Types of Adjective and Examples

This lesson examines types of adjective and examples. Adjectives modify nouns and they usually come before a noun, though this it not always the case.  

They answer questions such asWhat kind? Which one? How many? How much? What's it like?

For example:

Example Adjectives:

  • She's an intelligent girl. (Q: what kind of girl is she?)
  • The weather was very warm. (Q: what was the weather like?)
  • I prefer the cheap car (Q: which one do you prefer?)
  • I have around fifteen batteries. (Q: How many batteries do you have?)

However, they don't all answer questions such as this as there are different types. So we'll now look at the various types of adjective with examples. In the examples, the noun will be in blue and the adjective in red. 

There is some crossover with the categories above, with some adjectives that can be placed in more than one of the above types. 

Types of Adjective and Examples

Descriptive Adjectives


Descriptive adjectives (also called Qualitative Adjectives) can be seen as the broad category into which most adjectives fall. They are the type of adjective that most of us think of when we think of an 'adjective'. 

They describe nouns and pronouns in terms of their specific traits, features and qualities. They commonly relate to the question 'what kind of....'. 

They can be categorised into three types.

Attributive Adjectives

Attributive adjectives are those that appear directly beside the noun, usually before but also immediately after. They attribute a quality to the noun they modify. More than one adjective can modify the same noun.

  • He is a very wealthy man.
  • It was a beautiful, bright day.
  • This is a gold watch
  • The open windows made the room cold. (i.e. It was a cold room)

More examples of attributive adjectives >>

Predicate Adjectives

Predicate Adjectives appear after a linking verb (check what linking verbs are in our types of verbs lesson). Examples of linking verbs are 'is', 'appear', 'seem'. 

They modify the subject of the sentence or clause, which is the part of a sentence which contains a subject and a predicate.

  • That dress is expensive.
  • Those burgers were fattening.
  • She seems happy.
  • He appears concerned.

Participle Adjectives

If participles modify nouns, they are adjectives. Participles are words that usually end in -ed or -ing and derive from verbs. For example:

  • Verb: cry
  • Past Participle: cried
  • Present Participle: crying

So two of the examples we looked at above derive from participles:

  • Those burgers were fattening.
  • He appears concerned

Here are some more examples:

  • She cuddled the crying baby.
  • I bought some new running shoes
  • She was really excited.
  • I want a vaccinated cat, not one that has not been vaccinated.
  • The lesson was really boring.
  • He lives in a rented house.

Numeral Adjectives


Numeral adjectives tell us about how many, how much, or what order. This type of adjective can be categorised into three: 

  • Definite
  • Indefinite 
  • Distributive

Definite Adjectives

Definite numeral adjectives are used to show exact numbers. These types of adjective include: 

  • Cardinals (One, two, three, four, etc.)
  • Ordinals (First, second, third, fourth, etc.)
  • Multiplicatives (Single, double, triple, quadruple, etc.)

Cardinal adjectives are used to answer the questions of ‘how much’ and ‘how many’. Ordinal adjectives describe the order of something. Multiplicative adjectives denote how many fold, as in single, double, triple, etc. 

Here are some examples;

Cardinals:

  • He decided to buy six apples.
  • I have four children.
  • They have 20 pounds

Ordinals:

  • Neil Armstrong was the first person to walk on the moon.
  • The third film in the trilogy was the best.

Multiplicatives:

  • They booked a double room.
  • Not a single person has volunteered for the program.

Indefinite Adjectives

Indefinite numeral adjectives are used to answer questions such as 'how many' and 'how much' but in a non-specific way.

This is through words such as few, several, many, some, much, most, all.

  • There are several reasons for going. 
  • Only a few people attended the play.
  • Many prisoners end up reoffending after release.
  • I'd like some water

Distributive Adjectives

Distributive adjectives are sometimes categorised under indefinite adjectives as they again are not always referring to nouns in a specific way. However, they are a sub-category as in this case they are used to refer to members of a group as individuals.

