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Adjectives

Adjectives are words that describe the qualities or states of being of nouns: enormous, doglike, silly,
yellow, fun, fast. They can also describe the quantity of nouns: many, few, millions, eleven.

Adjectives Modify Nouns

Most students learn that adjectives are words that modify (describe) nouns. Adjectives do not modify
verbs or adverbs or other adjectives.

Margot wore a beautiful hat to the pie-eating contest.

Furry dogs may overheat in the summertime.

My cake should have sixteen candles.

The scariest villain of all time is Darth Vader.

In the sentences above, the adjectives are easy to spot because they come immediately before the
nouns they modify.

But adjectives can do more than just modify nouns. They can also act as a complement to linking verbs
or the verb to be. A linking verb is a verb like to feel, to seem, or to taste that describes a state of being
or a sensory experience.

That cow sure is happy.

It smells gross in the locker room.

Driving is faster than walking.

The technical term for an adjective used this way is predicate adjective.

Uses of Adjectives

Adjectives tell the reader how much—or how many—of something you’re talking about, which thing you
want passed to you, or which kind of something you want.

Please use three white flowers in the arrangement.

Three and white are modifying flowers.

Often, when adjectives are used together, you should separate them with a comma or conjunction. See
“Coordinate Adjectives” below for more detail.

I’m looking for a small, good-tempered dog to keep as a pet.

My new dog is small and good-tempered.


Choose the appropriate adjective. Encircle the letter of your choice.

Set A

1. Her hair is long and _________. D) round

A) curly 6. The food at this supermarket is always


_________.
B) happy
A) gentle
C) slim
B) hopeful
D) late
C) empty
2. He drives a bright red sports car. It's very
_________. D) fresh

A) wild Adjectives quiz

B) shallow 7. Her new husband is very ________.

C) fast A) high

D) tall B) smart

3. Today, the weather's going to be C) urgent


___________.
D) relaxing
A) hopeful
8. Take care of this letter, it's ________.
B) warm
A) urgent
C) blue
B) round
D) urgent
C) blonde
4. This house is _________ and old.
D) fresh
A) awkward
9. I had a brilliant holiday. It was really _______.
B) electric
A) relaxing
C) large
B) loving
D) fat
C) low
5. I'm feeling really ________ today.
D) straight
A) late

B) long

C) happy
10. I have fallen in love with a _________ 7. Adjectives always come before the noun in
woman. the sentence.

A) closed A) True

B) beautiful B) False

C) wooden Adjectives quiz

D) handsome E3

Level B © BBC 2011

1. Which word is an adjective? 8. How many adjectives are there in this


sentence? I thought the film was very long and
A) after
boring.
B) pretty
A) 1
C) taste
B) 2
2. Which word is an adjective?
C) 3
A) dirty
9. How many adjectives are there in this
B) ran sentence? I need to find a new car that is less

C) away expensive to run than my old one.

3. Which word is an adjective? A) 1

A) eat B) 2

B) hot C) 3

C) meal 10. How many adjectives are there in this


sentence? You told me that the talk would be
4. Which word is an adjective?
interesting.
A) beautiful
A) 1
B) over
B) 3
C) wave
C) 3
5. 'Lovely' is an adjective

A) True
Level C
B) False
1. An adjective describes a verb.
6. 'Liquid' can be an adjective
A) True
A) True
B) False
B) False
2. You can begin a sentence with an adjective. 7. Be careful - the roads are ______ after the
rain.
A) True
A) slippery
B) False
B) long
3. It is very ______ to write clearly.
C) bendy
A) dangerous
Adjectives quiz
B) important
E3
C) silly
© BBC 2011
4. There are no more ______ towels in the
cupboard. 8. 'Better' can be an adjective

A) white A) True

B) dirty B) False

C) empty 9. 'Surprised' can be an adjective

5. I can't afford that coat. I need to find a A) True


_______ one.
B) False
A) black
10. 'Angrily' can be an adjective
B) cheaper
A) True
C) fashionable
B) False
6. I've lost my glasses so I'm wearing my
________ ones.

