural). You can use several adjectives before a noun, or you can use the adjective on its own in a phrase. There are different kinds of adjectives, and they come in a certain order.

Here we are going to look at:

  1. Kinds of adjective.
  2. The Grammar of adjectives.
  3. Other things that describe nouns

Kinds of adjective.

It is important to know what kinds of adjectives there are. When we do the grammar of adjectives, you will see that some sorts of adjectives are written in front of other ones.

Adjectives of type

These are the most common kind of adjective. They tell you most of the information you would like to know about a noun. They describe things like shape, size, colour and age.
For example:
Imagine you want to buy some apples. There are some things you would like to know about the apples.
Colour - are they red or green?
Size - are they big or small?
Taste - are they sweet or bitter?
Cost - are they cheap or expensive?
Age - are the apples fresh or old?
The answers to these questions are given by adjectives of type - thay are tasty, big, green, expensive fresh apples.

Derived Adjectives

Sometimes adjectives are made from nouns:
For example:
friendly from friend / smelly from smell
Or from verbs
For example:
Sticky from to stick / Shiny from to shine.
(You can see that these adjectives often are made by putting -y and -ly on the end.)
But nouns can also be made into adjectives without any change
For example:
Cat food / Air travel / football boots.

Compound Adjectives

Some adjectives are small sentences by themselves. These "compound adjectives" are often joined by hyphens ( - ). They are groups of words that are not all adjectoves, but they make a meaning that is just one adjective.
For example:
an upside-down car. / a potato-and-onion soup
These "compound adjectives" do not always have hyphens :
For example:
A New Year's Day party.


Numbers are usually adjectives, because the information they give is how many of the noun. They can be cardinal (like one, two, three), or ordinal (like first, second, third).
For example:
A thousand pounds.
The second example. Sometimes numbers can look like nouns because of ellipsis (ellipsis is when you do not say all of the words in a sentence because the other person knows what the words will be).
For example:
Jane has one boyfriend, but Mary has two (boyfriends)
one and two are both adjectives.

Sometimes adjectives of number are not precise.
For example:
A few days. Many kinds of adjective.
In grammar, adjectives of number come before most other kinds of adjective.

Demonstrative Adjectives

These are called demonstrative because they show something. The demonstrative adjectives are: this and that (singular), and these and those (plural). This and these mean "the one(s) here"; and that and those mean "the one(s) over there".
For example:
This apple here is green, that apple there is red.
These examples are useful, and those given above are useful too.
Demonstrative adjectives come even before adjectives of number.

Other kinds of adjective

For example:
The six o'clock train. / A September morning./ He is a frequent visitor. /An early start.

Adjectives of feeling. Sometimes you find these where you might expect an adverb
For example:
You sound happy. / I feel bad. / He seems angry.

The Grammar of Adjectives

Adjectives in English are not inflected (the endings do not change). In fact, English adjectives do not change at all, whether they are describing one or many of a noun, or whether they are describing females, males or things.
For example:
A tall man. / A tall woman. / A tall
Tall trees. / Tall boys. / Tall girls.
Notice that the adjective - here I am using the adjective tall - does not change in any of the examples.

The order of adjectives

Adjectives are used in a certain order. Watch how you can build up this adjective set.
football boots.
Old football boots.
Three old football boots.
Three old black Spanish football boots
Three small old black Spanish football boots
These three small old black Spanish football boots
So the order is demonstrative, number, size, age, colour, nationality and noun adjective.. We have not done participles. when we do these you will see that a participle can be used where the noun adjective is.

When we use more than one adjective of a kind, we use commas to separate them.
For example:
A cold, windy autumn day.
Here there are two adjectives of the same kind (cold and windy) and one of a different kind (autumn), because autumn is about time, not weather, so we do not use a comma between windy and autumn.

You can put many adjectives before a noun, but English speakers do not usually use more than two or three, especially if they are adjectives of the same kind. Instead we put an extra part (usually a relative clause) afterward.
For example:
The big, scary house was dark and empty. / She had two black dogs which were noisy, messy and friendly.

The verb "to be"

Adjectives are often used with the verb "to be".
For example:
The apples are green
If we are using adjectives without "to be", the adjectives usually come before the noun. If we use "to be" then the adjectives come after the verb "to be".
For example:
The big house is empty.

If we use more than one adjective after a noun, we can put and between the adjectives:
For example:
The house was old and dark and empty.
If you put lots of adjectives, you must put and before the last one.
For example:
The house was old, dark and empty.

Other ways to describe nouns ...

The past participle and the present participle are very like adjectives in their grammar, but participles are such a big subject that there will be a whole lesson on them later.

If adjectives are good, comparatives are better. We use them to show which noun has more of ojne kind of adjective.
For example:
These apples are greener than those.
We will also do a lesson on comparatives later in the course.

So, now you have met many interesting adjectives, which are fun and useful. Now let's do some adjective exercises!

Let's go!