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Adjectives: Definition and Degrees

By on January 13, 2011

An adjective is a word used to describe or modify a noun or pronoun. It is used to explain or describe the subject or object of a sentence. For example the sentence “Mary has hair” sounds strange, but by using adjectives the sentence can look like this. “Beautiful Mary has long, golden hair.” These kinds of words are a major key to good creative writing skills.

There are so many of these lovely descriptive words, because they describe the colors, sizes, shapes, textures, and other various attributes of nouns and pronouns. Examples are words like tiny, gigantic, glossy, sharp, easy, purple, smart, beautiful, compassionate, leafy and etc.

Adjectives and adverbs are very similar, but not the same. An adverb can be used to modify everything except nouns and pronouns. They usually modify verbs, but they can also be used to modify an adjective or adverb.

Comparing adjectives compare one thing to another. Comparing adjectives have a comparative form and a superlative form. Comparative adjectives compare two nouns or pronouns and usually end in “er” while Superlative adjectives compare more than two things or all things of that type, and usually end in “est” Some verbs have a specific and unique form just for their superlative and comparative form. For example: “good, better, best.” Two syllable and three syllable adjectives such as beautiful use a two word comparison such as “more beautiful, and the superlative is “most beautiful.” This is true unless the two syllable adjective ends in “er,” “le” or “ow.”
Here are some examples:

Adjective Comparative adjective Superlative adjective
small smaller smallest
dark darker darkest
good better best
bad worse worst
interesting most interesting most interesting
fruitful more fruitful most fruitful
gentle gentler gentlest

Many writers find a list of adjectives helpful. Being able to think of just the right adjective at any given time is an art, but even artists sometimes need tools to help them. A list of adjectives can be found on line, and a thesaurus can also be helpful in searching for just the right synonym for a word used too often in a sentence.

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