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Stative and Dynamic adjectives, nominal adjectives


5.4 Stative and Dynamic Adjectives

As their name suggests, STATIVE adjectives denote a state or condition, which may generally be considered permanent, such as big, red, small. Stative adjectives cannot normally be used in imperative constructions: 
 

*Be big/red/small  

Further, they cannot normally be used in progressive constructions: 
 

*He is being big/red/small 

In contrast, DYNAMIC adjectives denote attributes which are, to some extent at least, under the control of the one who possesses them. For instance, brave denotes an attribute which may not always be in evidence (unlike red, for example), but which may be called upon as it is required. For this reason, it is appropriate to use it in an imperative:  
 

Be brave

Dynamic adjectives include: 

 

 

calm 
careful 
cruel 
disruptive 
foolish 
friendly 
good 
impatient

mannerly 
patient 
rude 
shy 
suspicious 
tidy 
vacuous 
vain 

 

  
All dynamic adjectives can be used in imperatives (Be careful!, Don't be cruel!), and they can also be used predicatively in progressive constructions:  
 

Your son is being disruptive in class  
My parents are being foolish again  
We're being very patient with you 

The majority of adjectives are stative. The stative/dynamic contrast, as it relates to adjectives, is largely a semantic one, though as we have seen it also has syntactic implications.

5.5 Nominal Adjectives

Certain adjectives are used to denote a class by describing one of the attributes of the class. For example, the poor denotes a class of people who share a similar financial status. Other nominal adjectives are:  

the old  
the sick  
the wealthy
the blind  
the innocent 

A major subclass of nominal adjectives refers to nationalities:  
 

the French  
the British  
the Japanese 

However, not all nationalities have corresponding nominal adjectives. Many of them are denoted by plural, proper nouns: 
 

the Germans  
the Russians  
the Americans  
the Poles 

 
Nominal adjectives do not refer exclusively to classes of people. Indeed some of them do not denote classes at all:  
 

the opposite  
the contrary  
the good 

Comparative and superlative forms can also be nominal adjectives: 
 

the best is yet to come  
the elder of the two  
the greatest of these  
the most important among them 

We refer to all of these types as nominal adjectives because they share some of the characteristics of nouns (hence `nominal') and some of the characteristics of adjectives. They have the following nominal characteristics: 

  • they are preceded by a determiner (usually the definite article the
  • they can be modified by adjectives (the gallant French, the unfortunate poor

They have the following adjectival features: 
 

  • they are gradable (the very old, the extremely wealthy
  • many can take comparative and superlative forms (the poorer, the poorest)

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