Kinds of Adjectives and When to Use Them
Adjectives can add that extra something to your writing. They are used to describe nouns and pronouns so you can use them to bring your writing to life. This can be especially helpful if you’re writing a descriptive essay or some kind of creative writing. Use adjectives to write a story for children. If you need to refresh yourself on how to use adjectives, check out this list of kinds of adjectives.
These adjectives indicate the reference made by the noun. They are a, an, the, some, and no. Some and no are also considered quantity adjectives, which will be discussed later. Here are examples of these kinds of adjectives used in a sentence:
- A dog ran after the ball.
- The cat is tired.
- An apple comes in many different colors.
- Some cats have stripes.
- No dogs have ever lived here.
Quality and Opinion Adjectives
These kinds of adjectives are adjectives that can describe the characteristics of a noun. They answer the question “what kind.” Some good examples of quality adjectives include colors and sizes. Here are some other quality adjectives: beautiful, sweet, large, good, strong, big. Here are some of these adjectives used in sentences:
- This piece of candy is sweet.
- My husband is handsome.
- My daughter is good, most of the time.
- The cat is hungry.
- This shirt is purple.
If you ever wonder if you’re using a quality adjective, just ask yourself if you are trying to answer the question, “What kind?” Use these adjectives when writing your novel in a novel writing workshop.
These adjectives show who owns or possesses the noun. Some of these adjectives are also used as pronouns so they tend to get confused. Here are some common possessive adjectives: mine, theirs, his, hers, yours. The sentences below are examples of using possessive adjectives in a sentence:
- My dog has a yellow ball.
- The students did their homework.
- Natalie cleaned her car.
- I have her book.
- Is this your sweater?
These kinds of adjectives are used to give an approximate amount or an amount relative to the whole amount. They are not exact numbers. Some of the terms include all, some, half, few, most, little, no, and enough. Here are some examples of these adjectives used in sentences:
- Maria had many oranges growing on her tree in the backyard.
- Adelie ate some of her rice.
- Jessica had none of the pudding.
- Edgar ate the whole bag of chips.
- Hugo drank half of the soda.
These kinds of adjectives are great to use when the exact number is not necessary. No one wants to count out how many grains of rice Adelie ate, and no one would be sitting around with a measuring cup saying she ate half a cup of a whole cup serving. You can use these types of adjectives when writing on your blog too by taking a blog writing workshop.
These adjectives are used to refer to members of a group individually. It can be people or objects. These adjectives are each, every, either, and neither. Here are some sentences using distributive adjectives:
- Each book in the series starts with the same word.
- Every computer comes with a power cable.
- I need to find out if either book is age-appropriate.
- Neither my daughter nor I could find her shoes.
- I need each item on this list.
There are times when an exact number may be what you need to describe a noun, and you can do that by using the ordinal or cardinal value. Ordinals are the word values to replace the numbers like one, two, three, twenty, and so on. Cardinals are words like first, second, fifth, and so on. It will be up to you and what you’re writing to decide which one you need. Here are some example sentences of both:
- Erika got the first slice of cake.
- Karen had five apples.
- My cat Spider had four kittens.
- I’m going to buy one cucumber.
- I was fifth in line today.
While these adjectives are used less often, they are still useful when writing. You can use these adjectives and the others when writing young adult fiction in a writing workshop.
These kinds of adjectives are used to point out a particular noun. These adjectives are that, this, these, and those. Here are some examples of these particular adjectives in use:
- I like this soda.
- That plate is mine.
- Those shoes look fabulous.
- These cookies taste amazing.
- This TV has great reception.
These adjectives ask questions about the nouns or relating to the nouns in the sentence. They are where, what, which, and whose. Here is an example of these used in sentences:
- Where is Edgar going?
- What did she say?
- Which pair of shoes do you want?
- Whose bag is this?
- What color was the car?
Now that we know the different kinds of adjectives, it would be good to know the rules about the order of placing certain adjectives.
The Rules of Ordering Adjectives
When writing a sentence using a number of different adjectives, it’s important to know which ones you should have first in the sentence. You should know that you can easily use just one adjective to have a complete sentence like saying “She has children.” However, if you want to go into further detail about her children, you should know in what order to use the adjectives. Here are the rules.
