HOME

TheInfoList




In
linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing ...

linguistics
, an adjective (
abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or phrase; for example, the word ''abbrevia ...
) is a word that modifies a
noun A noun () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many la ...

noun
or
noun phrase A noun phrase, or nominal (phrase), is a phrase In everyday speech, a phrase is any group of words, often carrying a special idiomatic meaning; in this sense it is synonymous with expression. In Linguistics#Analysis, linguistic analysis, a phrase i ...
or describes its referent. Its
semantic Semantics (from grc, σημαντικός ''sēmantikós'', "significant") is the study of reference Reference is a relationship between objects in which one object designates, or acts as a means by which to connect to or link to, another o ...
role is to change information given by the noun. Traditionally, adjectives have been considered one of the main
parts of speech In traditional grammar Traditional grammar is a framework for the description of the structure of a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sig ...
of the English language, although historically they were classed together with nouns. Certain words that usually had been classified as be adjectives, including ''the'', ''this'', ''my'', etc., are today typically classed separately, as
determiners A determiner, also called determinative ( abbreviated ), is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practic ...
.


Etymology

''Adjective'' comes from
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant la ...

Latin
', a
calque In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ...

calque
of grc, ἐπίθετον ὄνομα, epítheton ónoma, additional noun. In the grammatical tradition of Latin and Greek, because adjectives were inflected for gender, number, and case like nouns (a process called
declension In linguistics, declension is the changing of the form of a word, generally to express its syntactic function in the sentence, by way of some inflection. The inflectional change of verbs is called Grammatical conjugation, conjugation. Declensions ...
), they were considered a type of noun. The words that are today typically called nouns were then called ''
substantive A noun (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman ...
nouns'' ().McMenomy, Bruce A. ''Syntactical Mechanics: A New Approach to English, Latin, and Greek''. University of Oklahoma Press, 2014. p. 8. The terms ''noun substantive'' and ''noun adjective'' were formerly used in English but are now obsolete.


Types of use

Depending on the language, an adjective can precede a corresponding noun on a prepositive basis or it can follow a corresponding noun on a postpositive basis. Structural, contextual, and style considerations can impinge on the pre-or post-position of an adjective in a given instance of its occurrence. In English, occurrences of adjectives generally can be classified into one of three categories: # Prepositive adjectives, which are also known as "attributive adjectives," occur on an antecedent basis within a
noun phrase A noun phrase, or nominal (phrase), is a phrase In everyday speech, a phrase is any group of words, often carrying a special idiomatic meaning; in this sense it is synonymous with expression. In Linguistics#Analysis, linguistic analysis, a phrase i ...
. For example: "I put my ''happy kids'' into the car," wherein ''happy'' occurs on an antecedent basis within the ''my happy kids''
noun phrase A noun phrase, or nominal (phrase), is a phrase In everyday speech, a phrase is any group of words, often carrying a special idiomatic meaning; in this sense it is synonymous with expression. In Linguistics#Analysis, linguistic analysis, a phrase i ...
, and therefore functions in a prepositive adjective. #
Postpositive adjective A postpositive adjective or postnominal adjective is an adjective In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language) ...
s can occur: (a) immediately subsequent to a noun within a ''noun phrase'', e.g. "I took a short ''drive around'' with my happy kids;" (b) as linked via a copula or other linking mechanism subsequent to a corresponding noun or pronoun; for example: "''My kids are happy''," wherein ''happy'' is a predicate adjective (see also:
Predicative expression A predicative expression (or just predicative) is part of a clause In language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Mos ...
,
Subject complementIn grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well ...
); or (c) as an appositive adjective within a noun phrase, e.g. "My ''kids,
ho are Ho (or the transliterations He or Heo) may refer to: People Language and ethnicity * Ho people, an ethnic group of India ** Ho language, a tribal language in India * Hani people, or Ho people, an ethnic group in China, Laos and Vietnam * Hiri Mot ...
happy'' to go cruising, are in the back seat." #
Nominalized adjective In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ph ...
s, which function as nouns. One way this happens is by eliding a noun from an adjective-noun noun phrase, whose remnant thus is a
nominalization In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ph ...
. In the sentence, "I read two books to them; he preferred the sad book, but she preferred the happy", ''happy'' is a nominalized adjective, short for "happy one" or "happy book". Another way this happens is in phrases like "out with the old, in with the new", where "the old" means "that which is old" or "all that is old", and similarly with "the new". In such cases, the adjective may function as a
mass noun In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langua ...
(as in the preceding example). In English, it may also function as a plural
count noun In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ...
denoting a collective group, as in "The meek shall inherit the Earth", where "the meek" means "those who are meek" or "all who are meek".


