Adjectives

Adjectives are words or phrases used to modify nouns. There are three degrees of adjectives: positive, comparative, and superlative. The positive form of an adjective is the infinitive form of the adjective (e.g. he is tall). The comparative form of an adjective is used for comparing two people or things (e.g. he is taller than me). The superlative is used for comparing one person or thing with every other member of their group (e.g. he was the tallest boy in the class). Adjectives make their comparative and superlative forms in different ways, depending on the root of the adjective itself.

1. Adjectives with one syllable

In general, if the adjective has one syllable, then the letters –er or -est are added:

Positive

warm

quick

tall

Comparative

warmer

quicker

taller

Superlative

warmest

quickest

tallest

2. Adjectives with one syllable ending in e

If the adjective has one syllable and ends in e, the letters -r or –st are added:

Positive

late

nice

large

Comparative

later

nicer

larger

Superlative

latest

nicest

largest

3.Adjectives with two syllables

Adjectives with two syllables vary.

  • Some add –er/-est or –r/-st, like 'feeble' 
  • Some use the word more for the comparative and most for the superlative, like 'famous'
  • Many can add the ending or use more and most, like ‘clever’

Positive

feeble

famous

clever

Comparative

feebler

more famous

cleverer/most clever

Superlative

feeblest

most famous

cleverest/most clever

4. Adjectives with spelling changes

Some one-syllable adjectives that end with a single consonant (e.g. big and sad) double this consonant before adding –er, or –est:

Positive

big

sad

Comparative

bigger

sadder

Superlative

biggest

saddest

If the adjective ends in y (e.g. happy and greedy) change the y to an i and add –er or –est:

Positive

happy

greedy

Comparative

happier

greedier

Superlative

happiest

greediest

Some common adjectives have irregular comparative and superlative forms that simply must be learned:

 

Positive

bad

good

little

much

Comparative

worse

better

less

more

Superlative

worst

best

least

most

Adjective order

When using multiple adjectives to describe a noun there is a specific order for the adjectives. This order is:

  1. Determiners or limiters
  2. Observations or subjective remarks
  3. Size
  4. Shape
  5. Age
  6. Colour
  7. Origin or source of the noun
  8. Material of the object
  9. Qualifier or final limiter. Can be regarded as part of the noun.

Examples:

Determiner Observation Size Shape Age Colour Origin Material Qualifier Noun
a beautiful new black Italian sports car
five shiny gold rings
his short curly blond hair
some big alaskan winter mittens
that decrepit little old hunting cabin
those expensive colourful silk scarves
our playful round puppy