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Using Adjectives and Adverbs Correctly

What are adjectives?

Adjectives modify nouns or pronouns These words are all adjectives
A hot day A happy camper

A silly twit
A big, bloody mess (both big and bloody modify mess) She is creative (creative is a subject complement that follows the linking verb is) A boring course (present participle used as an adjective

So what are adverbs?

Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives and other adverbs Many adverbs end with ly Many adverbs answer the question How? These are adverbs
Eating quickly (modifying a verb) Trying very hard (modifying an adverb) A really big show (modifying an adjective)

Recognizing Adjectives & Adverbs

Many words have both an adjective and adverb form

Happy kids
Smooth rock Good night Efficient workers Casual dress

Playing happily
Running smoothly Eating Well Working efficiently Dressing casually

Quick meeting
hopeful children Real butter

Talking quickly
Waiting hopefully Really hot

Comparatives and Superlatives

Most adverbs and adjectives also have a comparative and superlative form

Hot Good Exciting Careful

Hotter Better More exciting Less careful

Hottest Best Most exciting Least careful

Use the comparative form to compare two things

Sally is the larger of the twins (not largest)

Use the superlative form to compare three or more

August was the hottest month of the year

Double Comparatives
Dont use more or most with er or est
X Yesterday was more hotter than today X That was the most dirtiest story I ever heard X You are the bestest teacher

Absolute Concepts
Dont use comparatives or superlatives with absolute concepts Absolutes have only two possibilities, on or off, yes or no, with nothing in between
X The most perfect student in the class X A very unique idea (say very unusual instead)

These words express absolute concepts that cannot be modified

More priceless Quite on Sort of dead A little bit pregnant

Very unanimous
Quite unique

Extremely perfect
Completely anonymous

Dont use adjectives when adverbs are needed

X You did a real nice job
(an adjective cant modify another adjective)

You did a really nice job

(the adverb really modifies nice)

X He did good He did well or He did a good job X Fuel injection helps the car run efficient Fuel injection helps the car run efficiently X Come quick! Come quickly! X Hopefully, it wont rain
(an adverb explains how something will happen

I hope that it wont rain

Dont use needless adverbs

Before using any of these words, check to see if they add anything to the sentence
Really, very, absolutely, extremely, quite, actually, somewhat, rather I am really happy to see you Grammar is very boring You are absolutely correct Her language was extremely crude You are quite intelligent

Context will help you decide whether to retain the underlined words Keep them only if they add to the meaning

Note: the terms good success and real good success have been reserved for sports broadcasters; do not use them

X Bill Gates is very rich. I hope he gives me some money. Most college instructors are poor; their students are very poor.

Compound Adjectives
Two or more adjectives often appear together separated with commas
Brads tiny, tight swimsuit showed off his hairy belly

The words tiny and tight each work separately to modify swimsuit

Connect the words with a hyphen when they function together before a noun
Brads gold-plated piercings stood out against his

bright-red sunburn
Gold-plated and bright-red are compound adjectives

Compound Adjectives
Do not hyphenate the words when they come after the noun they modify Notice the difference in these examples
Brad was well known along the boardwalk (no hyphen) His SUV was fully equipped Brad worked full time on his tan Brad was a well-known jerk (hyphenated) He drove a fully-equipped SUV Brad was a full-time chick magnet

Misplaced Modifiers
Put adjectives and adverbs close to the words they modify Notice how the meaning is affected by the improper placement
X An old pile of clothes is on the floor A pile of old clothes is on the floor X I almost believe you are finished I believe you are almost finished X The winners will only be contacted Only the winners will be contacted X I cant quite do this as well as Fred I cant do this quite as well as Fred