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What Is an Adjective?

The simplest definition of an adjective is that it is a word that describes or clarifies a noun.
Adjectives describe nouns by giving some information about an objects size, shape, age,
color, origin or material.

Its a big table. (size)

Its a round table. (shape)
Its an old table. (age)
Its a brown table. (color)
Its an English table. (origin)
Its a wooden table. (material)
Its a lovely table. (opinion)
Its a broken table. (observation)
Its a coffee table. (purpose)

When an item is defined by its purpose, that word is usually not an adjective, but it acts as
one in that situation.

coffee table
pool hall
hunting cabin
baseball player

What Do Adjectives Look Like?

English can be very tricky, so you have to be careful, but a lot of English adjectives end with
these suffixes:

-able/-ible adorable, invisible, responsible, uncomfortable

-al educational, gradual, illegal, nocturnal, viral
-an American, Mexican, urban
-ar cellular, popular, spectacular, vulgar
-ent intelligent, potent, silent, violent
-ful harmful, powerful, tasteful, thoughtful
-ic/-ical athletic, energetic, magical, scientific
-ine bovine, canine, equine, feminine, masculine
-ile agile, docile, fertile, virile
-ive informative, native, talkative
-less careless, endless, homeless, timeless
-ous cautious, dangerous, enormous, malodorous
-some awesome, handsome, lonesome, wholesome

Many adjectives also end with -y, -ary and -ate, but lots of nouns and adverbs also end with -
y, lots of nouns also end with -ary, and lots of nouns and verbs also end with -ate, so be
careful with those.
Where Do Adjectives Go in a Sentence?

If you come across a word that ends in -y, -ary or -ate (or any other suffix for that matter),
and you want to know whether its an adjective or not, just look at where it is and what its
doing in the sentence. If it comes immediately before a noun, and especially if it comes
between an article (a, an, the), a possessive adjective (my, his, her, its, your, our, their), a
demonstrative (this, that, these, those) or an amount (some, most, all, a few) and a noun, then
its probably an adjective.

The grassy field was wet with dew. Grassy comes between an article (the) and a noun
(field), so you know its an adjective.
These are my old trophies. Old comes between a possessive adjective (my) and a noun
(trophies), making it an adjective.
We had a few ordinary days. Ordinary comes between an amount (a few) and a noun
(days), so its definitely an adjective.
Did you see that immaculate kitchen? Immaculate comes between a demonstrative
(that) and a noun (kitchen), so it must be an adjective.

Adjectives also act as complements. Complements are words that complete the predicate of a
sentence when the verb is be.

He is tall.
Weve been teachers for five years.
You were my best friend.
He was smart, handsome and rich.

As you can see, not all complements are adjectives. In these examples, tall and smart,
handsome and rich are adjectives, but teachers for five years and my best friend are both
noun phrases. If the complement is only one word, theres a good chance its an adjective.
Also if the complement is a list of words, those are probably also adjectives. If an article (a,
an, the) or a possessive (my, his, her, its, your, our, their, mine, his, hers, its, yours, ours,
theirs) is involved, its a noun phrase.

Whats the Correct Order for Multiple Adjectives?

When you list several adjectives in a row, theres a specific order they need to be written or
spoken. Native speakers of English tend to put them in the correct order naturally, but if
youre learning English, youll have to memorize the order. It goes like this:

Determiner This means an article (a, an, the), a number or amount, a possessive adjective
(my, his, her, its, your, our, their), or a demonstrative (this, that, these, those).
Observation/Opinion Beautiful, expensive, gorgeous, broken, delicious, ugly
Size Huge, tiny, 4-foot-tall
Shape Square, circular, oblong
Age 10-year-old, new, antique
Color Black, red, blue-green
Origin Roman, English, Mongolian
Material Silk, silver, plastic, wooden
Qualifier A noun or verb acting as adjective
This is the correct order for adjectives that come directly before a noun, and they are
separated by commas.

