What are Adjectives?

Person taking notes
Know Your Adjectives. Yuri Nunes / EyeEm/Getty Images

What are Adjectives?

Adjectives are words that describe objects, people and places.

She has a fast car. -> "Fast" describes the car.
Susan is very intelligent.-> "Intelligent" describes Susan.
That's a beautiful mountain. -> "Beautiful" describes mountain.

In other words, adjectives describe characteristics of different things.  There are nine types of adjectives which are explained below. Each type of adjective includes a link to further details of the particular grammar usage.

Descriptive Adjectives

Descriptive adjectives are the most common type of adjective and are used to describe a certain quality such as large, small, expensive, cheap, etc. of the object. When using more than one descriptive adjective, it is important to make sure that they are placed in the correct adjective order.

Jennifer has a difficult job.
That sad boy needs some ice cream.
Susan purchased an expensive car.

Proper Adjectives

Proper adjectives are derived from proper nouns and must always be capitalized. Proper adjectives are often used to show the origin of something. Proper adjectives are also often the name of a language or a people. 

French tires are excellent.
Italian food is the best!
Jack prefers Canadian maple syrup.

Quantitative Adjectives

Quantitative adjectives show us how many of something is available. In other words, numbers are quantitative adjectives. However, there are other quantitative adjectives such as several, many, a lot of which are also known as quantifiers.

There are two birds in that tree.
She has many friends in Los Angeles.
I count sixteen mistakes on your homework.

Interrogative Adjectives

Interrogative adjectives are used to ask questions. Interrogative adjectives include which and what. Common phrases using interrogative adjectives include: "Which type / kind of" and "what type / kind of" plus a noun.

 

Which kind of car do you drive?
What time should I come?
What type of ice cream do you like?

Possessive Adjectives

Possessive adjectives are similar to subject and object pronouns, but they indicate possession. Possessive adjectives include my, your, his, her, its, our, and their

My house is on the corner.
I invited their friends to dinner.
Her dog is very friendly.

Possessive Nouns

Possessive nouns act like possessive adjectives but are formed by using a noun. Possessive nouns are created by adding an apostrophe to a noun to indicate possession such as the car's color, or the friends' vacations.

Tom's best friend is Peter.
The book's cover is misleading.
The house's garden is beautiful.

Predicate Adjectives

Predicate adjectives are placed at the end of a sentence or clause to describe the noun at the beginning of a sentence. Predicate adjectives are often used with the verb "to be."

His job is stressful.
The vacation was enjoyable.
It probably isn't very easy.

Articles

Definite and indefinite articles can be thought of as a type of adjective because they describe the noun as one of many or a specific instance of a particular object.  A and an are indefinite articles, the is the definite article.

Tom would like an apple.
She wrote the book that's on the table.
I ordered a glass of beer.

Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns show which objects (noun or noun phrase) is meant. Demonstrative pronouns include this, that, these and thoseThis and that are singular demonstrative adjectives, while these and those are plural. Demonstrative pronouns are also known as determiners.

I would like that sandwich for lunch.
Andrew brought these books for everyone to read.
Those trees are beautiful!

Adjectives Quiz

Find the adjective and identify its form. Choose from:

  • descriptive adjective
  • proper adjective
  • quantitative adjective
  • interrogative adjective
  • possessive adjective
  • possessive noun
  • predicate adjective
  • demonstrative pronoun

 

  1. I gave the ball to her cousin.
  2. Education is important.
  3. They have a beautiful daughter.
  4. Which kind of car did you decide to buy yesterday?
  5. Those cars belong to Peter.
  6. She has a lot of friends in China.
  1. Chicago is amazing!
  2. Jennifer proposed an elegant solution to the problem.
  3. What kind of grades did you get?
  4. Helen's house is located in Georgia. 
  5. Italian food is the best!
  6. Holidays can be boring at times. 
  7. Alex has three books.
  8. It's a hot day.
  9. Our friend didn't answer the question.

Answers:

  1. her - possessive adjective
  2. important - pronominal adjective
  3. beautiful - descriptive adjective
  4. which kind of - interrogative adjective
  5. those - demonstrative pronoun
  6. a lot of - quantitative adjective
  7. amazing - pronominal adjective
  8. elegant - descriptive adjective
  9. what kind of - interrogative adjective
  10. Helen's - possessive noun
  11. Italian - proper adjective
  12. boring - pronominal adjective
  13. three - quantitative adjective
  14. hot - descriptive adjective
  15. our - possessive adjective