Adjectives describe nouns. In fact we say that adjectives modify nouns. Adjectives give us more information about a noun.
Mark and Jane are carrying a heavy chair.
(The adjective “heavy” is describing the noun “chair“. It gives us more information about the chair by indicating its weight.)
The form of the adjective is the same for singular nouns and plural nouns. In English, there is no “agreement” between a noun and an adjective. This is very different to many other European languages, like French for example.
Jane is holding a red apple.
There are some red apples on the plate.
There are some reds apples on the plate.
Position of adjectives
Broadly speaking, there are 2 types of position in a sentence for adjectives:
Before a noun (attributive position)
There is a small dog in the garden.
I have some new shoes.
After link verbs (predicative position)
Examples of link verb: appear, be, become, feel, get, look, seem, smell, taste.
The car is old.
Jane is feeling cold.
The flower smells nice.
Adjectives after a link verb function as a subject complement. This means that the adjective after the linking verb is giving us more information about the subject of the sentence.
Most adjectives are used in both positions.
Certain adjectives are used only in the attributive position.
Certain adjectives are used only in the predicative position.
Adjectives that are used only before the noun
elder, eldest, live, main
These adjectives are used only before the noun (attributive position):
My elder sister is a teacher.
There is a live fish in the aquarium.
I crossed the main road.
These adjectives are not used after a link verb (predicative position):
My sister is elder.
The fish seems live.
The road is main.
Adjectives used only after a link verb
afraid, alone, ashamed, asleep, awake
These adjectives are used only after a link verb (predicative position)
He seems afraid.
She is alone for Christmas.
He feels ashamed.
The baby is asleep.
She is awake.
These adjectives are not used before the noun (attributive position)
The afraid man….
The alone woman…..
The ashamed man…
The asleep baby…..
The awake girl…..
After “find” / “make” / “keep” + object
The adjective is placed at the end of the following structure as shown:
“find” or “make” or “keep” + object + adjective
He found the article interesting.
Alcohol makes him tired.
Coffee keeps me awake.
The adjective functions as an object complement. This means that the adjective is giving us more information about the object of the sentence.
Adjectives are always placed after certain words
Adjectives always go after (not before) these words:
anything, everything, nothing, something
anywhere, everywhere, nowhere, somewhere
anybody, everybody, nobody, somebody
Did you do anything exciting yesterday?
I want to go somewhere quiet.
There wasn’t anybody famous at the party.
Adjectives without nouns
“the” + adjective
We use the expression “the” + adjective to describe certain groups of people.
The meaning is general. We are generalising.
The expression is always plural in meaning. We are referring to all members of the group.
Example: The unemployed
The unemployed think that the government is ignoring them.
“the unemployed” is referring to all unemployed people. Notice the form of the verb “think” – It is in the third person plural form because “the unemployed” is considered to be plural.
Mark often gives money to the poor.
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