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Definition of Adjectives: Adjectives are words that modify nouns. This means they provide more information about the noun such as color, size, shape, etc. Adjectives can be single words ("red") or phrases ("that arrived in the mail"). Basically, adjectives help to specify which one of a noun we are talking about. Click here to see types of adjectives.

Like adverbs, adjectives can be single words or phrases. I could say “I live in a brown house.” The adjective is “brown.” I could add an adjectival phrase which adds more information about the house: “I live in a brown house on a curving street across from the sea.” The whole phrase “…on a curving street across from the sea” is an adjectival phrase providing more information about the house. Essentially adjectives answer the question "What" or "Which".

In English, adjectives usually come before the noun they modify. There is a natural order to how to arrange the adjectives. For example, a native English speaker would never say "the blue old house" but would say "the old blue house." Here is the order of adjectives:

  1. Determiners: a, the, several
  2. Opinion: cute, cuddly, ugly, magnificent
  3. Size: large, small, tiny, humongous
  4. Shape: round, square, flat, 3-D
  5. Age: new, old, ancient, new-born
  6. Colour: red, blue, green
  7. Origin: Canadian, American, British, Mexican
  8. Material: gold, steel, wooden
  9. Qualifier: limits (often in the form of a phrase after the noun).

Some examples:

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When an adjective is formed in a phrase that begins with a preposition, it is called a prepositional adjective phrase. In the sentence above the phrase "in a field of dandelions" is an prepositional adjectival phrase that provides information about where the four-leaf clover is to be found.

Well or good

Now here’s a question I get a lot: “I am good” or “I am well.” It’s confusing because the word “well” has two meanings. One is as an adjective, describing how an action is performed. “He writes well.” It also is a state of health. The rule is that you should use an adjective to modify the subject after a linking verb. That means use “well.” But you could also say “My health is good.” On the other hand, if you are six years old and you want to tell about your behavior to Grandma, you can say “I am good.”

Adjective Examples

Examples: the adjectives are in red. The nouns they modify are in blue.

I am attending an online college.

I write long term papers.

I would like to travel to a hot climate.

I want to buy a fast computer.

My sister just bought a new car.

I want to vote for the best candidate.

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Identify the adjective in the following sentences.

Environmentalists are concerned about global warming.

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas.

Renewable energy should be developed.

Green technology can be good for the economy.

There are actually several types of adjectives. Click here to see other types of adjectives.

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