The Ultimate Guide to English Adjectives
English Adjectives are an essential part of English, and today we are going to give you the ultimate guide on how to use them effectively. Adjectives are used to describe things, and they come in many forms. First of all, take a look at the following useful list which categorizes some commonly used adjectives. As you read, try to think of some example sentences.
Adjectives of Quantity
• full• empty• some• few• half• several• many• every• many• numerous• aplenty• galore
That bus has many people inside.
Adjectives of Appearance
• beautiful• ugly• stunning• hideous• handsome• old• young• ancient• tall• short• clean• dirty• slim• chubby• long
The pyramids in Egypt are ancient.
Adjectives of Color
• red• orange• purple• green• yellow• orange• blue• brown• dark green• yellowish• metallic • transparent• silver
Some jellyfish are transparent.
Adjectives of Opinion
• good• bad• funny• boring• good• better• best• wonderful• splendid• mediocre• useful• useless• evil• lovely
The football match was very boring.
Adjectives of Size
• small• little• tiny• tall• mountainous• huge• minute• gigantic• long• short• same as• colossal• massive
Dinosaur’s were colossal animals.
• round• square• triangular• oval• cylindrical• oblong• zigzag• spherical• crooked• distorted• steep• straight• deep
The hill was incredibly steep.
• American •French •Spanish• English• Italian• Dutch •lunar •oceanic •polar •equatorial •northern• southern
William Shakespeare was an English poet.
• glass •wooden• cloth• concrete• fabric• leather• ceramic• china• steel• cotton• silicon• plastic
The room has a concrete floor.
• short• long• far• nearby• close• faraway• neighboring• distant• remote• far-flung• around• outlying• outermost
The mountains are far from here.
• hot• cold •boiling •freezing• frigid• sweltering• chilly• scalding• burning• cool• sizzling• wintry• frosty
The weather is scalding today.
•early •late• morning• afternoon• evening• night• first• last• initial• modern• old-fashioned• quick• rapid• belated
I woke up early for my morning coffee.
• happy• sad• excited• scared• funny• boring• cheerful• grumpy• lonely• brave• lazy• witty• mysterious• jealous
He is a very grumpy old man.
sweet• sour• acidic• bitter• salty• delicious• repulsive• tasty• yummy• appetizing• scrumptious• spicy• tasteless
The noodles were absolutely scrumptious.
• hard• soft• rough• smooth• grainy• coarse• bumpy• lumpy• polished• glossy• irregular• sticky• damp• cuddly
Sandpaper feels very rough.
• young• old• baby• child• childish• antique• youthful• elderly• mature• adolescent• infantile• bygone• recent
The goat was very young.
What is an Adjective?
Hopefully that list helped you understand what an adjective is. An adjective is a word that describes or changes the noun (a person, place or thing), pronoun or other adjectives. Most adjectives can be used in front of a noun; “They have a beautiful house” or after a link verb such as be, look, feel; “Their house is beautiful.”
Order of Adjectives
Now that you know what an adjective is, along with many examples of the different types of adjectives to use, the next important step is to order your adjectives. If you have a sentence that has more than two adjectives, then you need to place your adjectives in a particular order. Otherwise, your sentence will sound really strange. Take a look at this helpful video to show you how to order your adjective sentences:
Can you rewrite these sentences in the correct order? Share your answers with us in the comments section!
- The couch is (classic, canvas, tan, small, new).
- Her new apartment is (cool, blue, small, cozy, inexpensive).
- The painting is (American, dark, oil, interesting, expensive).
- My new car is a (1970s, blue, awesome, fast) Mustang.
- Seattle is a (fun, rainy, quiet, hip) city.
Adjectives With -ED or -ING
The next stage in our ultimate guide is using adjectives with -ed and -ing endings. A lot of our students get confused by English adjectives with -ed and -ing. First, because they look like verbs in the present simple and the continuous tense. Second, because they’re not sure how the -ing and -ed affect the meaning of the word. Watch the video below to understand the difference between the two adjective types.
