Chapter 5
The Adjective

We have learnt that an adjective is a word that describes (qualifies) a noun or pronoun. That is, an adjective is a word used with a noun to add something for its meaning. (Adjective means added to.)

  1. This is a book.
  2. This is a fine book.

In the second sentence the word fine is added. It describes the book. We call it an adjective.
Similarly let us consider the following sentence.
He is young.
The word young describes the person He. young is also an adjective.

Kinds of Adjectives

There are nine kinds of adjectives. They are as follows:

  1. Adjective of quality or Descriptive adjective
  2. Adjective of quantity
  3. Adjective of number or Numeral adjective
  4. Demonstrative adjective
  5. Distributive adjective
  6. Interrogative adjective
  7. Proper adjective
  8. Emphasising adjective
  9. Exclamatory adjective

Adjective of quality or Descriptive adjective

Definition

An adjective of Quality indicates the quality of a person or thing.

Examples

A wild animal, a sick child, a proud man and a long tail.

Explanation

The adjectives answer the question of what kind? What kind of an animal? - ‘a wild animal’ what kind of child? - ‘a sick child’ and so on, we call them Adjectives of Quality.

Adjective of Quantity

Definition

An adjective of quantity indicates the quantity of things.

Examples

  1. He ate some bread.
  2. He has much wealth.
  3. I have enough money.

Explanation

These words some, much and enough indicate the quantity of things. They answer the question How much? How much bread did he eat? –‘He ate some bread.’ They are Adjectives of Quantity.

Numeral Adjective

Definition

A Numeral adjective (Adjective of number) denotes the number of persons or things.

Examples

  1. He has five sons.
  2. I have a few books.
  3. There are many spectators on the ground.

Explanation

The words five, a few and many denotes number. They are Numeral adjectives.

Note:

Numeral adjectives are of two kinds. The word five denotes an exact or a definite number. It is called a definite numeral adjective. The words a few and many indicate numbers, but not definite numbers. They are indefinite numeral adjectives. Words such as few, some, all, several are used as indefinite numeral adjectives.

Demonstrative Adjective

Definition

A Demonstrative adjective points out persons or things.

Examples

  1. That boy is George.
  2. I know these girls.
  3. This book is not mine.

Explanation

That, These and This are adjectives; they also point out things or persons. They are Demonstrative adjectives.
(Such, Same, Such, Same, Yonder are used as Demonstrative adjectives.)

Note:

  1. The Demonstrative adjectives a or an and the are usually called Articles. We will read in detail about Articles further in this chapter.
  2. This and That are the only adjectives that are inflected or changed in form to show number
    This girl sings. These girls sing.
    That boy plays. Those boys play.

This and these indicate something near to the speaker.
That and those indicate more distant objects.

Distributive Adjective

Definition

A Distributive adjective shows the things or persons when taken separately.

Examples

  1. Each man was given a prize.
  2. Every boy had brought his book.
  3. Either book will do.
  4. Neither party is in the right.

Explanation

Each, Every, Either and Neither indicate that the persons or things are taken separately hence they are Distributive adjectives.

Interrogative Adjective

Definition

An Interrogative adjective asks a question.

Examples

1. Whose bag is this?
2. Which cloth do you prefer?
3. What book is that?

Explanation

Whose, Which and What are adjectives. They also ask questions. They are Interrogative adjectives.

Proper Adjective

Definition

A proper adjective is formed from a proper Noun.

Examples

1. This is Indian coffee.
2. Here is a Japanese toy.

Explanation

The word Indian is formed from the proper Noun India and it is used as an adjective; so also the adjective Japanese. They are Proper adjectives.

Emphasising Adjective

Definition

An Emphasising adjective emphasises the quality of the Noun.

Examples

  1. I saw it with my own eyes.
  2. This is the very thing I had lost.

Explanation

The adjectives own and very are used for emphasis. They are Emphasising adjectives.

Exclamatory Adjective

Definition

A word that is used to express an exclamation is an Exclamatory adjective.

Examples

  1. What genius!
  2. What folly!
  3. What an idea!
  4. What a blessing!
  5. What a piece of work is this lady!

Explanation

In the above examples, the word What is used to describe (in this case exclaim) the genius, the folly, the idea, the blessing and the lady respectively. Here, What is an Exclamatory adjective.

Comparison of Adjectives.

  1. Akbhar was a great emperor.
  2. He was greater than any other Mughal ruler.
  3. He was the greatest of all Mughals.

The adjective great denotes a quality.
The adjective greater denotes a higher degree of the same quality.
The adjective greatest denotes the highest degree of the quality.

The first is positive degree.
The second is comparative degree.
The third is superlative degree.
These are the degrees of comparison.

Formation of comparative and superlative.