Distribution

Adjectives feature as a
part of speech In traditional grammar Traditional grammar is a framework for the description of the structure of a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sig ...
(word class) in most
language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an apparent answer to the painful divisions between self and other, private and public, and ...

language
s. In some languages, the words that serve the
semantic Semantics (from grc, σημαντικός ''sēmantikós'', "significant") is the study of reference Reference is a relationship between objects in which one object designates, or acts as a means by which to connect to or link to, another o ...
function of adjectives are categorized together with some other class, such as
noun A noun () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many la ...

noun
s or
verb A verb () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many la ...
s. In the phrase "a
Ford Ford commonly refers to: * Ford Motor Company The Ford Motor Company, commonly known as Ford, is an American multinational automaker that has its main headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit (strait) , nicknames ...

Ford
car", "Ford" is unquestionably a noun but its function is adjectival: to modify "car". In some languages adjectives can function as nouns: for example, the Spanish phrase "" means "a red ne. As for "confusion" with verbs, rather than an adjective meaning "big", a language might have a verb that means "to be big" and could then use an
attributive verbAn attributive verb is a verb A verb, from the Latin ''wikt:verbum#Latin, verbum'' meaning ''word'', is a word (part of speech) that in syntax conveys an action (''bring'', ''read'', ''walk'', ''run'', ''learn''), an occurrence (''happen'', ''bec ...
construction analogous to "big-being house" to express what in English is called a "big house". Such an analysis is possible for the grammar of Standard Chinese, for example. Different languages do not use adjectives in exactly the same situations. For example, where English uses ''"''to be ''hungry''" (''hungry'' being an adjective),
Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * Dutch Castle Places * ...
, French, and
Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambiguation), the name of several ...
use "", "", and "" respectively (literally "to have hunger", the words for "hunger" being nouns). Similarly, where Hebrew uses the adjective (, roughly "in need of"), English uses the verb "to need". In languages that have adjectives as a word class, it is usually an open class; that is, it is relatively common for new adjectives to be formed via such processes as
derivation Derivation may refer to: * Derivation (differential algebra), a unary function satisfying the Leibniz product law * Derivation (linguistics) * Formal proof or derivation, a sequence of sentences each of which is an axiom or follows from the precedi ...
. However,
Bantu languages The Bantu languages (English: , Proto-Bantu: *bantʊ̀) are a large family of languages In human society, family (from la, familia) is a group of people related either by consanguinity (by recognized birth) or affinity (by marriage or o ...
are well known for having only a small closed class of adjectives, and new adjectives are not easily derived. Similarly, native
Japanese adjectives This article deals with Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat ...
(''i''-adjectives) are considered a closed class (as are native verbs), although nouns (an open class) may be used in the
genitive In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as ...
to convey some adjectival meanings, and there is also the separate open class of adjectival nouns (''na''-adjectives).


