Adjectives are tricky little things, and sometimes not easy to understand: they describe nouns and add detail to sentences, but they can come in a lot of different shapes and forms. This grammar lesson teaches you everything you need to know about adjectives and how to use them correctly in a sentence.
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WHAT IS AN ADJECTIVE?
An adjective is a word that describes the qualities of a noun. So, it’s a word that describes the qualities or characteristics of an object, person, place, or thing.
I’m going to start with a simple example by telling you that all colours are adjectives.
The blue pen. ‘Blue’ is the adjective, ‘pen’ is the noun. From this sentence, we get an understanding of the colour of the pen. Notice that the adjective goes BEFORE the noun.
The red pen. Adjectives are interchangeable: I can swap one colour for another.
I want you to think for a second about the difference between ‘The pen’ and ‘The blue pen’. What is the difference?
The difference is that we understand the noun in greater detail in the second example. We understand the pen’s colour and this helps us with picturing exactly what kind of pen it is. This is called imagery; we can picture the specific image of a blue pen in our heads, rather than just a random pen. The more detail you use in a description, the more specific the image in your reader’s (or audience’s) mind will become.
USING MULTIPLE ADJECTIVES
I can use several adjectives together to build up an even more specific image of the pen.
The elegant blue fountain pen.
The tiny light blue pen.
What’s the difference between these two images? They both start with the same idea — ‘The pen’ — but you can see that by using the different adjectives it can create very different images in the reader’s mind.
Here are a list of adjectives, I want you to make a sentence with each one:
Beautiful, happy, angry, ugly, dangerous, amazing, horrible
From this exercise, you can see that you can also use adjectives to create strong feelings in your readers, either positive or negative feelings. We can use adjectives to create what is known as emotive language. This technique of emotive language is useful because it creates a more compelling or persuasive piece of writing — it can be used to enhance your reader’s emotional connection to yourself and your ideas.
For a final exercise on adjectives, look below at this list of different adjectives.Think about the meaning of each one — write out what each adjective shows about the noun that it describes. Don’t use the adjective itself in your definition, eg if something says ‘good’, don’t use the word ‘good’ when you explain the meaning.
I will do the first one for you as an example:
- Good cake — this shows that the cake gets a positive reaction from people who eat or see it
- New shoes
- Long beach
- Great weather
- Other people
- Old horse
- Tall mountain
- Different cups
- Young boy
- Important document
- Public space
- Bad hair
- Strange family
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