Adjectives are words that describe or modify another person or thing in the sentence. 

(a, an, and the)  are adjectives.

  • the tall professor
  • the lugubrious lieutenant
  • a solid commitment
  • a month's pay
  • a six-year-old child
  • the unhappiest, richest man

If a sentence contains a subject and verb acts as an adjective, it is called an adjective clause.  - My sister, who is much older than I am, is an teacher.

If an adjective clause is stripped of its subject and verb, the resulting modifier becomes an Adjective Phrase:

-          He is the man who is keeping my family in the poorhouse.

Before getting into other usage considerations, one general note about the use — or over-use — of adjectives: Adjectives are frail; don't ask them to do more work than they should. Let your broad-shouldered verbs and nouns do the hard work of description. Be particularly cautious in your use of adjectives that don't have much to say in the first place: interesting, beautiful, lovely, and exciting. It is your job as a writer to create beauty and excitement and interest, and when you simply insist on its presence without showing it to your reader — well, you're convincing no one.

Position of Adjectives:

Unlike Adverbs, which often seem capable of popping up almost anywhere in a sentence, adjectives nearly always appear immediately before the noun or noun phrase that they modify. Sometimes they appear in a string of adjectives, and when they do, they appear in a set order according to category. When indefinite pronouns — such as something, someone, anybody — are modified by an adjective, the adjective comes after the pronoun:

Adjectives can express degrees of modification:

  • Maria is a rich woman, but Jose is richer than Maria, and Emily is the richest woman in town.

The degrees of comparison are known as the positive, the comparative, and the superlative.

comparative for comparing two things

superlative for comparing three or more things. Notice that the word than frequently accompanies the comparative and the word the precedes the superlative.

The inflected suffixes -er and -est suffice to form most comparatives and superlatives, although we need -ier and -iest when a two-syllable adjective ends in y (happier and happiest); otherwise we use more and most when an adjective has more than one syllable.

Positive – rich

Comprarative- richer

Superlative - richest

Certain adjectives have irregular forms in the comparative and superlative degrees:

Irregular comparative and superlative forms:

Good – better – best Response

Order of adjectives

determiner

observation

Physical description

origin

materal

qualifier

noun

Size

shape

Age

colour

Examples:

  1. A big old English horse (determiner –size- age-origin- noun)
  2. An expensive antique silver mirror (determiner – observation – age – material – noun)
  3. Her short black hair ( determiner – shape- color – noun)

It would be folly, of course, to run more than two or three adjectives together. when adjectives belong to the same class, they become what we call coordinated adjectives, and you will want to put a comma between them: the inexpensive, comfortable shoes.

The rule for inserting the comma works this way: if you could have inserted a conjunction — and or but — between the two adjectives, use a comma.

a popular, respected, and good looking student

We could say these are "inexpensive but comfortable shorts," so we would use a comma between them (when the "but" isn't there). When you have three coordinated adjectives, separate them all with commas, but don't insert a comma between the last adjective and the noun (in spite of the temptation to do so because you often pause there):

Capitalizing Proper Adjectives

When an adjective owes its origins to a proper noun, it should probably be capitalized. Thus we write about Christian music, French fries, the English Parliament, the Ming Dynasty. Some periods of time have taken on the status of proper adjectives: the Nixon era, a Renaissance/Romantic/Victorian poet (but a contemporary novelist and medieval writer). Directional and seasonal adjectives are not capitalized unless they're part of a title:

We took the northwest route during the spring thaw. We stayed there until the town's annual Fall Festival of Small Appliances.

Collective Adjectives

When the definite article, the, is combined with an adjective describing a class or group of people, the resulting phrase can act as a noun: the poor, the rich, the oppressed, the homeless, the lonely, the unlettered, the unwashed, the gathered, the dear departed. The difference between a Collective Noun (which is usually regarded as singular but which can be plural in certain contexts) and a collective adjective is that the latter is always plural and requires a plural verb:

  • The rural poor have been ignored by the media.
  • The rich of Connecticut are responsible.
  • The elderly are beginning to demand their rights.
  • The young at heart are always a joy to be around.

Adjectival opposites

The opposite or the negative aspect of an adjective can be formed in a number of ways. One way, of course, is to find an adjective to mean the opposite — an antonym. The opposite of beautiful is ugly, the opposite of tall is short. A thesaurus can help you find an appropriate opposite. Another way to form the opposite of an adjective is with a number of prefixes. The opposite of fortunate is unfortunate, the opposite of prudent is imprudent, the opposite of considerate is inconsiderate, the opposite of honourable is dishonourable, the opposite of alcoholic is non-alcoholic, the opposite of being properly filed is misfiled. If you are not sure of the spelling of adjectives modified in this way by prefixes (or which is the appropriate prefix), you will have to consult a dictionary, as the rules for the selection of a prefix are complex and too shifty to be trusted. The meaning itself can be tricky; for instance, flammable and inflammable mean the same thing.

A third means for creating the opposite of an adjective is to combine it with less or least to create a comparison which points in the opposite direction. Interesting shades of meaning and tone become available with this usage. It is kinder to say that "This is the least beautiful city in the state." than it is to say that "This is the ugliest city in the state." (It also has a slightly different meaning.) A candidate for a job can still be worthy and yet be "less worthy of consideration" than another candidate. It's probably not a good idea to use this construction with an adjective that is already a negative: "He is less unlucky than his brother," although that is not the same thing as saying he is luckier than his brother. Use the comparative less when the comparison is between two things or people; use the superlative least when the comparison is among many things or people.

  • My mother is less patient than my father.
  • Of all the new sitcoms, this is my least favourite show.