Adverbs

Many languages (including English) distinguish between adjectives, which qualify nouns and pronouns, and
adverb An adverb is a word or an expression that modifies a verb A verb, from the Latin ''wikt:verbum#Latin, verbum'' meaning ''word'', is a word (part of speech) that in syntax conveys an action (''bring'', ''read'', ''walk'', ''run'', ''learn''), ...

adverb
s, which mainly modify
verb A verb () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many la ...
s, adjectives, or other adverbs. Not all languages make this exact distinction; many (including English) have words that can function as either. For example, in English, ''fast'' is an adjective in "a ''fast'' car" (where it qualifies the noun ''car'') but an adverb in "he drove ''fast''" (where it modifies the verb ''drove''). In
Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * Dutch Castle Places * ...
and
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...
, adjectives and adverbs are usually identical in form and many grammarians do not make the distinction, but patterns of inflection can suggest a difference: : ::A clever new idea. : ::A cleverly developed idea. A German word like ("clever(ly)") takes endings when used as an attributive adjective but not when used adverbially. (It also takes no endings when used as a predicative adjective: , "he is clever".) Whether these are distinct parts of speech or distinct usages of the same part of speech is a question of analysis. It can be noted that, while German linguistic terminology distinguishes from , German refers to both as ("property words").


Determiners

Linguists today distinguish determiners from adjectives, considering them to be two separate parts of speech (or '' lexical categories''). But formerly determiners were considered to be adjectives in some of their uses. Determiners are words that are neither nouns nor pronouns, yet reference a thing already in context. They generally do this by indicating
definiteness In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ...
(''a'' vs. ''the''),
quantity Quantity is a property that can exist as a multitude or magnitude, which illustrate discontinuity and continuity. Quantities can be compared in terms of "more", "less", or "equal", or by assigning a numerical value in terms of a unit of measu ...
(''one'' vs. ''some'' vs. ''many''), or another such property.


Adjective phrases

An adjective acts as the head of an ''adjective phrase'' or ''adjectival phrase'' (AP). In the simplest case, an adjective phrase consists solely of the adjective; more complex adjective phrases may contain one or more
adverb An adverb is a word or an expression that modifies a verb A verb, from the Latin ''wikt:verbum#Latin, verbum'' meaning ''word'', is a word (part of speech) that in syntax conveys an action (''bring'', ''read'', ''walk'', ''run'', ''learn''), ...

adverb
s modifying the adjective ("''very'' strong"), or one or more complements (such as "worth ''several dollars''", "full ''of toys''", or "eager ''to please''"). In English, attributive adjective phrases that include complements typically follow the noun that they qualify ("an evildoer ''devoid of redeeming qualities''").