A) clean

B) better

C) old

Degrees of Comparison

Adjectives come in three forms: absolute, comparative, and superlative. Absolute adjectives describe
something in its own right.

A cool guy

A messy desk

A mischievous cat

Garrulous squirrels
Comparative adjectives, unsurprisingly, make a comparison between two or more things. For most one-
syllable adjectives, the comparative is formed by adding the suffix -er (or just -r if the adjective already
ends with an e). For two-syllable adjectives ending in -y, replace -y with -ier. For multi-syllable
adjectives, add the word more.

A cooler guy

A messier desk

A more mischievous cat

More garrulous squirrels

Superlative adjectives indicate that something has the highest degree of the quality in question. One-
syllable adjectives become superlatives by adding the suffix -est (or just -st for adjectives that already
end in e). Two-syllable adjectives ending in -yreplace -y with -iest. Multi-syllable adjectives add the
word most. When you use an article with a superlative adjective, it will almost always be the definite
article (the) rather than a or an. Using a superlative inherently indicates that you are talking about a
specific item or items.

The coolest guy

The messiest desk

The most mischievous cat

The most garrulous squirrels

Adjectives exercise 3. He is too ………………… to be taught.

Complete the following sentences using the intelligent


appropriate form of the adjective given in the
more intelligent
brackets.
most intelligent
1. He is ………………… than his neighbors.
4. He is ………………… than I thought him to be.
rich
clever
richer
cleverer
richest
cleverest

5. When the old woman became …………………,


she began to move about.
2. The brides were much ……………… than the
stronger
grooms.
more strong
young
6. He is much ………………… now.
younger
good
youngest
better greatest

best 10. The pain was ………………… than he could


bear.
7. The offer was too ………………… to be true.
much
good
more
better
most
best
11. The ………………… thing of all was that his son
8. He fishes with ………………… success than I do.
was rude to him.
great
bad
greater
worse
greatest
worst
9. Shakespeare is the ………………… playwright in
12. Jane was the ………………… player of the two.
English.
good
great
better
greater
best

Order of adjectives
How to order adjectives in English
In many languages, adjectives denoting attributes usually occur in a specific order. Generally, the
adjective order in English is:

1. Quantity or number
2. Quality or opinion
3. Size
4. Age
5. Shape
6. Color
7. Proper adjective (often nationality, other place of origin, or material)
8. Purpose or qualifier
For example:
1. I love that really big old green antique car that always parked at the end of the street.
2. My sister adopted a beautiful big white bulldog.
When there are two or more adjectives that are from the same group, the word and is placed
between the two adjectives:

1. The house is green and red.


2. The library has old and new books.
When there are three or more adjectives from the same adjective group, place a comma between
each of the coordinate adjectives:

1. We live in the big green, white and red house at the end of the street.
2. My friend lost a red, black and white watch.
A comma is not placed between an adjective and the noun.

Order of adjectives – examples


Quan Purp
Qual Prop
tity ose
Determ ity or Si A Sha Col er No
or or
iner opini ze ge pe or adjec un
numb quali
on tive
er fier

beaut ol Italia
A sports car
iful d n

beaut litt gol plat


The three
iful le d es

hear red
amaz t- and sof
An
ing sha whi a
ped te

More examples:

