Adjectives are an essential part of writing and speaking. They play a major role in descriptive language – and enable us to describe people, places and objects with descriptors such as colors, scents and moods. Knowing how to use adjectives will help strengthen your skills as a writer.
Adjectives in Narrative Passages
An adjective is a descriptor. Names of colors, types of texture, descriptions of height, different scents and moods are all adjectives. For example, in Thomas Wolfe's "Look Homeward, Angel," Wolfe's use of adjectives is particularly evocative: "He remembered yet the East India Tea House at the Fair, the sandalwood, the turbans, and the robes, the cool interior and the smell of India tea; and he had felt now the nostalgic thrill of dew-wet mornings in Spring, the cherry scent, the cool clarion earth, the wet loaminess of the garden, the pungent breakfast smells and the floating snow of blossoms," as cited in Connecticut State Colleges and Universities. The adjectives in this passage are "the (East India Tea House); "the cool," (interior); "the nostalgic," (thrill); "dew-wet," (mornings;) "the cherry,"(scent); "the cool clarion," (earth); "the wet loaminess," (of the garden); "the pungent breakfast" (smells); and "the floating snow" (of blossoms.) Also, articles "a," "an," and "the" that appear before the noun they describe are also adjectives.
Group adjectives together with a noun and a verb to create an adjective clause. For example, "Thomas, who is studying in France, is visiting this week." The adjective clause is "who is studying in France," because this group of words describes a noun -- Thomas -- and contains a noun and verb. The noun in this clause is "France" and the verb is "studying."
Position of Adjectives
Position adjectives right before or right after the noun they describe. Also, if two or more adjectives describe a noun, a specific order exists that the adjectives must follow, which is the following: determiner, observation, size, shape, age, color, origin, material and qualifier. For example, "The shiny, Italian, sports car belongs to my brother." "The" is the determiner, followed by three adjectives –"shiny" is the observation, "Italian" is the origin and "sports" is the qualifier.
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