An adjective is a word that modifies, quantifies, or otherwise describes a noun or pronoun. What does that mean? Well, adjectives give added meaning to nouns and pronouns by describing them more fully or by narrowing their meaning. For example,

  • The ball bounced across the street.
  • The red ball bounced across the street.
  • The man worked hard all day.
  • The tired man worked hard all day.

In these sentences, “red” and “tired” are adjectives. In the case of “red,” it is modifying, or adding meaning, to the noun “ball.” Likewise, “tired” is modifying the noun man.

Adjectives, unlike adverbs, which can sometimes seem as if they pop up out of nowhere, almost always appear directly in front of the nouns that they modify. There are a few exceptions, however.

For example, when indefinite pronouns—words like everybody, something, someone, etc.,—are modified by adjectives, the adjectives will come after the pronoun.

  • Someone nice said something kind to me today, but I can’t remember what it was.
  • Anyone susceptible to that kind of trickery should not be doing business.

There are also some adjectives that, when combined with other words, always come after the noun. For example,

  • A notary public.
  • A President elect.

While there are some exceptions to the general rule, the vast majority of all adjectives precede the nouns and pronouns that they modify.

You can also easily identify many adjectives by looking at their suffixes. Many adjectives follow similar patterns. Below is a list of a few of the most common,

  • able (maneuverable)
  • al (cynical)
  • ary (secondary)
  • en (broken)
  • ful (disgraceful)
  • ible (irresistible)
  • ic (aerobic)
  • ish (selfish)
  • ive (accumulative)
  • less (hopeless)
  • like (jazzlike)
  • ous (adventurous)
  • some (handsome)
  • y (cloudy)

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