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The Adjective


The Adjective

The Adjective


An adjective modifies a noun or a pronoun.
To modify means “to describe” or “to make more definite.” An adjective modifies a noun or a pronoun by telling what kind, which one, how many, or how much.

What Kind?
ripening apples / happy child / Asian country / up-to-date look
Which One?
this book / last straw / those girls / next step
How Many?
two students / both answers / several choices / many people
How Much?
one-half cup / enough time / more money / less trouble

An adjective usually precedes the word it modifies. 

Example:The tired and hungry hikers straggled into camp.

Sometimes, for emphasis, an adjective follows the word it modifies.

Example:The hikers, tired and hungry, straggled into camp.

An adjective that modifies the subject may appear in the predicate. Such an adjective is called a predicate adjective.

Examples:The hikers felt tired and hungry.
Tired and hungry were the hikers.


The most frequently used adjectives are a, an, and the. These words are called articles.
A and an are called indefinite articles because they refer to any member of a general group. A is used before words beginning with a consonant sound; an is used before words beginning with a vowel

Examples:Felipe added a tomato and an avocado to the salad.
A European said, “It is an honor to be here with you.” [A is used before European because European begins with a consonant sound. An is used before honor because the h in honor is not pronounced; honor is pronounced as though it began with a vowel.]

The is called the definite article because it refers to a specific person, place, thing, or idea.

We spent the hour discussing the revolution that began in 1791 in Haiti.

Adjective or Pronoun?

In different contexts, a word may be used as different parts of speech. For example, the following words may be used as adjectives and as pronouns.

all either much some those another few neither such what any many one that which both more other these whose each most several this

Remember that an adjective modifies a noun or a pronoun and that a pronoun takes the place of a noun or another pronoun.

ADJECTIVE Ntozake Shange wrote both poems. [Both modifies the noun poems.]
PRONOUN Ntozake Shange wrote both. [Both takes the place of the noun poems.]

ADJECTIVE These books are overdue. [These modifies the noun books.]
PRONOUN These are overdue. [These takes the place of the noun books.]

ADJECTIVE Several ducks had dark green heads. [Several modifies the noun ducks.]
PRONOUN Several had dark green heads. [Several takes the place of the noun ducks.]

NOTEThe words this, that, these, and those are called demonstrative pronouns when they take the place of nouns or other pronouns and are called demonstrative adjectives when they modify nouns or pronouns.

Adjective or Noun?

Most words that are used as nouns can also be used as adjectives

sofa cushion
hotel lobby
taco salad
high school
high school senior
Marine Corps
Marine Corps cadet

An adjective that is formed from a proper noun, such as Marine Corps in the last example above, is called a proper adjective. Proper adjectives, like proper nouns, are capitalized.

NOTEDo not mistake part of a compound noun for an adjective. The entire word group is considered a noun

paper clips, cable TV, time capsule, United States

The Adjective Worksheet

Identify the adjectives and the words they modify in the following sentences. Do not include articles (a, an, and the).
1. His first book, Blue Highways, chronicled a journey across the United States in 1978.
2. That book attracted many readers and made the national bestseller lists.
3. In PrairyErth, Heat-Moon narrows his focus to a single Kansas county.
4. The unusual title comes from the shorthand term scientists use for the unique soils of the central states.
5. Chase County lies in east-central Kansas.
6. It is, as Heat-Moon says, “the most easterly piece” of the West.
7. A county with a population of 3,013 may seem an unlikely location for an examination of the role humanity plays on this planet.
8. After all, the county has only two towns and a few villages.
9. In many ways, though, Kansas is a microcosm of America.
10. In this masterful prose, Chase County in turn reveals itself to be a microcosm of Kansas.

Mr. ‏El-Sayed Ramadan ‎ ‎


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