My beautiful, big, circular, antique, brown, English, wooden coffee table was broken in the

If the adjectives come after the verb be as the complement, then the qualifier will stick with
the noun at the beginning of the sentence. The adjectives in the complement are separated by
commas with the final two being separated by and. For example, My coffee table is
beautiful, big, circular, antique, brown, English and wooden.
What Is a Noun?
The definition of a noun used to be so simple. You may even remember your elementary
school teachers telling you a noun was a person, place or thing. Then it got a little more
complicated when they added idea to the list. Then it got even more confusing when you
asked about coffee in coffee table. Is it a noun or an adjective? What about when you add
an apostrophe and s to it to show possession? Is it still a noun, or does it become an
adjective? And round and round you go. Its exhausting, but there are answers.

Defining a Noun

There are a lot of definitions for noun, from the simple list to the complex linguistic
explanation, but the best way to explain what a noun is is to explain what a noun does.
Remember when you read that verbs do verb-y things? Well, here are the noun-y things that
nouns do:

They come with articles. If it follows "a," "an" or "the" fairly closely, its probably a noun. If
theres an adjective in there, itll be between the article and the noun, so youll have to ask
yourself, Is this something I can feel, see, smell, taste or touch? Or does it describe
something I can feel, see, smell, taste or touch? If its the former, its a noun. If its the
latter, its probably an adjective.
They are described by adjectives. If something is described as being blue, old, shiny, hot or
wonderful (all adjectives), its probably a noun.
They act as subjects. Generally, the subject of a sentence is the thing that comes right before
the verb. When you say, The Dingo ate my baby, the subject is the Dingo. It comes right
before the verb (ate). Subjects are a little tricky because they can consist of just one word or
a whole, long phrase that can contain several nouns. Gerund and infinitive verbs can also act
as subjects of a sentence, but in that role, they are serving as nouns. Why? Because nouns
act as subjects.
They act as objects and complements. Complements follow state-of-being verbs like be,
seem and become. Objects follow other verbs as well as prepositions. In the sentence,
Amy is a teacher, the complement is a teacher. In the sentence, Billy hit a teacher, the
object is a teacher. In the sentence, I am sitting near a teacher, the prepositional object
is a teacher. In all cases, teacher is a noun.
They are names. All names of all things (people, cities, towns, counties, states, countries,
buildings, monuments, rivers, mountains, lakes, oceans, streams, natural disasters, books,
plays, magazines, articles, songs, works of art, etc.) are nouns.

Not all nouns do all of these things all of the time, and not all the words that do some of these
things are nouns, but by and large, if it looks like a noun and acts like a noun, its probably a

Noun Gender

In English, most nouns are not inherently male or female like they are in many other
languages. However, there are a few nouns that do indicate masculinity/femininity:


Plural Nouns

Most English nouns can be made plural simply by adding an "s" to them, but there are a few

Nouns whose singular forms end in s, z, x, ch or sh need es to become plural (boss-bosses,

box-boxes, watch-watches, bush-bushes).
Certain nouns that end in o also need es to become plural (potato-potatoes, hero-heroes,
For nouns that end in f or fe, change the f to a v, and add es (knife-knives, wolf-wolves).
If a singular noun ends in a single consonant followed by y, change the y to i, and add es
(lady-ladies, spy-spies).

Common vs. Proper Nouns

Common nouns are simply things that exist in mass quantities whereas proper nouns are
names of specific things. For example, building is a common noun. There are millions of
them in the world. Theyre common. However the Empire State Building is the name of one
specific building. Theres only one, and thats its name. Its a proper noun.

Common nouns are not capitalized (unless they begin a sentence, of course), but proper
nouns are always capitalized.