Remember, -ed ending adjectives often describe emotions. They tell us how people feel about something: “He was surprised to see the monkey riding a horse.” On the other hand, -ing ending adjectives describe the thing that caused the emotion. For example, “The film was absolutely terrifying.” Be careful in particular with these adjectives because they can be used in both forms:
Now try these exercises by selecting either the -ing or -ed form of the adjective. Remember to write your answers in the comments section, and we’ll respond!
- My English classes via Skype are very (interested/interesting).
- The students are never (bored/boring) in our classes.
- I was (irritated/irritating) that I had to wait 2 weeks to see the movie.
- He was (embarrassed/embarrassing) that he hadn’t studied his English adjectives.
- The news that the economy is (improved/improving) was good news to everyone.
- We are (excited/exciting) that our new video is finished.
- I think that animation can be very (entertained/entertaining).
- We plan on having a (relaxed/relaxing) weekend.
- This month’s results are (encouraged/encouraging).
- I hope this lesson wasn’t (confused/confusing) for you.
Adjectives as Nouns
Now that we have covered some of the basics of adjective use, we are going to look at something a little more difficult. Using adjectives as nouns can be very confusing for those learning English. If we use the article “the” in front of an adjective, it changes meaning into a plural noun. Look at these examples:
- The good always win in movies
- The unemployed are losing hope.
- We should do something to help the homeless.
As you can see, using adjectives as nouns in this form allows you to talk about groups of people. For example, poor people = the poor. We don’t often want to make generalizations of groups of people saying they all have similar qualities, however it is useful and efficient when discussing political and social policies. Take a look at this video below which explains the use of adjectives as nouns.
Are you ready to try? Change the following adjectives to nouns using ‘the.’ Don’t forget to share your responses with us in the comments section!
Example: Old people and young people need to come together on the issue of public transportation.
Answer: The old and the young need to come together on the issue of public transportation.
1. Educated people are running the country.
2. Rich people have a lot of advantages over poor people.
3. Old people are encouraged to get the flu shot.
4. Homeless men, women, and children are advised to find shelter in churches or public shelters for the next few night.
5. Unemployed people should move to find work.
6. Living people must respect the wishes of the dead.
Adjectives as Adverbs
Next up, we are going to look at turning adjectives into adverbs. As we mentioned earlier, adjectives change the meaning of nouns, pronouns or other adjectives. Above, we saw how we can change adjectives into nouns. Now we are going to look at how to change adjectives into adverbs.
Adverbs (adjective + ly) are used to modify the verb, adjectives or other adverbs. Look below for some examples:
- Modify verbs: She spoke confidently when she pitched her idea to the team.
- Modify adjectives: Apartments in Amsterdam are outrageously expensive.
- Modify other adverbs: She spoke extremely confidently.
The most common irregular adverbs are well, fast and hard. Make sure you don’t add an -ly to these words!
Check out this video for some extra help:
I hope that helped your understanding of this concept. Below are some sentences with a choice of adverbs to modify the sentence. Can you choose the correct adverb? As always, write your answers in the comment section so we can give you some feedback.
1. “How was the test?” “Not good, it was (absolutely/really) difficult.”
2. “Are you hungry?” “Yes. I’m (absolutely/very) starving.”
3. “Did you like the movie?” “No. I thought is was (totally/very) awful.”
4. “Did you have a good vacation?” “Yes. It was (really/very) fantastic.”
5.“Do you like talking about business?” “Yes. I think it is (very/absolutely) interesting.”
Practice with Adjectives
Hopefully by now you are starting to have a better understanding of what adverbs are and how we can change adjectives into adverbs. Let’s practice. Listen to this video below to hear some examples of adjectives and adverbs. Then complete the sentences below with the correct adverb or adjective.
- Most foods we cook require _______ attention to cooking temperature and time in order to get ____ results.