1. I love that really old big green antique car that always parked at the end of the street. [quality –
age – size – color – proper adjective]
2. My sister has a big, beautiful, tan and white, bulldog. [size – quality – color – color]
3. A wonderful old Italian clock. [opinion – age – origin]
4. A big square blue box. [dimension – shape – color]
5. A disgusting pink plastic ornament. [opinion – color – material]
6. Some slim new French trousers. [dimension – age – origin]
7. A wonderful old Italian clock. [opinion – age – origin]
8. I bought a pair of black leather shoes. [color – material]
Order of adjectives exercises
1. Choose the best answer for each sentence. B. I like that really big old red antique tractor
in the museum.
A. The house is __________________.
C. I like that old, red, really big antique
 large and white
tractor in the museum.
 white and large
 large white
B. They live in a __________________ 5. Which sentence uses the correct order of
house. adjectives?
 large and white
A. My brother rode a beautiful big black
 white and large
Friesian horse in the parade.
 large white
B. My brother rode a beautiful Friesian big
2. Which sentence uses the correct order of
black horse in the parade.
adjectives?
C. My brother rode a big, black, beautiful
A. We took a ride on a blue, old Chinese Friesian horse in the parade.
bus.
B. We took a ride on a Chinese, old, blue
bus.
C. We took a ride on an old, blue Chinese 6. For each of the following sentences,
bus. choose the correct order of adjectives to fill in
the blank.
3. Which sentence uses the correct order of
adjectives? A. My grandmother lives in the
________________________ house on
A. I’d like three good reasons why you don’t the corner
like spinach.
 little blue, green and white
B. I’d like a good three reasons why you  little blue and green and white
don’t like spinach.  little, blue, green, and white
C. I’d like good reasons three why you don’t B. The store carries an assortment of
like spinach. _____________________ objects.
 interesting new, old and antique
4. Which sentence uses the correct order of
adjectives?  new, old, interesting and antique
 interesting, old and new and antique
A. I like that really big red old antique tractor
in the museum.
C. We went for a two-week cruise on a B. Our work uniform consists of black pants,
__________________________ ocean black shoes, and a ________________
liner. shirt.
 incredible brand-new, huge Italian  yellow baggy big polo
 incredible, huge, brand-new Italian  big baggy yellow polo
 Italian incredible, brand-new, huge  baggy yellow big polo
C. I’ve been spending a lot of time in antique
7. For each of the following sentences,
choose the correct order of adjectives to fill in shops looking for the perfect
the blank. _______________ clock.
 little silver Italian cuckoo
A. I bought a pair of _________________
 little Italian silver cuckoo
boots.
 silver little Italian cuckoo
 new, nice, red rain
 nice new red rain 9. Which sentence uses the correct order of
adjectives?
 red nice new rain
B. My dad was thrilled with his gift of A. Our grandparents drive a motorhome with
______________________ bowties for black and white stripes.
his clown act.
B. Our grandparents drive a motorhome with
 three squirting new nice big polka-dotted black with white stripes.
 three polka-dotted nice new squirting
C. Our grandparents drive a motorhome with
 three nice big new polka-dotted squirting
black, white stripes.
C. Please put the marbles into that
10. Which sentence uses the correct order of
______________________ box. adjectives?
 round little old red
 little old round red A. During my college years, I wore a red,
 little old red round white and black big hat to sporting events.
B. During my college years, I wore a big red,
8. For each of the following sentences,
choose the correct order of adjectives to fill in white and black hat to sporting events.
the blank:
C. During my college years, I wore a big red
white and black, hat to sporting events.
A. I was surprised to receive a
__________________ puppy for my
birthday.
 little, cute, eight-week-old golden retriever
 cute eight-week-old little golden retriever
 cute little eight-week-old golden retriever
Adverb
What is an Adverb?
An adverb is a word that is used to change, modify or qualify several types of words including
an adjective, a verb, a clause, another adverb, or any other type of word or phrase, with the
exception of determiners and adjectives, that directly modify nouns. A good way to understand
adverbs is to think about them as the words that provide context. Specifically, adverbs provide a
description of how, where, when, in what manner and to what extent something is done or happens.
Normally, we can spot an adverb by the fact that it often ends in –ly, but there are lots of adverbs
that don’t end in this way. Moreover, adverbs can be used in many combinations with each other.

Traditionally considered a single part of speech, adverbs perform a wide variety of functions, making
it difficult to treat them as a single, unified category. However, spotting an adverb, especially one
that ends in -ly is easy. Adverbs normally help pain a fuller picture by describing how something
happens, such as

 When? She always arrives early.