1. By adding ‘more’ and ‘most’ in the case of adjectives that have more than two syllables.


Positive

Comparative

Superlative

Famous

More famous

Most famous

Beautiful

More beautiful

Most beautiful

Difficult

More difficult

Most difficult

Useful

More useful

Most useful

2. By adding ‘er’ and ‘est’ to the positive.


Positive

Comparative

Superlative

Small

Smaller

Smallest

Great

Greater

Greatest

Tall

Taller

Tallest

Bright

Brighter

Brightest

Fast

Faster

Fastest

3. By doubling the consonant and adding ‘er’ and ‘est’.


Positive 

Comparative 

Superlative

Fat

Fatter 

Fattest

Hot

Hotter

Hottest

Thin

Thinner

Thinnest

Glad

Gladder

Gladdest

4. By changing ‘y’ into ‘I’ and adding ‘er’ and ‘est’.


Positive

Comparative

Superlative

Happy

Happier

Happiest

Early

Earlier

Earliest

5. Sometimes there are irregular comparisons as they form their comparative and superlative in an irregular way.


Positive

Comparative

Superlative

Good

Better

Best

Little

Less

Least

Much

More

Most

Hind

Hinder

Hindmost

Far

Farther

Farthest

Up

Upper

Uppermost

Latin Adjectives

Superior, inferior, junior, posterior (later than), anterior (earlier than) are adjectives that must be followed by ‘to’ and not ‘than’.
Thus for example, we should say, ‘He is senior to me’ and not ‘His senior than me.’

Similarly-

  1.  This pen is superior to that.
  2.  Govind is junior to Rahim, etc.
    These adjectives have no superlative.

Adjectives used as Nouns

In some situations the adjectives are used as Nouns.
Let us consider the following sentences.

  1.  The priest is kind to the poor.
  2. The weak deserve our sympathy.

In the above sentences the poor means the poor people, the weak means the weak people. Here, these words, ordinarily adjectives, are used as Nouns.

Note:

When an adjective is used as a Noun it is preceded by the definite article the. It is wrong to say The priest is kind to poor.

Nouns used as adjectives

Sometimes Nouns are also used as adjectives.
Let us consider the following sentences.

  1. Stone walls do not make a prison.
  2. He stood on the housetop.
  3. The city gates are closed.

In the above sentences, the words stone, house and city are used as adjectives although under normal circumstances they are Nouns.

Position of the Adjectives

  1. A single adjective is generally placed immediately before the Noun.

Examples

  1. Gandhi was a great man.
  2. She was very proud of her long hair.
  1. When several adjectives are attached to one Noun, they are generally placed after it for emphasis.

Examples

  1. I could see his hair dark and thick.
  2. The soldier fearless and resolute advanced towards the enemy.
  1. In poetry, the adjective is frequently placed after the Noun.

Examples

  1. Children dear, how I missed you all the year!
  2. A man with sisters dear.
  1. In certain phrases the adjective always comes after the Noun

Examples

Heir apparent, time immemorial, Lord paramount, President elect, letters patent, notary public, body politic, God Almighty etc.

The correct use of some adjectives

Some, any

Let us consider the following sentences.

  1. I will buy some vegetables.
  2. I will not buy any vegetable.
  3. Have you bought any vegetables?
  4. If you need any money let me know.
  5. Will you have some coffee? (offer)
  6. Could you give me some help? (request)
  7. Did you buy some books for me? (I expect you did)

Explanation

Some is used normally to express quantity or degree like in the first sentence.
Any is used in negative or interrogative sentences as shown in the second and third sentences.
Any can also be used in affirmative sentences after if as shown in the fourth sentence.
Some is also used in interrogative sentences if the expected answer to the questions is "yes" as shown in the fifth, sixth and seventh sentences.

Each, every

Let us consider the following sentences.

  1. Every seat was taken.
  2. Six girls were seated in each row.
  3. Every one of the chairs was broken.
  4. We get our salary on the 2nd of every month.
  5. Every two days I have to see the doctor.

Explanation

Each and every are almost similar in meaning but every means each without exception and hence is a stronger expression. Each is used in speaking of two or more things while every is used only in speaking of more than two. Each refers to the individuals in the group while every refers to the whole group. Each is used when the number in the group is limited and definite while every is used when the number is indefinite.

Little, a little, the little

Let us consider the following sentences.

  1. There is little hope of his recovery. (He is not likely to recover)
  2. There is a little hope of his recovery. (He may possibly recover)
  3. The little hope we had of his recovery was lost when the ambulance did not arrive on time. (We had some hope but not much hope of his recovery and even that was lost when the ambulance did not arrive on time.)

Note:

Little: not much (hardly any), thus the adjective little has a negative meaning.
A little: some though not much. ‘A little’ has a positive meaning.
The little: not much but all there is.

Few, a few, the few

Let us consider the following sentences.

