The Adjective

The Adjective

An adjective is a word used to modify a noun or a pronoun.

To modify means "to describe or to make more definite." Adjectives modify nouns or pronouns by telling what kind, which one, or how many (how much).

WHAT KIND? ripe apples         
happy child
blue sky             
loud music
WHICH ONE? this book             
last straw
those girls          
next step
HOW MANY? two students                
both answers
several choices          
many people
HOW MUCH? some news          
enough time
more money         
less trouble

An adjective usually precedes the word it modifies. 
        The tired and hungry hikers straggled into camp.

For emphasis, however, a writer may place an adjective after the word it modifies. 
        The hikers, tired and hungry, straggled into camp. 

A predicate adjective is separated from the word it modifies by a linking verb. 
        The hikers were hungry and tired
        The hikers felt hungry and tired.


The most frequently used adjectives are a, an , and the. These words are called articles.

A and an are indefinite articles; they refer to any one of a general group. A is used before words beginning with a consonant sound; an is used before words beginning with a vowel sound.
        Felipe added a tomato and an avocado to the salad. It's an honor to be here.

Notice in the second example above that an is used before honor because the h in honor is not pronounced; honor is pronounced as though it began with a vowel. Remember that the sound of the noun, not the spelling, determines which indefinite article to use.

The is the definite article. It specifies a particular person, place, thing, or idea.
        We spent the hour discussing the revolution of the slaves that began in 1791 in Haiti.

Adjective or Pronoun?

In different contexts, a word may be used as different parts of speech. For example, the following words may be used as adjectives or as pronouns.
all either much some what
another few neither that which
any many one these whose
both more other this
each most several those

Remember that an adjective modifies a noun and that a pronoun takes the place of a noun. 
        These books are overdue. [These modifies the noun books.] 
        These are overdue. [These takes the place of the noun books.] 
        Ntozake Shange wrote both poems. [Both modifies the noun poems
        Ntozake Shange wrote both. [Both takes the place of the noun poems.]

In this website the words my, your, his, her, its, our, and their are called possessive pronouns. Since they precede nouns and tell which one or whose, some teachers prefer to call these words possessive adjectives. 
        my job, your essay, their plans 
Follow your teacher's instructions in labeling these words.

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