Other modifiers of nouns

In many languages (including English) it is possible for nouns to modify other nouns. Unlike adjectives, nouns acting as modifiers (called ''attributive nouns'' or ''
noun adjunct A noun () is a word that functions as the name of a specific object or set of objects, such as living creatures, places, actions, qualities, states of existence, or ideas.Example nouns for: * Living creatures (including people, alive, dead or imag ...
s'') usually are not predicative; a beautiful park is beautiful, but a car park is not "car". The modifier often indicates origin ("''Virginia'' reel"), purpose ("''work'' clothes"), semantic
patient A patient is any recipient of health care services that are performed by Health professional, healthcare professionals. The patient is most often Disease, ill or Major trauma, injured and in need of therapy, treatment by a physician, nurse, psych ...
("''man'' eater") or semantic subject ("''child'' actor"); however, it may generally indicate almost any semantic relationship. It is also common for adjectives to be derived from nouns, as in ''boyish'', ''birdlike'', ''behavioral (behavioural)'', ''famous'', ''manly'', ''angelic'', and so on. In
Australian Aboriginal languages The Australian Aboriginal languages consist of around 290–363 languages belonging to an estimated 28 language families A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Si ...
, the distinction between adjectives and nouns is typically thought weak, and many of the languages only use nouns--or nouns with a limited set of adjective-deriving
affix In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most language ...
es--to modify other nouns. In languages that have a subtle adjective-noun distinction, one way to tell them apart is that a modifying adjective can come to stand in for an entire
elided In linguistics, an elision or deletion is broadly defined as the omission of one or more sounds (such as a vowel, a consonant, or a whole syllable) in a word or phrase. However, it is also used to refer more narrowly to cases where two words are r ...
noun phrase, while a modifying noun cannot. For example, in Bardi, the adjective ''moorrooloo'' 'little' in the phrase ''moorrooloo'' ''baawa'' ‘little child’ can stand on its own to mean 'the little one,' while the attributive noun ''aamba'' 'man' in the phrase ''aamba baawa'' 'male child' cannot stand for the whole phrase to mean 'the male one.' In other languages, like Warlpiri, nouns and adjectives are lumped together beneath the nominal umbrella because of their shared syntactic distribution as
arguments In logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, Greek: grc, wikt:λογική, λογική, label=none, lit=possessed of reason, intellectual, dialectical, argumentative, translit=logikḗ)Also related to (''logos''), "word, thought, idea, argument, ...
of predicates. The only thing distinguishing them is that some nominals seem to semantically denote entities (typically nouns in English) and some nominals seem to denote attributes (typically adjectives in English). Many languages have special verbal forms called
participle In linguistics, a participle () (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through t ...
s that can act as noun modifiers (alone or as the head of a phrase). Sometimes participles develop into pure adjectives. Examples in English include ''relieved'' (the past participle of the verb ''relieve'', used as an adjective in sentences such as "I am so ''relieved'' to see you"), ''spoken'' (as in "the ''spoken'' word"), and ''going'' (the present participle of the verb ''go'', used as an adjective in such phrases as "the ''going'' rate"). Other constructs that often modify nouns include
preposition Prepositions and postpositions, together called adpositions (or broadly, in English, simply prepositions), are a used to express spatial or temporal relations (''in'', ''under'', ''towards'', ''before'') or mark various (''of'', ''for''). A pre ...
al phrases (as in "a rebel ''without a cause''"),
relative clause A relative clause is typically a clause that modifies a noun A noun () is a word that functions as the name of a specific object or set of objects, such as living creatures, places, actions, qualities, states of existence, or ideas.Example nouns ...
s (as in "the man ''who wasn't there''"), and
infinitive Infinitive ( ) is a term for certain forms existing in many languages, most often used as s. As with many linguistic concepts, there is not a single definition applicable to all languages. The word is derived from '' odusinfinitivus'', a derivat ...
phrases (as in "a cake ''to die for''"). Some nouns can also take complements such as
content clause In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as wel ...
s (as in "the idea ''that I would do that''"), but these are not commonly considered modifiers. For more information about possible modifiers and dependents of nouns, see Components of noun phrases.


