12 Most Common Types of Adjectives

Have you ever thought about where we’d be without adjectives? 

Well, for one, we’d be left wondering how everyone is doing today. We wouldn’t be able to answer, “I’m fine.” We wouldn’t be able to specify, “I’d like the chocolate ice cream.” (That’s a seriously scary thought.) And we wouldn’t be able to clarify, “That’s my book!” (Get your paws off of it!)

What is an adjective?

Adjectives are the all-important words that describe nouns or pronouns. They answer questions like what kind, how many, and which one? Just like there are countless adjectives, there are many ways to describe adjectives themselves. There are at least 12—yes, 12!—types of adjectives.

Common types of adjectives

Possessive adjectives

Possessive adjectives are a type of pronoun used before nouns. They explain ownership. Possessive adjectives include his, her, our, and my. There is a corresponding possessive adjective for each of the personal pronouns.

For example: “I lost my book.” In this sentence, my is a possessive adjective that explains whose book was lost.

Demonstrative adjectives

Demonstrative adjectives answer the question which one? They point out particular nouns. Some demonstrative adjectives are this, that, these, and those.

For example: “He bought that sweater.” Here, that is a demonstrative adjective that describes which sweater we’re referring to.

Descriptive adjectives

Descriptive adjectives describe the characteristics of a noun. They can tell you about a noun’s size, color, shape, taste, and more. Some examples are small, red, round, friendly, and salty.

For example: “The large, yellow house is on the corner.” Here, large and yellow are descriptive adjectives that describe the house.

Proper adjectives

Proper adjectives refer to the proper names of people, places, and things. Some examples are Buddhist, South American, and Alaskan.

For example: “That coat will not keep you warm in the Antarctic cold.” Antarctic is a proper adjective that refers to the country Antarctica.

Interrogative adjectives

Interrogative adjectives appear in interrogative sentences. English has three interrogative adjectives: whatwhich, and whose. In direct questions, the adjective will appear at the beginning of the sentence next to the noun it modifies.

For example: “Which cookie do you want?” In this case, which is an interrogative adjective that modifies the noun cookie.

Predicate adjectives

Predicate adjectives appear after the noun or pronoun they describe. If you see a linking verb followed by an adjective, you have a predicate adjective. These adjectives are basically identified by their function in a sentence.

For example: “The baby is tired.” Tired is connected to baby with a linking verb (is), so it’s a predicate adjective.

Indefinite adjectives

Indefinite adjectives describe a noun in a non-specific way. What does this mean? They give you some information but not all. Some examples are much, most, several, and some (just like in the previous sentence).

For example: “Most students brought their own notebooks and pencils.” Most is the indefinite adjective describing students. It’s non-specific because it does not denote how many students brought their materials.

Quantitative adjectives

Quantitative adjectives describe the exact or approximate amount of a noun. Some examples include all, no, few, many, and littleNumeral adjectives are quantitative adjectives that give exact number amounts (e.g. two, seven, thirty, first, and ninth).

For example: “There are five boys in her class.” In this case, five is a numeral adjective that describes the number of boys.

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Coordinative adjectives

Adjectives can fall into more than one group. For example, coordinative adjectives are two or more adjectives (they might be descriptive adjectives, for example) connected by a conjunction.

For example: “Lively and quick, the dog charmed everyone at the show.” Lively and quick both refer to the same noun: dog.

Compound adjectives 

A compound adjective is one that is composed of multiple words. These include adjectives like three-hour, two-foot, 200-word, fat-free, and part-time. They are usually joined by hyphens, but not always.

For example: “A middle-aged man began to complain loudly as he waited in the line.” Middle-aged man is a compound adjective joined by a comma and describes man.

Article adjectives

This type of adjective may surprise you. Articles can function as article adjectives, and as you may know, there are only three articles in the English language: thea, and an.

For example: “The cat is outside.” The is an article adjective that answers which cat? The cat is outside.


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