Count vs. Non-Count Nouns

Count (or countable) nouns are nouns that can be counted and therefore made plural. You can
have just one eye, but more likely, you have two eyes. One eye, two eyes you can count

Non-count (or non-countable/uncountable) nouns are those that we do not generally pluralize.
Most liquids, powders and grains fall into this category. Even though there are many corn
flakes in your bowl, you say you eat cereal for breakfast, not cereals. And you put sugar on it,
not sugars, and you drink coffee with it, not coffees.

We sometimes pluralize non-count nouns when we are referring to the container or form in
which they come. You order two coffees (one for you, one for your friend), but what you
really mean is two cups of coffee. Youre counting the cups, not the liquid.
Concrete vs. Abstract Nouns

Concrete nouns are those that can be perceived with the five senses. If you can see, taste,
smell, touch and/or hear it, its a concrete noun. If its a concept or idea (love, peace, hate,
justice) that cannot be perceived physically, its an abstract noun.

Possessive Nouns

Possessive nouns can function in the same way as possessive adjectives and pronouns, but
possessive nouns are simply nouns with s or at the end to show possession. Theyre still
nouns, but they function as adjectives or pronouns depending on how you use them.

A noun is any word that does one or more of these noun-y things.
What Is an Adverb?
Many people are uncertain about the purpose of an adverb. As a result, grammatical mistakes
get made. In fact, adjective and adverb errors are so common, you may come across them
every day and not even be aware that you are hearing or reading one.

Defining an Adverb

An adverb is a word that describes - or modifies, as grammarians put it - a verb, an adjective

or another adverb.

A verb is an action word (jump, run, swim, ski, fish, talk)

An adjective is a descriptive word that describes a noun (pretty, happy, silly, sunny)
A noun is a person, place or thing (girl, dog, mom)

It is easy to see how adverbs describe, or modify, verbs, since they simply explain most about
the action. For example:

He quickly runs
She slowly walks
He happily chatters

Adverbs can also describe adjectives or other adverbs. They provide more information about
that other descriptive word. For example:

He very quickly runs. In this sentence, quickly is an adverb describing the word runs. Very is
another adverb, this time describing the word quickly.

The very pretty girl sat down. In this sentence, pretty is an adjective describing the noun girl.
Very is an adverb describing the adjective pretty.

Identifying an Adverb

You can tell whether or not a word is an adverb by considering its function in the sentence. If
it is describing one of those three parts of speech- a verb, adjective or other adverb- it is an

You can also tell whether something is an adverb by looking at the ending of the word. A lot
of adverbs - not all, but a lot - end in ly. For example, happily, quickly, speedily, steadily,
foolishly, and angrily are all adverbs. So, if you said:

He happily runs.

You can tell that happily is an adverb because it is describing the word runs and because it
ends in ly.

Many frequency words are adverbs as well. For example, very, much, more and many can all
be adverbs.
The very pretty girl was in the car.
The much smarter boy won the race.

Common Errors with Adverbs and Adjectives

People often mistakenly use adjectives when they should use an adverb and vice versa. For
example, a sentence that reads:

He behaved very bad on the field trip.

Is incorrect, because bad is modifying or describing behaved, which is a verb. It should read

He behaved very badly.

On the other hand, if you said:

His behavior is bad.

That would be correct, because in this case, the word bad is an adjective describing the noun

Good and Well

Confusing adverbs and adjectives is a common error with the words good and well.

Good is an adjective that should modify nouns (the good boy).

Well is an adverb that modifies a verb (he listens well), or even an adjective (the well
educated boy).

To practice, identify the adverb in each of the following sentences.

1. Jim will miss the many wonderful people at work.

2. Joe walked slowly and steadily up the hill.
3. Becky ate quickly and then felt sick.
4. Joe is very late.
5. Clark wanted to be the great big house.