Order

In many languages, attributive adjectives usually occur in a specific order. In general, the adjective order in English can be summarised as: opinion, size, age or shape, colour, origin, material, purpose. Order of adjectives
British Council.
Other language authorities, like the ''
Cambridge Dictionary ''Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary'' 3rd Edition CD-ROM The ''Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary'' (unofficially ''Cambridge English Dictionary'' or ''Cambridge Dictionary'', abbreviated ''CALD'') was first published in 1995 under ...
'', state that shape precedes rather than follows age.R. Declerck,
A Comprehensive Descriptive Grammar of English
' (1991), p. 350: "When there are several descriptive adjectives, they normally occur in the following order: characteristic – size – shape – age – colour – ..
Determiners—articles, numerals and other limiters (e.g. ''three'' blind mice)—come before attributive adjectives in English. Although certain combinations of determiners can appear before a noun, they are far more circumscribed than adjectives in their use—typically, only a single determiner would appear before a noun or noun phrase (including any attributive adjectives).
  1. Quantity - adjectives of number (e.g. two, ten)
  2. Opinion – limiter adjectives (e.g. a ''real'' hero, a ''perfect'' idiot) and adjectives of subjective measure (e.g. ''beautiful'', ''interesting'') or value (e.g. ''good'', ''bad'', ''costly'')
  3. Size – adjectives denoting physical size (e.g. ''tiny'', ''big'', ''extensive'')
  4. Weight - adjectives denoting weight (e.g. ''slim'', ''fat'', ''thin'')
  5. Age – adjectives denoting age (e.g. ''young'', ''old'', ''new'', ''ancient'', ''six-year-old'')
  6. Temperature - Adjectives denoting temperature (e.g. ''cold'', ''warm'', ''hot'')
  7. Humidity - adjectives denoting humidity (e.g. ''dry'', ''wet'')
  8. Shape – adjectives describing more detailed physical attributes than overall size (e.g. ''round'', ''sharp'', ''swollen'')
  9. Colour – adjectives denoting colour (e.g. ''white'', ''black'', ''pale'')
  10. Pattern - adjectives denoting pattern of colour (e.g. ''spotted'', ''crackled'')
  11. Origin – denominal adjectives denoting source (e.g. ''French'', ''volcanic'', ''extraterrestrial'')
  12. Material – denominal adjectives denoting what something is made of (e.g., ''woollen'', ''metallic'', ''wooden'')
  13. Qualifier/purpose – final limiter, which sometimes forms part of the (compound) noun (e.g., ''rocking'' chair, ''hunting'' cabin, ''passenger'' car, ''book'' cover)
This means that, in English, adjectives pertaining to size precede adjectives pertaining to age ("little old", not "old little"), which in turn generally precede adjectives pertaining to colour ("old white", not "white old"). So, one would say "One (quantity) nice (opinion) little (size) old (age) round (shape) 'or'' round oldwhite (colour) brick (material) house." When several adjectives of the same type are used together, they are ordered from general to specific, like "lovely intelligent person" or "old medieval castle". This order may be more rigid in some languages than others; in some, like Spanish, it may only be a default (''
unmarked In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis includ ...
'') word order, with other orders being permissible. Other languages, such as
Tagalog Tagalog may refer to: Language * Tagalog language Tagalog (, ; ) is an Austronesian languages, Austronesian language spoken as a first language by the ethnic Tagalog people, who make up a quarter of the population of the Philippines, and as a se ...
, follow their adjectival orders as rigidly as English. The normal adjectival order of English may be overridden in certain circumstances, especially when one adjective is being fronted. For example, the usual order of adjectives in English would result in the phrase "the bad big wolf" (opinion before size), but instead, the usual phrase is "the big bad wolf". Owing partially to borrowings from French, English has some adjectives that follow the noun as postmodifiers, called
postpositive adjective A postpositive adjective or postnominal adjective is an adjective In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language) ...
s, as in ''time immemorial'' and ''
attorney general In most common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ''Black's Law Dictionar ...
''. Adjectives may even change meaning depending on whether they precede or follow, as in ''proper'': ''They live in a proper town'' (a real town, not a village) vs. ''They live in the town proper'' (in the town itself, not in the suburbs). All adjectives can follow nouns in certain constructions, such as ''tell me something new''.


Comparison (degrees)

In many languages, some adjectives are ''comparable'' and the measure of comparison is called ''degree''. For example, a person may be "polite", but another person may be "''more'' polite", and a third person may be the "''most'' polite" of the three. The word "more" here modifies the adjective "polite" to indicate a comparison is being made, and "most" modifies the adjective to indicate an absolute comparison (a ''superlative''). Among languages that allow adjectives to be compared, different means are used to indicate comparison. Some languages do not distinguish between
comparative In general linguistics, the comparative is a syntactic construction that serves to express a comparison between two (or more) entities or groups of entities in quality or degree - see also comparison (grammar) for an overview of comparison, as well ...

