Adjectives are words that modify or describe nouns
Adjectives can describe the qualities of nouns. For example:
The dog is big. The word “big” describes the quality of the dog
Adjectives can also describe the number of nouns. For example:
There were a lot of dogs. The word “many” describes the number of dogs.
Adjectives only modify nouns: they do not modify verbs, adverbs, or other adjectives.
What is an adjective?
Types of adjectives Adjectives come in three forms: absolute, comparative and superlative.
Absolute adjectives describe something that cannot be compared or is not being compared. For example:
My brother’s great. The absolute adjective “cool” describes the theme, “my brother.” My brother is great in his own right, he’s not being
compared to anything else
Comparative adjectives do exactly what they seem to do: compare two or more things. For example:
My brother’s cooler than me. The comparative adjective “cool” is used to compare my brother’s cool factor with mine. Unsurprisingly, it’s on top.
You can convert most adjectives of a ballroom into its comparative forms by adding the suffix “-er”; If you have a two-syllable adjective that ends with “-y” (e.g. happy), drop the “-y” and add “-er” (happier). For other multisyllabic adjectives, add the word “more” as a modifier. This is the English language, however, so there are always exceptions!
Superlative adjectives are adjectives that show that something has the highest degree of quality mentioned. Let’s go back to our example:
My brother is the coolest person in the world. See? The superlative adjective “the coolest” shows that my brother has reached maximum levels cold. You just can’t be cooler than him!
How to use better adjectives Some are strong and paint clear, specific images of what they’re describing. Some are weak and vague and don’t tell us much. Let’s start with an example:
Tom’s cold. “Cold” is a weak adjective that doesn’t paint a vivid mental picture on your reader’s mind.
In my mind, I imagine Tom’s lips are blue, and his teeth are chatting. It feels like an icicle has replaced all the blood in his veins.
A grammar guru, style editor, and writing mentor in one package. Try it for free! ProWritingAid In your mind, however, you may think Tom is better than throwing a jacket around his shoulders, and he’ll be fine.
There is a lot of ambiguity with “cold”, and your reader stays to guess what you mean. This ambiguity is why an author might be tempted to ad a “very”, to give him that extra blow.
Tom’s very cold. But instead of adding a “very,” you really should replace your weak adjective with a stronger one.
Tom’s freezing. Here are a few more examples to get an idea of the difference:
Weak: happy + very – I’m pleased. Strong: I’m ecstatic.
Weak: hot + very – It’s very hot today. Strong: Today is suffocating.
Weak: drowsy + very – It looks very drowsy. Strong: She looks exhausted.
Weak: happy + very – He’ll be very happy to see you. Strong: He’ll be happy to see you.
Weak: fun + a lot – You’re a lot of fun. Strong: You’re hilarious.
Weak: dirty + very – That dog is very dirty. Strong: That dog is dirty.
Weak: large + very – The elephant in the room is very large. Strong: The elephant in the room is huge.
When to use weak adjectives Adjectives are completely subjective, so you must decide which adjective best conveys their meaning. The third sentence below uses a weak adjective, but it works:
Despite the bumps and bruises, I felt great.
Despite the bumps and bruises, I felt good.
Despite the bumps and bruises, I felt pretty good.
Although the meanings of “big”, “good” and “pretty good” are very similar, the subtle differences paint a very different picture. Weaker adjectives help illustrate situations that are decidedly in the middle in the continuum between perfect and worse. In this case, “pretty good” means you’re okay, but definitely not 100%. When Strong weakens One last note, pay attention to strong adjectives that can be weakened by adding a “ly” at the end.
John played a terrible play. Here, terrible is a strong adjective. You’re pretty sure this play was a disaster.
But if you use “terribly,” the meaning changes.
John’s play wasn’t very good. Again, it’s subjective and depends only on the meaning you want to impress. If John is your friend and you want to be nice to his work, the second sentence is a softer way to give a bad verdict.
Make those adjectives work for it! Decide exactly what you want to say, and then choose a strong or weak adjective to get your point through.