The first adjective in your sentence should be an article, demonstrative, possessive, quantifier, numerical, or distributive adjective. Here is an example sentence using a numerical adjective first in the sentence.
She has two good children.
Now, to give you an example as to why it’s important that the numerical adjective come first, the sentence will be rewritten with the quality adjective written first.
She has good two children.
As you can see, writing the quality adjective before the numerical adjective doesn’t make any grammatical sense. Let’s hold onto the first example sentence used here to move on through the rules of order.
Quantity, Number, and Opinion
It’s important to note that if use an article, demonstrative, possessive, quantifier, or distributive adjective first in your sentence, the numerical adjective should follow after that and not before. However, if a numerical adjective is your first adjective, you should follow it with an opinion or quality adjective. As an example, we’ll use the first sentence from the example above:
She has two good children.
In this sentence, “good” would be the quality or opinion adjective. It follows after the numerical adjective from above.
Once you have your numerical adjective, article, or other first adjective followed by your opinion adjective, you can follow it by using an adjective to describe the size of the noun.
She has two good little children.
When describing something, age can make a big difference. For the example sentence above, the word “little” does give some image of the children’s age. Because of this, actually including their age would require a separate sentence, a change of the noun used, or a descriptive phrase. Here are a few examples of how to include age for the example sentence:
She has two good little toddlers.
She has two good little children. They are five and seven.
She has two good little school-age children.
How you add the age depends on what your assignment is. If you’re writing an essay or some other form of non-fiction, you might consider just changing the noun to reflect their age or using the last example with “school-age”. However, using school-age can also leave the reader with a confusing image as school-age can be anywhere from five years old to as old as eighteen before college level. When writing creatively, adding a second sentence like the second example may be exactly what you’re looking for.
When discussing shape, you would use the regular shapes for objects like square, triangle, and the like. If your noun is a person, you would describe their appearance. For this example, let’s change the example so we can actually use a shape:
That is one squishy little old oval ball.
You can see that with certain nouns, the sentence would start to get rather long. Again, this is only as an example as many of these details would be unnecessary unless writing creatively, and with writing creatively, you would likely separate some of these details into separate sentences.
After adding the shape, you can add the color adjective. Here is the example from above again:
That is one squishy little old oval blue ball.
As stated before, your sentence will only get longer, and when writing creatively, you should consider separating some of these details into separate sentences. If you were using the above sentence, you might consider separating it like this:
The small, squishy ball was old. It’s shape, once round, now appeared to be more of an oval, and the blue color had faded in some areas.
When using adjectives to describe the origin, you’ll want to consider whether you’re trying to describe what heritage the item is from or the location it was purchased from. The same can be said when describing people as well – you can use it to describe their heritage or simply where they are from. Using their heritage can also be considered part of the “shape” adjective as it could describe their appearance. Here are two examples using the same ball sentence from before:
That is one squishy little old oval blue French ball.
That is one squishy little old oval blue ball from the South.
As you can see, the first describes the heritage and likely where the item was made. The second sentence is more vague and is likely just where the ball was purchased.
Like shape and origin, this particular part of adding adjectives to a sentence would depend on whether you’re talking about an object or a person. When talking about an object, you would simply describe what the item is made of – wood, plastic, rubber, etc. When talking about a person, you would describe their behavior. Here’s an example of each:
That is one squishy little rubber ball.
She has two good little energetic children.
There are times when nouns or other forms of speech can be used to modify nouns. These are a special kind of adjectives known as grammatical modifiers. These kinds of adjectives are the last to be added to a sentence. Some examples of these include the phrase “royal treatment” and the item “hot fudge.” Here’s an example of a grammatical modifier in a sentence:
She had a little pink wooden doll house.
The word “house” would be the noun, and “doll” would be the grammatical modifier because in this sentence, it is not a human-sized house being described but a house for dolls.
Whenever you’re describing something, it’s important to keep your assignment in mind. If you’re writing an essay or some other non-fiction, you should consider keeping the detail as minimal as possible unless important. If you’re writing creatively, you’re going to want to paint a picture as best as you can, but you’re going to want to describe only the most important things. Describing every detail of every item in your story is not only going to be time-consuming, but it would be very boring for your reader.
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