- There’s one food that’s __________ _________.
- Like their higher protein content and ______ flavor, they are ______ in another way.
- Mushrooms have a _____ texture over a ____ range of cooking times and temperatures.
- Steamed them in a basket in a _____ Dutch oven.
- The tenderloin, portobello and zucchini required 186, 199 and 239 grams of force ____________ to be compressed 3mm.
- The tasters noted that all of these samples were ______.
- This picture changed ____________ after five more minutes of steaming.
- Tasters found the tenderloin tough and leathery, and the zucchini was ______ ____.
- The portobello on the other hand remained _______ _________.
- Eventually turning a ________ 293% tougher, while the zucchini decreased in firmness by 83% and turned _____ and _____________.
- Tasters still found the mushrooms to be ________ ______.
- Chitin is ____ ____-______.
- This ______ structure allows us to _______ sauté mushrooms for just a few minutes, or roast them for the better part of an hour.
- All the while, achieving ____-_______, _________ ______ specimens.
Comparative adjectives are used to compare 2 objects. The key to understanding comparative adjectives is to count how many syllables (the number of sounds in a word) are in the adjective. For example, fast has one syllable, handsome has 2 syllables and dangerous has 3 syllables.
For one syllable adjectives, we simply add -er to the end of the adjective.
- Example: Laura is taller than Sarah.
If the adjective ends in a consonant + vowel + consonant spelling, (for example, ‘fat’ or ‘big’), then you need to double the final consonant before adding -er.
- Example: That hippo is fatter than the crocodile.
For two or more syllable adjectives, simply use the form more + adjective + than.
- Example: London is more expensive than Bangkok.
For two syllable adjective ends in -y, change the -y to -i and add -er.
- Example: He is happier than Eric.
Memorize this useful chart below so you can remember the comparative form.
1 syllable adjective + -er She is faster than Mary.
He is bigger than me.
2 + syllables more + adjective Jack is more handsome than Jerry. 2 syllables ending in -y drop -y from adjective +-ier That joke was funnier than mine.
Superlative adjectives are used when we are talking about 3 or more objects, where we want to show what is the upper or lower limit of something. The rules to use for superlative adjectives are very similar to comparative adjectives.
For one syllable adjectives, add -est, and again, if the word ends in vowel-consonant, double the consonant.
- That is the tallest building in the whole city.
- Today is the hottest day of the year.
For two or more syllable adjectives, use the form the most + adjective.
- This is the most beautiful painting in the whole museum.
For two syllable adjectives that end in -y, change the -y to -i and add -est.
- That is the funniest joke I have ever heard.
Here’s another helpful chart to help you remember the rules:
1 syllable the + adjective + add -est That’s the tallest building in New York.
He is the biggest guy in the class.
2+ syllables the most + adjective Emma is the most interesting woman I’ve ever met. 2 syllables ending in -y drop -y from adjective +-iest Peter is the funniest of all my friends.
As always in English, there are some irregulars, so be careful! The most common irregular adjectives are shown below.
Adjective Comparative Superlative good better best bad worse worst little less least much more most far further / farther furthest / farthest
Now that you have learned all of these rules, have a go at a quick quiz below. Think of an adjective which could fit into the sentence, and then change it to the correct comparative or superlative form. Don’t forget to leave your responses in the comments section, and we’ll respond with corrections or feedback!
- The blue car is ____________ than the red car.
- This is the most _____________ t-shirt in the shop.
- Antarctica is the ___________ place on Earth.
- Michael Jordan is the ____________ basketball player of all time.
- Albert Einstein was ________ _________________ __________ me.
- That was the _________ ____________ movie I have ever seen!
- I live in the __________ city/town/village in my country.
We hope that enjoyed today’s this Ultimate Guide to Adjectives. You should now be an English adjective master! Remember to write any comments or answers to questions that you have in the comment section so we can write back to you. If you want to put your newfound knowledge into practice, then sign up here today for a trial class with LOI English.