Adjective Phrase

An adjective phrase is a group of words that modifies a noun and is headed by an adjective.

The adjective in the phrase can be placed at the start, in the middle, or at the end of the phrase. It can be placed before, or after, the noun or pronoun in the sentence.

What are Adjective Phrases?


Adjectives modify nouns and and an adjective phrase works in the same way. Take a look at these sentences where the single adjective (in red) has been highlighted. The noun being modified is also highlighted (in blue): 


  • Everyone was very happy  when the show started. 
  • The old book was extremely expensive but worth buying. 
  • John said the price of the ticket was much too high
  • Slower than a tortoise, he came last in the bike race. 
  • Employees upset over their falling wages decided to strike. 
  • The apartment building has quite large and expensive rooms to rent.
  • Her hair was incredibly beautiful to look at. 
  • The highly passionate politician gave a really mesmerising speech
  • Your dinner smells really nice.

Now take a look at exactly the same sentences. The adjective phrase is now underlined and in brackets, and the word modifying the adjective is highlighted in green.

Often it is simply an adverb modifying the adjective, but this is not the case in all of them:


  • Everyone was [very happy] when the show started. 
  • The old book was [extremely expensive] but worth buying. 
  • John said the price of the ticket was [much too high]. 
  • [Slower than a tortoise], he came last in the bike race. 
  • Employees [upset over their falling wages] decided to strike. 
  • The apartment building has [quite large and expensive] rooms to rent.
  • Her hair was [incredibly beautiful] to look at. 
  • The [highly passionate] politician gave a [really mesmerising] speech
  • Your dinner smells [really nice].

Attributive and Predictive Adjective Phrases


You will notice that in some of the examples, the adjective phrase appears before the noun it is modifying. 

When this occurs, it is an attributive adjective phrase. Here are the examples of this from the above sentences:


  • The apartment building has [quite large and expensive] rooms to rent.
  • The [highly passionate] politician gave a [really mesmerising] speech.

However, if it comes after the noun, it is a predictive adjective phrase. They don't appear immediately after the noun, but are placed after the verb. Here are some examples from the sentences above:


  • Everyone was [very happy] when the show started.
  • The old book was [extremely expensive] but worth buying.


Even though the phrase comes after the verb, it is modifying the noun.

Prepositional Phrases as Adjective Phrases


Prepositional phrases can also act as adjective phrases.

They act as adjective phrases when they are used to give additional information about a noun or pronoun in the sentence. They will be telling us which one or what kind.

It is sometimes called an adjective prepositional phrase and it will appear directly after the noun or pronoun that it modifies. 

Take a look at these sentences:


  • Take the taxi.
  • The boy is good at football.
  • Does the guitar belong to you?
  • The large file is mine.
  • The program is very good.
  • I want the candy.
  • We stayed at the hotel.
  • The woman is his wife.

We can then modify the nouns with adjective prepositional phrases:


  • Take the taxi behind the white car.
  • The boy in the red top is good at football.
  • Does the guitar on the floor belong to you?
  • The large file on the bottom shelf is mine.
  • The program after this one is very good.
  • I want the candy in the small jar.
  • We stayed at the hotel by the river.
  • The woman with him is his wife.