 How? He drives carefully.
 Where? They go everywhere together.
 In what way? She eats slowly.
 To what extent? It is terribly hot.
This function of providing more information about how something is done is called the adverbial
function, and it may be accomplished by using adverbial clauses and adverbial phrases as well as
by adverbs that stand alone.

There are many rules for using adverbs, and these rules often depend upon which type of adverb
you are using. Remember these basics and using adverbs to make sentences more meaningful will
be easier for you.

 Adverbs can always be used to modify verbs. Notice that the second of these two sentences is much
more interesting simply because it contains an adverb:
 The dog ran. (You can picture a dog running, but you don’t really know much more about the scene.)
 The dog ran excitedly. (You can picture a dog running, wagging its tail, panting happily, and looking
glad to see its owner. You can paint a much more interesting picture in your head when you know
how or why the dog is running.)
 Adverbs are often formed by adding the letters “-ly” to adjectives. This makes it very easy to identify
adverbs in sentences. There are many exceptions to this rule; everywhere,
nowhere, and upstairsare a few examples.
 An adverb can be used to modify an adjective and intensify the meaning it conveys. For example:
 He plays tennis well. (He knows how to play tennis and sometimes he wins.)
 He plays tennis extremely well. (He knows how to play tennis so well that he wins often.)
As you read the following adverb examples, you’ll notice how these useful words modify other words
and phrases by providing information about the place, time, manner, certainty, frequency, or other
circumstances of activity denoted by the verbs or verb phrases in the sentences.

Types of Adverbs
Adverbs of Manner

An adverb of manner will explain how an action is carried out. Very often adverbs of manner are
adjectives with -ly added to the end, but this is certainly not always the case. In fact, some adverbs
of manner will have the same spelling as the adjective form.
Some examples of adverbs of manner include:

1. Slowly
2. Rapidly
3. Clumsily
4. Badly
5. Diligently
6. Sweetly
7. Warmly
8. Sadly
Adverb of manner examples in the following sentences are in bold for easy identification.

 She passed the exam easily.


 They walk quickly to catch the train.
 The dinner party went badly.
 John answered the question correctly.
Notice how the adjectives are formed by adding -ly to the adjectives bad, correct and quick, although
there is a slight spelling change when forming an adverb with the adjective easy.

As mentioned, some adverbs of manner take the same spelling as the adjective and never add an -
ly to the end:
 The boys had worked hard.
 The car drives
 Julia dances well.
Adverbs of place

An adverb of place, sometimes called spatial adverbs, will help explain where an action happens.
Adverbs of place will be associated with the action of the verb in a sentence, providing context for
direction, distance and position: southeast, everywhere, up, left, close by, back, inside, around.
These terms don’t usually end in -ly.

Adverbs of place examples in the following sentences are in bold for easy identification.

Directions

 New York is located north of Philadelphia.


 They traveled down the mountainside.
 First, I looked here, and then I looked there, but I can’t find them anywhere.
Notice that here and there are often used at the beginning of a sentence to express emphasis or in
exclamation.

 Here comes the sun.


 There is love in the air.
 Here you are!
Many times, adverbs of place can be used as prepositions as well. The difference is, when the
phrase is used as an adverb, it is modifying a verb; when it is used as a preposition, it is always
followed by a noun.

 New York is located north of Philadelphia -> New York is on the map.
 They travelled down river -> They travelled in the first compartment.
 That puppy was walking around by itself-> We put a collar around its neck.
Distance

 There was a deli


 Jane is moving far away.
 Carly is sitting close to me.
Position

 The treasure lies underneath the box.


 The cat is sleeping on the bed.
 Why are you standing in the middle of the dancefloor?
In addition, some adverbs of position will refer to a direction of movement. These often end in -ward
or -wards.

 Oscar travelled onward to Los Angeles.


 Hannah looked upwards to the heavens.
 Molly, move forward to the front of the queue, please.
Adverbs of Frequency

Adverbs of frequency are used to express time or how often something occurs. Adverbs of
frequency can be split two main groups. The first, adverbs of indefinite frequency, are terms that
have an unclear meaning as to how long are how often something occurs: usually, always,
normally. These adverbs will usually be placed after the main verb or between the auxiliary verb and
infinitive.

