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Traditionally, adjectives are defined as words that describe nouns or pronouns.  When they describe nouns or pronouns, adjectives typically answer the following questions:

  What kind?             Which one?             How many?


For example, in the phrase

Tall is an adjective describing the noun man.

Tall answers the question "which man?" or "what kind of man?"


Similarly, in the phrase,

Easy is an adjective describing the noun assignment. 

Easy answers the question, "what kind of assignment?"


Adjectives are usually placed before the nouns they describe, as in the examples, tall man and easy assignment, above.


Thus, one may identify an adjective by using the following word-order test:




Adjectives may also follow the noun they describe.




Finally, adjectives may follow a verb of being or a linking verb, thus completing the noun subject




Like nouns, adjectives are often recognizable by their suffixes.

Endings such as  -ous   -ful  -ish  -able    usually designate adjectives.




Comparative and superlative forms


Single-syllable adjectives use -er and -est endings to designate comparative and superlative forms:





Adjectives of two or more syllables use more and most for comparative and superlative forms.







Two-syllable adjectives ending in -y may also use the -er / -est endings to designate comparative and superlative.





Note:  the following adjectives do not follow the regular rules for forming comparative and superlative forms: good, bad, little, ill. 


To create negative comparative and superlative forms, use


less  for –er


least for est





For further information on these resources, contact
Margaret L. Benner

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