  1. In our village few people speak English correctly. (Nobody speaks English correctly in our village.)
  2. In our village a few people speak English correctly. (There are some-indefinite number- people in our village who speaks English correctly.)
  3. The few people who speak English correctly in our village are highly respected. (There are some-definite number- people who speak correct English in our village and those-only those- people are highly respected.)

Note:

Few: hardly any. Few has a negative meaning.
A few: some. A few has a positive meaning as opposed to few.
The few: not many but all that there are.

The article

Definition

The Articles are the Demonstrative adjectives a or an and the.

Examples

  1. I eat a mango.
  2. Take an umbrella with you.
  3. He bathed in the river.

A and an are indefinite articles while the is the definite article.

Use of the definite article

  1. When we speak of a particular thing or person.

Examples

  1. He left the house.
  2. I like the book.
  1. When we use a Noun in a singular but denote the whole class.

Example
The cow is a tame animal.

  1. When the adjective is in the superlative degree.

Example

Tagore is the greatest poet of recent times.

  1. With the manes of rivers, mountains, oceans and seas.

Examples

  1. The Ganges is a sacred river.
  2. The Himalayas protect India.
  3. Italy juts into the Mediterranean.
  1. With the names of famous books.

Examples

  1. The Ramayana is a sacred book.
  2. The bible is translated into all languages.
  1. When the adjectives are used as Nouns.

Examples

  1. The poor are taken care of.
  2. The rich are derided.
  1. With common Nouns that are unique.

Examples

  1. The moon is bright.
  2. The sun is a burning mass.
  3. The earth is smaller than the sun.
  1. When a proper Noun is used as a common Noun.

Example

Kamaraj is the Nehru of Tamil Nadu.

Use of the Indefinite Article

  1. When a means one.

Examples

  1. Twelve inches make a foot.
  2. Not a word was said.
  3. A word to the wise is sufficient.
  4. A bird in hand is worth two in the bush.
  1. In the vague sense of a certain.

Examples

  1. A Ram (a certain person named Ram) was suspected to be invoved in the crime.
  2. This morning a beggar came to my door.
  1. To single out an individual, in the sense of any, as the representative of a class.

Examples

  1. A pupil should obey his teacher.
  2. A cow is a useful animal.
  1. To make a common noun of a proper noun.

Examples

  1. A Daniel came to judgement! (A Daniel means a very wise man)
  2. A David took up the challenge! (A David means a very small man)

Omission of the Article

In some cases, the Article is omitted as shown below.

  1. Before names of substances and abstract nouns used in a general sense.

Examples

  1. Sugar is bad for your teeth.
  2. Gold is a precious metal.
  3. Wisdom is the gift of heaven.
  4. Honesty is the best policy.
  5. Virtue is its own reward.

Note:

Uncountable Nouns take the when used in a particular sense .

Examples

  1. Would you pass me the sugar?
  2. The wisdom of solomon is great.
  3. I can not forget the kindness with which he treated me.
  1. Before plural countable nouns used in a general sense.

Examples

  1. Children like chocolates.
  2. Computers are now found everywhere.

Note:
Nouns as in the above examples take the when used with a particular meaning.
Examples

  1. Where are the children? (means our children)
  2. Where are the computers?
  1. Before most Proper Nouns

Examples

  1. Ram went to school.
  2. Nagpur is in India.
  3. Mount Everest is the highest peak in the world.
  1. Before languages.

Examples

  1. We are studying English.
  2. They speak French at Home.
  1. Before school, college, church, bed, table, hospital, market, prison etc when these places are visited or used for their primary purposes.

Examples

  1. I learnt grammar at school.
  2. We go to church on Sundays.
  3. He goes to bed very late every night.
  4. My brother is in hospital.

Note:

The is used with the above words when we refer to them as a definite place, building or object rather than to the normal activity that goes on there.

Examples

  1. The school is very near my house.
  2. We meet at the church.
  3. The bed is broken.
  4. I went to the hospital to see my brother.
  1. Before names of relations, like father, mother, aunt, uncle and also cook, nurse etc, meaning our cook, nurse etc.

Examples

  1. Father has returned from work.
  2. Aunt wants to see you.
  3. Cook has left our service.
  1. Before Predicative Nouns denoting a unique position such as those that are normally held at one time by one person only.

Examples

  1. He was elected chairman of the board.
  2. He became Principal of the college at the age of 30.
  1. In certain phrases consisting of a transitive verb followed by its object.

Examples

To catch fire, to take breath, to give battle, to cast anchor, to send word, to bring word, to give ear etc.

  1. In certain phrases consisting of a preposition followed by its object.

    Examples
    At Home, in hand, in debt, by day, by night, at daybreak, at sunrise, at noon, at sunset, at night, at anchor etc.

Parsing of Adjectives

To parse an adjective state its

Kind. 2. Degree and 3. Construction.

Parsing model

The foolish crow tried to sing.
Foolish: Adjective of quality. Positive degree, qualifies the Noun crow.