Adverbs of frequency examples in the following sentences are in bold for easy identification.

 The adverb is usually placed before the main verb.


 I can normally make the shot.
 I will always love
Adverbs of definite frequency will usually be placed at the end of the sentence.

 We get paid hourly.


 I come here
 The situation seems to change monthly.
 The newspaper is bought daily.
Adverbs of Time

Adverbs of time, while seemingly similar to adverbs of frequency, tell us when something happens.
Adverbs of time are usually placed at the end of a sentence.

Adverbs of time examples in the following sentences are in bold for easy identification.

 I will see you


 Harvey forgot his lunch yesterday and again today.
 I have to go now.
 We first met Julie last year.
While it’s almost always correct to have the adverb of time at the end of the sentence, you can place
it at the start of the sentence to put a different emphasis on the time if it is important to the context.

 Last year was the worst year of my life.


 Tomorrow our fate will be sealed.
 Yesterday my troubles seemed so far away.
Adverbs of Purpose

Adverbs of purpose, sometimes called adverbs of reason, help to describe why something
happened. They can come in the form of individual words – so, since, thus, because – but also
clauses – so that, in order to. Notice in the examples that the adverbs of purpose are used to
connect sentences that wouldn’t make sense if they were formed alone.

Adverbs of purpose examples in the following sentences are in bold for easy identification.

 I was sick, thus didn’t go to work today.


 I started jogging so that I wouldn’t be late.
 Because I was late, I jogged a little faster.
 Since it’s your birthday, I will buy you a gift.
Positions of Adverbs

The positions of adverbs are not a fixed or set thing. As you have seen, adverbs can appear in
different position in a sentence. However, there are some rules that help us decide where an adverb
should be positioned. The rules will be different depending on whether the adverb is acting to modify
an adjective or another adverb, a verb or what type of adverb it is.

Positional adverb examples in the following sentences are in bold for easy identification.

Adverb position with adjectives and other adverbs

These adverbs will usually be placed before the adjective or adverb being modified:

 We gave them a really tough match. The adverb really modifies the adjective tough.
 It was quite windy that night. The adverb quite modifies the adjective windy.
 We don’t go to the movies terribly often. The adverb terribly modifies the adverb often.
Adverb position with verbs

This can be a bit trickier because, it will depend on the type of adverb – place, position, time etc. –
and there are many exceptions to the rules. However, a basic set of guidelines is shown below:

Adverbs of manner or place are usually positioned at the end of the sentence:

 She laughed timidly.


 I stroked the cat gently.
 Janine lived here.
 There is money everywhere.
As mentioned, if the adverb is of definite time it will be placed at the end of the sentence.

 I did it yesterday.
 We can discuss it tomorrow.
 Let’s go to Paris next week.
However, if it is an indefinite period of time, it will go between the subject and main verb.

 We often go to Paris in the springtime.


 Debbie regularly swims here.
 Bobby and Audrey always loved fishing by the lake.
Order of Adverbs

Adverb order is so important it has clear rules. It’s already mentioned that some adverbs will act to
modify another, but how do you decide the structure of a sentence with several adverbs? Thankfully,
there is a simple set of rules to follow, called the order of adverbs. Handily, the order of adverbs,
sometimes also called the royal order of adverbs, can help us determine sentence structure too. In
short, the adverbs get preference (are placed first) in the following order:

1. Adverbs of manner.
2. Adverbs of place.
3. Adverbs of frequency.
4. Adverbs of time.
5. Adverbs of purpose.
Consider this sentence:

I run (verb) quickly (manner) down the road (place) every morning (frequency) before
school (time) because (purpose) I might miss the bus.

While it is good to remember the order of adverbs, there is always flexibility with language, and we
have already mentioned that adverbs of time and frequency can be placed at the start of a sentence
to change the emphasis. So, bottom line: think of the order of adverbs as more of a guideline than a
rule that can’t be broken.