Distributive adjectives are: each, every, either, neither, any, one, both, none.

  • Each student was asked to choose a different topic. 
  • I spoke to every person in the room. 
  • Do you have any pound coins you can give me?
  • Both of the tables are too big for the room. 
  • I don't want either of the pictures in my house. 
  • None of the children could speak English well. 
  • Which one (of the cookies) do you want?

Demonstrative Adjectives


Demonstrative adjectives include the words: this, that, these, those. These types of adjective are used to point out which person or thing is being referred to. 

Learn more about demonstrative adjectives and take a demonstrative adjectives quiz

  • These trousers are too tight. 
  • That film was amazing.
  • I'm tired of having this problem
  • Those people are being too noisy. 

Possessive Adjectives


Possessive adjectives are used with nouns to talk about possession and ownership. They are: my, your, his, her, its, our, their. 

  • Those are my books
  • His house is worth a lot of money.
  • Is that your wallet
  • Our meeting has finished already.  

Proper Adjectives


Proper adjectives are the adjective form of proper nouns.

A proper noun begins with a capital letter and is the name of a particular person, place, organisation, or thing e.g. 'James', 'Paris', and the 'Labour Party'.

When proper nouns modify or describe other nouns/pronouns, they become proper adjectives

The purpose of this type of adjective is to enable us to summarise a concept in just one word. So instead of ‘a food cooked in Mexico’ we can say ‘Mexican food’.

  • I love Italian food. 
  • British people often comment on the weather.
  • He is a Marxist philosopher
  • He's a fan of American football.  
  • I like KFC chicken the most.

Interrogative Adjectives


Interrogative adjectives are question words that modify nouns or noun phrases. They can't stand on their own (unlike interrogative pronouns) and so they are classed as adjectives.

They are: whose, which, and what.

  • Which university are you going to choose? 
  • What film do you want to watch?
  • Whose pen is this? 

Degrees of Adjectives


This refers to three types of adjectives:

  • Positive
  • Comparative
  • Superlative

These types of adjective also fall under the umbrella of descriptive adjectives.

Positive

The term positive refers to the fact that these adjectives (unlike the two that follow - comparative and superlative) do not make comparisons between two or more nouns.

  • The sky looks beautiful. 
  • The car is very old.
  • He is a good person.

Comparative

Comparative adjectives make comparison between two or more people or objects or are used to indicate change. 

  • George studies harder than Tom.
  • We need a bigger house.
  • Things in the shops are getting more expensive. 

Superlative

Superlative adjectives are used to point to a noun that has the most extreme quality or attributes amongst three (or more) other nouns.

  • Of all the students in my class, I think George studies the hardest.  
  • I have two sisters. Jane is the oldest and Katrina is the youngest.
  • This film is the most interesting I've ever seen.

Compound Adjectives


Compound adjectives join more than one word into a single lexical unit, which then modifies a noun. They are usually (though not always) separated by a hyphen or joined by quotation marks.

Some of them begin with a number and end with a noun. The unit as a whole though is still classed as an adjective. 

  • It is a 200-page report
  • An 8-foot-long sofa won't fit in the room. 
  • They are going on a three-week break.
  • There was a record-breaking amount of snow.
  • His all too familiar complaining was starting to wear thin.
  • He has a "whatever" attitude to life.

Articles


As articles are modifying nouns, they are a type of adjective. a and an are indefinite articles and the is definite. 

The is used before a noun to show that the identity of the noun is known. A and an are used before a noun that is not known or a noun that is general.

  • the can be placed before a singular or plural noun
  • a comes before a singular noun beginning with a consonant sound
  • an comes before a singular noun beginning with a vowel sound
  • Let's read a book together. 
  • Have you got a bike
  • He made an excuse.
  • The government is going to enact the policy

Now test yourself in this Types of Adjective Exercise >>






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