1. Jim will miss the many wonderful people at work. Many is the adverb, which modifies the
adjective wonderful, which modifies the noun people.
2. Joe walked slowly and steadily up the hill. Slowly and steadily are both adverbs here,
describing the way Joe walked.
3. Becky ate quickly and then felt sick. Quickly is the adverb here, modifying the verb ate.
4. Joe is very late. Very is an adverb modifying late which is an adjective modifying Joe.
5. Clark wanted to be the great big house. Great is an adverb modifying big which is an
adjective modifying house.
Now that you know what an adverb is, you will be able to avoid making adjective/adverb
mistakes, and youll be able to properly describe all of your actions from here on out. Now,
go and happily brag to your friends all about your new knowledge.
What Is a Verb?
What is a verb? Songs, poems and language teachers throughout history have attempted to
explain verbs to us. A verb is an action word, Luv Is a Verb, Everythings a Verb, where does
it end? The concept of verbs is sort of a tricky one to grasp, and then once you do, verbs only
get more confusing. But lets just start with the basics and go from there, shall we?

Defining a Verb

A brilliant professor once said that a verb is a word that does verb-y things. He said the
same thing about nouns (they do noun-y things) and other parts of speech as well, and while
its not a very concrete or satisfying definition, its probably the best one out there.

You see, the way English works is that every word sits in a specific place and plays a specific
role in a sentence. And even though a word might not really even be a real word, if its
playing the role of the verb, then its a verb. Look at these examples:

As I phlomoggled my yard, I accidentally shallimped two birds.

Jack pazotors as often as he can.
They couldnt believe she had never chorstined before.
This time next week, well be forrisking through the jungle!

If you speak English fairly well, you can identify the verbs in those sentences even though
they arent real words. You can do this because they are doing verb-y things. They have -ing,
-ed and -s endings depending on when they happen and who is doing them. They also follow
the subjects of the sentences and appear next to adverbs. And even though we dont know
what they mean, they somehow convey action. They behave like verbs.

Action Verb

Most verbs are action verbs (also called dynamic verbs) things you can do, things you can
ask someone to demonstrate, things Simon tells you do when youre playing Simon Says.
Hop, skip, pat your head, make a pair of moccasins these are all action verbs.

Stative Verb

Stative verbs are much subtler and more difficult to identify as verbs. They describe a
position or property, they have no duration, no beginning, and no end. They do not show any
action, so if Simon tells you to do one, it is impossible for him to know whether or not you
are doing it.

The stative verbs used in English are:

astonish - The magician astonished the crowd.

be - I am what I am. He is a fool. I was a fool; then I met you.
believe - Do you believe in life after love?
belong - You dont belong to this world.
concern - This conversation doesnt concern you.
consist - The protein shake consists of raw eggs, milk, pureed tuna and vanilla extract.
contain - This box contains all my bowling trophies.
depend - Were depending on you.
deserve - You deserve everything you get in life.
dislike - I dislike humidity.
doubt - I doubt well hear from him.
feel - I feel dead inside.
fit - My senior prom dress still fits.
hate - She hates eating contests.
have - We have a problem.
hear - Do you hear what I hear?
imagine - Imagine no possessions; its easy if you try.
impress - Youve impressed us all with your talent.
include - Her hatred of eating contest includes hot dogs and pizza.
involve - Eating contests involve open-mouthed chewing.
know - I know you.
lack - If any of you lacks anything, ask for it.
like - I like to eat apples and bananas.
look - He looks fat on TV.
love - He loves billiards.
matter - Nothing else matters.
mean - What do you mean?
mind - I dont mind it at all.
need - I dont need my dog.
owe - I owe you $20.
own - Youre what you own.
please - Please please me.
possess - You possess my soul now, honey.
prefer - I prefer dogs to cats.
promise - Every word I say is true; this I promise you.
realize - If youd just realize what I just realized, then wed be perfect for each other.
recognize - I didnt recognize you with that beard.
remember - You dont remember me.
satisfy - Snickers satisfies.
see - I see clearly now that I have my new glasses.
seem - She seems nervous.
smell - The beach smells terrible at low tide.
sound - It sounds great!
suppose - I suppose we can stop for ice cream.
surprise - He surprised me with tickets to New York!
taste - The food tastes delicious.
think - I think shes the best singer.
understand - I dont understand.
want - I want you to want me.
weigh - He weighs 150 pounds.
wish - I wish I may, I wish I might have this wish I wish tonight.