comparative
and
superlative Comparison is a feature in the morphology Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape", may refer to: Disciplines * Morphology (archaeology), study of the shapes or forms of artifacts * Morphology (astronomy), study of the shape of a ...
forms. Other languages allow adjectives to be compared but do not have a special comparative form of the adjective. In such cases, as in some
Australian Aboriginal languages The Australian Aboriginal languages consist of around 290–363 languages belonging to an estimated 28 language families A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Si ...
, case-marking, such as the
ablative case In grammar In linguistics, the grammar (from Ancient Greek ''grammatikḗ'') of a natural language is its set of structure, structural constraints on speakers' or writers' composition of clause (linguistics), clauses, phrases, and words. T ...

ablative case
may be used to indicate one entity has more of an adjectival quality than (i.e. ''from''—hence ABL) another. Take the following example in Bardi: In English, many adjectives can be inflected to
comparative In general linguistics, the comparative is a syntactic construction that serves to express a comparison between two (or more) entities or groups of entities in quality or degree - see also comparison (grammar) for an overview of comparison, as well ...

comparative
and
superlative Comparison is a feature in the morphology Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape", may refer to: Disciplines * Morphology (archaeology), study of the shapes or forms of artifacts * Morphology (astronomy), study of the shape of a ...
forms by taking the suffixes "-er" and "-est" (sometimes requiring additional letters before the suffix; see forms for ''far'' below), respectively: : "great", "greater", "greatest" : "deep", "deeper", "deepest" Some adjectives are ''irregular'' in this sense: : "good", "better", "best" : "bad", "worse", "worst" : "many", "more", "most" (sometimes regarded as an
adverb An adverb is a word or an expression that modifies a verb A verb, from the Latin ''wikt:verbum#Latin, verbum'' meaning ''word'', is a word (part of speech) that in syntax conveys an action (''bring'', ''read'', ''walk'', ''run'', ''learn''), ...

adverb
or
determiner A determiner, also called determinative ( abbreviated ), is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practic ...
) : "little", "less", "least" Some adjectives can have both ''regular'' and ''irregular'' variations: : "old", "older", "oldest" : "far", "farther", "farthest" also : "old", "elder", "eldest" : "far", "further", "furthest" Another way to convey comparison is by incorporating the words "more" and "most". There is no simple rule to decide which means is correct for any given adjective, however. The general tendency is for simpler adjectives and those from
Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxons were a who inhabited . They traced their origins to the 5th century settlement of incomers to Britain, who migrated to the island from the coastlands of . However, the of the Anglo-Saxons occurred within Britain, and the ide ...
to take the suffixes, while longer adjectives and those from ,
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant la ...

Latin
, or
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
do not—but sometimes ''sound'' of the word is the deciding factor. Many adjectives do not naturally lend themselves to comparison. For example, some English speakers would argue that it does not make sense to say that one thing is "more ultimate" than another, or that something is "most ultimate", since the word "ultimate" is already absolute in its semantics. Such adjectives are called ''non-comparable'' or ''absolute''. Nevertheless, native speakers will frequently play with the raised forms of adjectives of this sort. Although "pregnant" is logically non-comparable (either one is pregnant or not), one may hear a sentence like "She looks more and more pregnant each day". Likewise "extinct" and "equal" appear to be non-comparable, but one might say that a language about which nothing is known is "more extinct" than a well-documented language with surviving literature but no speakers, while
George Orwell Eric Arthur Blair (25 June 1903 – 21 January 1950) known by his pen name A pen name, also called a ''nom de plume'' () or a literary double, is a pseudonym (or, in some cases, a variant form of a real name) adopted by an author and printed ...

George Orwell
wrote, "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others". These cases may be viewed as evidence that the base forms of these adjectives are not as absolute in their semantics as is usually thought. Comparative and superlative forms are also occasionally used for other purposes than comparison. In English comparatives can be used to suggest that a statement is only tentative or tendential: one might say "John is more the shy-and-retiring type," where the comparative "more" is not really comparing him with other people or with other impressions of him, but rather, could be substituting for "on the whole" or "more so than not". In Italian, superlatives are frequently used to put strong emphasis on an adjective: means "most beautiful", but is in fact more commonly heard in the sense "extremely beautiful".