Examples of Adverbs
As you read each of the following adverb examples, note that the adverbs have been italicized for
easy identification. Consider how replacing the existing adverbs with different ones would change
the meaning of each sentence.

1. She was walking rapidly.


2. The kids love playing together in the sandbox.
3. Please come inside now.
4. His jokes are always very
5. You don’t really care, do you?

Adverbs Exercises
The following exercises will help you gain greater understanding about how adverbs work. Choose
the best answer to complete each sentence.

1. The driver stopped the bus


3. My grandmother always smiled
_______________.
_______________.
A. Financially
A. Cheerfully
B. Exactly
B. Sadly
C. Abruptly
C. Never
D. Now
D. Yesterday
2. During autumn, colorful leaves can be
4. After the party, confetti was strewn
seen falling ______________ from trees.
_________________.
A. Everywhere
A. Blandly
B. Very
B. Everywhere
C. Gently
C. Later
D. Loudly
D. Carefully

5. It’s time to go ____________.


A. Before
B. Now
C. Yesterday
D. Lightly
Adverbs List
There are many different words that function as adverbs. The following list is broken down into
segments which list adverbs by function. After reading, you will be able to think of additional adverbs
to add to your own list – after all, there are thousands.

Many adverbs end in “-ly”. This makes it After


very easy to spot the adverbs in most Always
sentences. Before
Abruptly Later
Boldly Now
Carefully Today
Deliberately Yesterday
Excitedly Many adverbs tell us the extent of the
Financially action.
Horribly Almost
Mildly Enough
Naughtily So
Openly Too
Poorly Quite
Quickly Rather
Sadly Very
Terribly Some adverbs are used as intensifiers.
Willingly Absolutely
Yearly Certain
Some adverbs tell us where the action Completely
happened. These are known as adverbs of Heartily
place. Really
Everywhere Certain adverbs called adverbs of
Here manner tell us about the way in which
Inside something was done.
There Briskly
Underground Cheerfully
Upstairs Expectantly
Certain adverbs let us know when or how Randomly
often the action happened. These are Willingly
known as adverbs of time and adverbs of
frequency.
I. Fill in the Gap
Complete the sentences with the best adverb. Use the adverbs inside the word bank. Write your
answer on the space provided.
Hint: Not every adverb is needed.

slowly carefully beautifully well loudly carelessly easily excitedly finally


suddenly quickly quietly

1. Come here _______________ . You have to see this!


2. We knew that she had got the job when we saw her _________ talking on the phone.
3. He _______ _______ put the vase on the table. It fell to the floor.
4. Sharon is throwing a party on Saturday. She _______ ____ finished her PhD.
5. Let's walk ________________. I don't want to be the first one at the meeting.
6. Alex _____________ put up the bookshelves. It was too difficult for me to do on my own.
7. Every thing happened so ______________. We had to move to California in less than a month.
8. Why does he always have to talk so ____________. You can hear him in the next room!
9. Although she speaks five languages, she did not do _____ ___ ___ on the translation
exam.
10. I was so surprised. His new apartment was _____________ decorated.

Complete the sentence using an adjective or adverb. Encircle your answer.


1. He's always in a rush. I don't understand why he walks so ____________
(quick/quickly).
2. I prefer studying in the library. It's always_______________ (quiet/quietly).
3. Michael __________ (happy/happily) took the assistant job. He had been looking for a
position all summer.
4. Marta dances _____________ (beautiful/beautifully). She's been taking ballet since she
was five years old.
5. They speak French very ____________ (good/well). They lived in France for two years.
6. My neighbor always plays ___________ (loud/loudly) music on the weekends. It's so
annoying.
7. Please be __________ (careful/carefully) in the hallway. The walls have just been
painted.
8. Dan is very smart, but he is not a very___________ (good/well) student.
9. He reacted __________ (angry/angrily) to the news. I have never seen him so upset.
10. We didn't ______________ (complete/completely) understand the teacher's
instructions. Most of us did not finish the assignment.