The Grammar Guardian Presents: Adjectives

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Note: The examples used in this article are a continuation of the Story of Millie Black.  To read Millie’s entire story, go back and start with Nouns.  All of the previous chapters are also listed at the bottom of this article for your convenience. If you read the precious chapters or are just here to learn about Adjectives, and not Millie, read on.

Note 2: All images are courtesy of Quanta Ignis Photography

What is an Adjective?

An adjective is any word or phrase that describes a noun or a pronoun. They give a sentence shape and color. Consider the following sentence:

After leaving the dock, the boat neared an island.

This has all of the necessary qualities of a sentence. It has a subject, the boat, and a predicate, neared an island. Is the sentence exciting, though? Does the sentence grab your attention and make you want to know more? Let us look at the same sentence again, this time with the addition of some adjectives.

One long hour after leaving the dock, the small boat neared a tree-covered island.

Notice that the adjectives come in both words: “one”, “long” and “small” and phrases: “tree-covered”. These adjectives tell us more about the hour, the boat, and the island. Lets learn some more about how to use adjectives as we learn about Millie’s arrival on the island.

What do adjectives tell us?

As mentioned, an adjective describes a noun or a pronoun. Adjectives answer specific questions about their subject. They can tell us:

  • What kind is it?
  • How many are there?
  • Which one is it?
  • Whose is it?

What kind is it?

The glowing, yellow moon was the only source of light now.

What kind of moon was it? It was a glowing, yellow moon.

Millie guided the sleek boat through the dark, murky waters towards the island.

What kind of boat was it? What kind of waters were they? Notice what the use of adjectives tells you about boat and waters in this sentence.

How many are there?

Adjectives can also count things. There are two types of adjectives that answer the question “How many?”

Numbers

Numbers give a specific account of how many of the subject there are.

The three people in the back of the boat made soft noises of fear. Millie took one quick look back at them and then turned to meet Jake’s intense gaze.

How many people are in the back of the boat? How many looks did Millie give them?

 

Indefinite Adjectives

Indefinite Adjectives answer the how many question with a less specific answer. Common indefinite adjectives include any, each, few, many, much, most, several, and some.

She held his gaze for several moments before turning to look at the island. The island was covered with many large trees giving it an ominous appearance.

 

Which one is it?

Adjectives can also be used to answer the question “Which one is it?”. These adjectives come in two types: Demonstrative adjectives and articles.

 

Articles

Articles are used with and give some information about a noun. There are two types of article. “A” or “an” are called indefinite articles. Using an indefinite article shows the reader that you are referring to a general noun rather than a specific one. “The” is a definite article. This references a specific noun.

The boat glided close to the island and Millie turned off the engine. A gentle wave lapped at their legs as the five people climbed out and made their way up onto the beach.

 

Demonstrative Adjectives

Demonstrative adjectives provide even more specificity to a noun. The most common demonstrative adjectives are:

  • This and that for singular nouns
  • These and those for plural nouns.

This island hasn’t changed a bit in all these years,” Millie whispered.

Notice how exact the references are made by the use of adjectives. Millie is talking about this specific island and these specific years.

 

Whose is it?

Possessive Adjectives

Possessive adjectives show who or what something belongs to. They replace a possessive noun and can therefore also be called possessive pronouns. The possessive adjectives include:

Possessive Adjectives

1st Person My, Our
2nd Person Your
3rd Person His, Her, Its, Their

 

“Shall we head up to your cave?” Jake asked her. Millie shook her head.

“Not my cave,” she said. “Our cave now.”

 

Other Ways to classify Adjectives

Degrees of Adjectives

Adjectives can be used to for comparison as well. There are three degrees of comparison adjectives. The positive degree is the normal adjective form. This is the type used to simply describe a person, place or thing. The Comparative degree compares two things. The superlative degree of adjective is used to compare more than two things.

Examples of Degrees of Adjectives

Positive Comparative Superlative
Frightened More frightened Most frightened
Tall Taller Tallest
Good Better Best
Small Smaller Smallest

 

The cave seemed smaller than Millie remembered. Perhaps it was Jake’s tall form that seemed to overwhelm the space. She walked over to where she kept a box of supplies and picked out the best candles she could find. Behind her she could hear the other woman sobbing. She was the most frightened of all of the captives, Millie knew.

Notice how the adjectives in the passage above were used to compare things. The smaller cave, Jake’s tall form, the best candles and the most frightened captive. How did the use of comparisons add to what you learned about the nouns?

 

Predicate Adjectives

A predicate adjective follows a linking verb. It describes of modifies the subject of the sentence.

The cave was cold and dark. Millie arranged the candles around the perimeter and lit them. The light was faint. She looked over at Jake and took a deep breath.

“Are you ready?”

 

Conclusion

Adjectives add color and form to your writing. They can take your sentences from merely informational to truly beautiful and educational. Yet the improper use of adjectives can be even worse than not using adjectives at all. However, adjectives can be easy to use, one understood. As we review Millie’s story think about what you have learned about adjectives and how you can employ them to enhance your own writing.

 

The Story of Millie Black – Chapter 5 – The Cave

 

One long hour after leaving the dock, the small boat neared a tree-covered island. The glowing yellow moon was the only source of light now. Millie guided the sleek boat through the dark, murky waters towards the island. The three people in the back of the boat made soft noises of fear. Millie took one quick look back at them and then turned to meet Jake’s intense gaze. She held his gaze for several moments before turning to look at the island. The island was covered with many large trees giving it an ominous appearance. The boat glided close to the island and Millie turned off the engines. A gentle wave lapped at their legs as the five people climbed out and made their way up onto the beach.

“This island hasn’t changed a bit in all these years,” Millie whispered.

“Shall we head up to your cave?” Jake asked her. Millie shook her head.

“Not my cave,” she said. “Our cave now.”

The cave seemed smaller than Millie remembered. Perhaps it was Jake’s tall form that seemed to overwhelm the space. She walked over to where she kept a box of supplies and picked out the best candles she could find. Behind her she could hear the other woman sobbing. She was the most frightened of all of the captives, Millie knew. The cave was cold and dark. Millie arranged the candles around the perimeter and lit them. The light was faint. She looked over at Jake and took a deep breath.

“Are you ready?”

 

Parts of Speech/The Story of Millie Black Contents

Chapter 1 – Nouns

Chapter 2 – Verbs

Chapter 3 – Pronouns

Chapter 4 – Building Sentences

Chapter 5 – Adjectives

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One thought on “The Grammar Guardian Presents: Adjectives

  1. Lisa Rios

    April 19, 2017 at 8:28am

    Love the grammar lessons! A grammar police myself, I find this post to be refreshing and enlightening! I <3 grammar!

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      admin

      May 21, 2017 at 12:54am

      Appreciate the compliment. Keep an eye out, there many more Grammar Guardians to come.

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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