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Adjectives and characteristics of adjectives


5 Adjectives

 

Adjectives can be identified using a number of formal criteria. However, we may begin by saying that they typically describe an attribute of a noun:  
  

cold weather   
large windows   
violent storms 

  
Some adjectives can be identified by their endings. Typical adjective endings include:  
  
  

-able/-ible

achievable, capable, illegible, remarkable

-al

biographical, functional, internal, logical

-ful

beautiful, careful, grateful, harmful

-ic

cubic, manic, rustic, terrific

-ive

attractive, dismissive, inventive, persuasive

-less

breathless, careless, groundless, restless

-ous

courageous, dangerous, disastrous, fabulous

 

  

However, a large number of very common adjectives cannot be identified in this way. They do not have typical adjectival form:  

 

 

bad  
bright  
clever  
cold  
common  
complete  
dark  
deep  
difficult

distant  
elementary  
good  
great  
honest  
hot  
main  
morose  
old

quiet  
real  
red  
silent  
simple  
strange  
wicked  
wide  
young

 

   
As this list shows, adjectives are formally very diverse. However, they have a number of characteristics which we can use to identify them.  

5.1 Characteristics of Adjectives

Adjectives can take a modifying word, such as very, extremely, or less, before them:  
  

very cold weather   
extremely large windows   
less violent storms 

  
Here, the modifying word locates the adjective on a scale of comparison, at a position higher or lower than the one indicated by the adjective alone.  

This characteristic is known as GRADABILITY. Most adjectives are gradable, though if the adjective already denotes the highest position on a scale, then it is non-gradable:  

 

 

my main reason for coming

~*my very main reason for coming

the principal role in the play

~*the very principal role in the play

 

  
  
As well as taking modifying words like very and extremely,adjectives also take different forms to indicate their position on a scale of comparison:  
  

big     bigger     biggest

   
The lowest point on the scale is known as the ABSOLUTE form, the middle point is known as the COMPARATIVE form, and the highest point is known as the SUPERLATIVE form. Here are some more examples:  

 

 

Absolute

Comparative

Superlative

dark

darker

darkest

new

newer

newest

old

older

oldest

young

younger

youngest

 

  

In most cases, the comparative is formed by adding -er , and the superlative is formed by adding -est, to the absolute form. However, a number of very common adjectives are irregular in this respect:   

 

 

Absolute 

Comparative 

Superlative

good

better

best

bad

worse

worst

far

farther

farthest

 

  

Some adjectives form the comparative and superlative using more and most respectively:  

 

 

Absolute 

Comparative 

Superlative

important

more important

most important

miserable

more miserable

most miserable

recent

more recent

most recent

 

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