[“look” is the sense verb for things we can see]Adjectives are the words we use to describe nouns, things like people, animals, plants, objects, places, situations and experiences. They help us add detail to what we are saying by talking about colour, shape, size and other qualities.
For example, adjectives can describe:
The clothes are pretty. The shoes are comfortable.
The bag is big.
The woman is happy.
The weather is hot.
The woman is young.
The earrings are round.
The shirt is yellow.
The woman is English.
The trousers are jeans.
Adjectives are usually is placed in front of the noun they describe
We most often place adjectives before the word they are describing, not after. Be careful as this is the opposite structure from many other languages.
A red car. An old car. A fast car
NOT a car red. A car old. A car fast.
After the verb “to be” and sensing verbs we can use adjectives
Another way we can use adjectives is with the verb “to be” or with verbs that describe the senses, like “to look, taste, sound, feel, smell” or “to seem”. In this structure, we place the adjective after the verb.
In the picture above the couple at the table use “to be” and many sense verbs to describe their food:
The cake is great. [using “to be”]
It looks delicious. [“look” is the sense verb for things we can see]
It smells wonderful. [“smell” is the sense verb for smells and odours]
It tastes amazing. [“taste” is the sense verb for things we can eat]
It feels soft. [“feel” is the sense verb for things we can touch]
They seem satisfied. [“seem” is the sense verb for things we can guess]
Adjectives do not change their form
In English, adjectives always stay the same even if the number of things we are describing changes. This means adjectives in English are invariable.
One brown dog
Two brown dogs.
Twenty brown dogs.
So no matter the number or quantity, the adjective stays the same.
Use “very” and “really” to emphasise adjectives
We can make adjectives stronger in meaning by using “very/really” in front of them. This emphasises the meaning of the adjective.
It is hot. >It is very hot.
It is cold. > It is really cold.
Multiple adjectives are put in a specific order
When we want to use more than one adjective, there is a natural order we usually place them in, depending on which quality they describe. The order goes like this:
Quantity, Opinion, Size, Temperature, Age, Shape, Colour, Origin, Material
[Three] [beautiful,] [small] flowers. [Quantity] [Opinion] [Size]
A [Warm,] [new,] [long] scarf. [Temperature] [Age] [Shape]
[Brown,] [swiss] [chocolate] rabbits. [Colour] [Origin] [Material]
We know that remembering this order can be quite difficult, so you can use a memory trick called a “mnemonic” to help you. Below is an example we thought of, or you have fun making your own mnemonics. The way mnemonics work is that the letters at the start of each word in the mnemonic phrase correspond the first letters of the words you want to remember:
Queen OctoPus SIngs To All Shy Crabs On Mondays =
(Quantity, OPinion, SIze, Temperature, Age, SHape, Colour, Origin, Material)
Adjectives in English are quite simple to use as don’t change in any way, but remember that they usually go before the word they are describing, and be careful of the word order when you are using lots of adjectives together. Being able to describe things is a basic part of any language so we see and use adjectives all the time. Check out some of the songs bellow which use lots and lots of adjectives! Can you think of any more? Leave us a comment with your suggestions.
What A Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
The Logical Song – Supertramp
You Gotta Be – Des’ree
For other examples of grammar explained in pictures, check out our GRAMMAR INDEX here.
Senior teacher at Break into Englishsition
If Ilaria was your online English teacher you would learn so much while having so much fun! Ilaria is one of our star teachers who when she is not teaching English, loves to travel and speak to people from all other the world, cook tasty Italian food, geek out over books, comics, games, films and tv series, all while keeping up with her own language studies in Norwegian and Japanese. What she loves to do even more than all that is changing into a band shirt and going to a concert to see some live music and do a little headbanging in front of the stage. Nothing like some hard rock to blow off steam!