Verbs are words that show action or a state of being, but more importantly, they are a word
that acts like a verb.
What Are Basic English Grammar Rules?
There are hundreds of grammar rules but the basic ones refer to sentence structure and parts
of speech, which are noun, pronoun, verb, adjective, adverb, preposition and conjunction.
Lets look at the way sentences are put together and the words that form them.

Basic English Grammar Rules

Some of the most basic and important English grammar rules relate directly to sentence
structure. Some of these rules specify that:

A singular subject needs a singular predicate.

A sentence needs to express a complete thought.

Another term for a sentence is an independent clause.

Clauses, like any sentence, have a subject and predicate too. If a group of words does not
have a subject and predicate, it is a phrase.
If they can stand alone and make a complete thought, then they are independent and called
If they do not express a complete thought, they are called "dependent clauses." An example
of a dependent clause, which is not a sentence, is when i finish my work.

So, what are the other basic rules for sentence structure?

Subjects and Predicates

Basic to any language is the sentence, which expresses a complete thought and consists of a
subject and a predicate.

The subject is the star of the sentence; the person, animal, or thing that is the focus of it.
The predicate will tell the action that the subject is taking or tell something about the

Basic Parts of Speech

Once you have a general idea of the basic grammar rules for sentence structures, it is also
helpful to learn about the parts of speech:

A noun names a person, animal, place, thing, quality, idea, activity, or feeling. A noun can be
singular, plural, or show possession.
A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun, like: I, you, or they.

A verb shows action and can be a main verb or a helping verb, like: were or has. Verbs
also indicate tense and sometimes change their form to show past, present, or future tense.
Linking verbs link the subject to the rest of the sentence and examples are: appear and
An adjective modifies a noun or a pronoun. It adds meaning by telling how much, which one,
what kind, or describing it in other ways.
An adverb will modify a verb and tell more about it, like how much, when, where, why, or
A preposition shows a relationship between nouns or pronouns. It is often used with a noun
to show location, like: beside, in, or on. It can also show time, direction, motion,
manner, reason, or possession.
Conjunctions connect two words, phrases, or clauses, and common ones are: and, but,
and or.

Mention needs to be made about other types of words that are considered by some, but not
all, to be parts of speech.

One of them is the interjection. It shows emotion and examples are: yea, hurray, uh-
oh, and alas.
Articles are very useful little words that are also sometimes considered to be parts of
speech. The articles are: a, an, and the. Indefinite articles are a and an and the
is a definite article.


To fully understand basic grammar rules, you also need to look at punctuation rules.

All sentences must start with a capital, or upper case, letter.

Titles of people, books, magazines, movies, specific places, etc. are capitalized.
Organizations and compass points are capitalized.
Every sentence needs a punctuation mark at the end of it. These would include a period,
exclamation mark, or question mark.
Colons are used to separate a sentence from a list of items, between two sentences when
the second one explains the first, and to introduce a long direct quote.
Semicolons are used to take the place of a conjunction and are placed before introductory
words like therefore or however. They are also used to separate a list of things if there
are commas within each unit.
There are a lot of rules for commas. The basic ones are commas separate things in a series
and go wherever there is a pause in the sentence. They surround the name of a person being
addressed, separate the day of the month from the year in a date, and separate a town from
the state.
Parentheses enclose things that clarify and enclose numbers and letters that are part of a
list. Apostrophes are used in contractions to take the place of one or more letters and to
show possession. An apostrophe and s is added if the noun is singular and an apostrophe
alone is added if the noun is plural.

So, now you know some basic grammar rules and you'll be well on your way to becoming a
grammar expert.