Grammar 101: What Is an Adjective?

Updated Nov 19, 2022

Grammar 101: What Is an Adjective?

If you're learning English, adjectives can be the most challenging part of the language. But that's okay because the only thing you need to know to start using them is what they are and how they describe nouns.

An adjective is a [part of speech that]( describes or modifies nouns. For example, an adjective can tell you the color, size, and other physical or emotional characteristics of a noun.

Whether you want to improve your writing to write effectively or better your English in general, you’ll need to be comfortable with using adjectives. So we’ve written this article to help you know what adjectives are and how to use them.

Uses for Adjectives

An adjective is a word that describes or modifies a noun. It may give more information about the noun, such as size, quantity, quality, and other information. Some examples of adjectives would be "red," "big," "blue," and "hot".

When describing a person, an adjective might describe their physical appearance or personality. For example, "the girl was beautiful with long, brown hair."

There are also many adjectives that you can use to describe verbs, such as "nice," "fast," "slow," and "easy." ###Types of Adjectives Now that you understand what adjectives are, let’s take a look at the eight different types:


A descriptive adjective is a word, phrase, or clause describing a sentence’s subject. For example, in the sentence, “the blue bird flew through the window,” the adjective “blue” describes the bird.

Without the adjective, the sentence would be incomplete—lacking vital information.

Descriptive adjectives are essential for effective communication because they give readers additional information about a subject.

While adjectives describe the appearance, emotional state, or location, descriptive adjectives provide additional details about a subject.

For example, in the sentence, “the sad clown cried tears of sadness,” the adjective “sad” describes the clown’s emotional state.


Numeral adjectives are commonly used in expressions of measure, such as “two miles away” and “five million dollars.”

They are also a common feature of advertising copy, as in the phrase “best value.” As a result, many sometimes refer to them as “cardinal adjectives” or “counting adjectives.”


Quantitative adjectives are used to communicate the amount or degree of something.

For example, “Mark is a very tall man” is a sentence that uses the adjective “very” to indicate that Mark is taller than most men. The adjective “very” is a quantitative adjective because it indicates a specific degree or amount.

Other examples of quantitative adjectives include “extremely,” “completely,” and “completely.”


A demonstrative adjective is used to distinguish, such as “such,” “those,” “these,” “this,” and “that.”

For example, “this” refers to something that is near the speaker, and “that” refers to something that is far from the speaker. So, if I wanted to point to a book, I could say “this book” or “that book,” depending on where it is.

Demonstrative adjectives help people understand what you are talking about by making it clear what you are referring to.


An interrogative adjective is a word used to ask a question.

For example, in “where is the cat?” The word “where” is an interrogative adjective because it asks “where” the cat is.

There are many different types of interrogative adjectives, including “who,” “what,” “when,” “why,” and “how.”

We usually use an interrogative adjective to start or emphasize a question.


A possessive adjective is a word that shows ownership.

For example, in the sentence “this is my car,” the possessive adjective “my” indicates that the car belongs to the speaker.

There are several different ways to form possessive adjectives in English. The most common method is to add “ ’s” to the end of a singular noun. For example, “This is John’s car.”

However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if the singular noun ends in “s” (e.g., “James”) or if it is already plural (e.g., “children”), you would use “ ‘s ” after the “s” or the plural form (e.g., “this is James’s car” or “these are the children’s toys”).

There are also several other ways to form possessive adjectives, including the use of “of” alone (e.g., “this is the car of John”).


A proper adjective is an adjective that is used to describe a person, place, or thing that is unique to a particular place or group of people.

An example of a proper adjective is “Swedish.” This adjective describes something unique to the country of Sweden.

A proper adjective is different from an ordinary adjective because it is always used in conjunction with a noun and never by itself.


An exclamatory adjective is a word used to express strong emotion, such as amazement, admiration, or surprise.

The most commonly used exclamatory adjectives are “wow,” “amazing,” and “incredible,” but there are many others. For example, “terrible” expresses dismay or shock, and “wonderful” indicates delight or admiration.

The exclamatory adjective is a part of speech that is often overlooked, but it is an important grammatical tool that helps convey emotion in written and spoken language. By understanding how to use exclamatory adjectives, you can better express yourself in your writing and speech.

Tips on Using Adjectives

There are four main rules for using adjectives:

  1. Adjectives should agree with the noun they modify in gender, number, and case.

  2. Adjectives should be placed as close as possible to the nouns they modify.

  3. Certain adjectives have specific positions that must be placed in a sentence. For example, possessive adjectives (e.g., my, your, his, her, its, our, and their) always come before the noun, and demonstrative adjectives (e.g., this, that, these, and those) can either come before or after the noun.

  4. You can combine adjectives to form compound adjectives. For example, “a well-known author” or “a first-class ticket.”

You should use adjectives sparingly and only when they help clarify the subject or provide information not already evident in the sentence. Overuse of adjectives can become redundant and even distracting. It can also lead to wordiness and poor sentence structure. When in doubt, avoid adjectives and let your sentence stand on its own without additional descriptive words.

The Conclusion on Adjectives

Adjectives are words that modify nouns. They can describe, identify, quantify, or specify the noun. Adjectives make sentences more interesting and can provide more information about nouns.

Adjectives are essential to provide perspective and emphasis and give color to your writing. You can include several adjectives in your writing to add emphasis, but you must be careful not to overuse them.

If you use too many adjectives, you distract your audience, and they lose focus on your message. Use adjectives as needed, but avoid overusing them to make your writing clear and concise.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our introduction to adjectives and how to use them. Feel free to share this article with a fellow English student!

Works Cited

How to improve your writing. Rephrasely. (n.d.). Retrieved November 21, 2022, from

20 important questions to consider when writing an essay. Rephrasely. (n.d.). Retrieved November 21, 2022, from

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Adjective definition & meaning. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved November 21, 2022, from

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Interrogative definition & meaning. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved November 21, 2022, from

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