Restrictiveness

Attributive adjectives and other noun modifiers may be used either ''restrictively'' (helping to identify the noun's referent, hence "restricting" its reference) or ''non-restrictively'' (helping to describe a noun). For example: :''He was a lazy sort, who would avoid a difficult task and fill his working hours with easy ones.'' ::"difficult" is restrictive – it tells us which tasks he avoids, distinguishing these from the easy ones: "Only those tasks that are difficult". :''She had the job of sorting out the mess left by her predecessor, and she performed this difficult task with great acumen.'' ::"difficult" is non-restrictive – we already know which task it was, but the adjective describes it more fully: "The aforementioned task, which (by the way) is difficult" In some languages, such as
Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambiguation), the name of several ...

Spanish
, restrictiveness is consistently marked; for example, in Spanish means "the difficult task" in the sense of "the task that is difficult" (restrictive), whereas means "the difficult task" in the sense of "the task, which is difficult" (non-restrictive). In English, restrictiveness is not marked on adjectives but is marked on
relative clause A relative clause is typically a clause that modifies a noun A noun () is a word that functions as the name of a specific object or set of objects, such as living creatures, places, actions, qualities, states of existence, or ideas.Example nouns ...
s (the difference between "the man ''who recognized me'' was there" and "the man, ''who recognized me'', was there" being one of restrictiveness).


Agreement

In some languages, adjectives alter their form to reflect the gender, case and number of the noun that they describe. This is called
agreement Agreement may refer to: Agreements between people and organizations * Gentlemen's agreement, not enforceable by law * Trade agreement, between countries * Consensus, a decision-making process * Contract, enforceable in a court of law ** Meeting of ...
or concord. Usually it takes the form of inflections at the end of the word, as in
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant la ...

Latin
: : In
Celtic languages The Celtic languages ( , ) are a group of related languages descended from Proto-Celtic The Proto-Celtic language, also called Common Celtic, is the ancestral proto-language In the tree model In historical linguistics Historica ...
, however, initial consonant
lenition In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ...
marks the adjective with a feminine singular noun, as in
Irish Irish most commonly refers to: * Someone or something of, from, or related to: ** Ireland, an island situated off the north-western coast of continental Europe ** Northern Ireland, a constituent unit of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and North ...
: : Often, distinction is made here between attributive and predicative usage. In English, adjectives never agree, whereas in French, they always agree. In German, they agree only when they are used attributively, and in Hungarian, they agree only when they are used predicatively: :


See also

*
Attributive verbAn attributive verb is a verb A verb, from the Latin ''wikt:verbum#Latin, verbum'' meaning ''word'', is a word (part of speech) that in syntax conveys an action (''bring'', ''read'', ''walk'', ''run'', ''learn''), an occurrence (''happen'', ''bec ...
*
Flat adverb In English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, ...
*
Grammatical modifier In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most language ...
*
Intersective modifierIn linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include pho ...
* List of eponymous adjectives in English *
Noun adjunct A noun () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many l ...
*
Postpositive adjective A postpositive adjective or postnominal adjective is an adjective In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language) ...
*
Predication (philosophy) Predication in philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of lan ...
* Privative adjective * Proper adjective *
Subsective modifierIn linguistics, a subsective modifier is an expression which grammatical modifier, modifies another by delivering a subset of its denotation. For instance, the English adjective "skilled" is subsective since being a skilled surgeon entails being a su ...


Notes and references


Notes


References


Further reading

* * * Dixon, R.M.W. (1999). Adjectives. In K. Brown & T. Miller (Eds.), ''Concise encyclopedia of grammatical categories'' (pp. 1–8). Amsterdam: Elsevier. . * * Warren, Beatrice. (1984). ''Classifying adjectives''. Gothenburg studies in English (No. 56). Göteborg: Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis. . *


External links

*wikt:Appendix:English collateral adjectives, List of English collateral adjectives at Wiktionary {{Authority control Parts of speech