What is Adjective?
‘Adjective’ literally means ‘added to’. An adjective modifies or describes a noun. It’s a word used with a noun to describe, qualify or point out a person, animal, place or thing or to tell the number or quantity of some nouns, as in the following sentences:
1. Razia is a good girl. (‘Girl’, of what kind?)
2. I do not like clever people. (Which ‘people’?)
3. My mother gave me ten rupees. (How many ‘rupees’?)
4. There is very little time to set the house in order. (How much ‘time’?)
(I)Adjectives of quality, as:
Lahore is a large city.
He is an industrious worker.
Such adjectives answer the question: Of what kind?
(ii) Adjectives of quantity, as:
He spent his entire fortune on helping the poor.
There has not been sufficient rain this year.
Such adjectives answer the question: How much?
(iii) Adjectives of number, as:
All men must die.
The cow has two horns.
Such adjectives answer the question: How many?
Note: The same adjective may be classed as adjective of quantity as well as number, according to its use, as:
He has lost all his wealth. (Quantity)
All the students have passed. (Number)
I need some money. (Quantity)
Some boys are talking in the library. (Number)
Rules Regarding the Use of Adjectives
I. Many adjectives are formed from Nouns, as:
boy – boyish, book – bookish, air – airy, sun – sunny.
II. Some adjectives are formed from verbs, as:
talk – talkative, sleep – sleepy, read – readable.
III. Adjectives have three degrees:
I. Comparison of Adjectives:
(a) Shahid is a clever boy.
(b) Shahid is cleverer than his friends.
(c) Shahid is the cleverest boy in the class.
II. ‘Late’ ‘later’ and ‘latest’ refer to time:
(a) Why did you come late?
(b) She came later than I expected.
(c) What is the latest news about the elections?
III. Latter and last refer to position;
(a) Akbar and Aslam are brothers; the latter is my friend.
(b) The last chapter of the book is missing.
IV. A single adjective is generally placed before the noun, as:
(a) Akbar was a great king.
V. In poetry, however, the adjective is frequently placed after the noun as:
(a) He parted from his sisters dear.
VI. In certain phrases the adjective always comes after the noun, as: heir apparent, time immemorial, president-elect, notary public.
VII. To express quantity or degree, ‘some’ is used normally in affirmative sentences, ‘any’ in negative or interrogative sentences, as:
(a) I bought some bananas.
(b) I will not buy any bananas.
(c) Have you bought any bananas?
‘Some’ is also used in questions which are really offers/ requests or which expect the answer “Yes”, as:
(a) Will you have some tea? (offer)
(b) Could you lend me some money? (request)
(c) Have you bought some vegetables? (I expect you have.)
VIII. ‘Little’, ‘A Little’ and ‘the Little’.
(a) Little means negligible or not any, as:
(b) There is little hope of his recovery.
A little means some though not much, as
(a) There is a little hope of his recovery.
The little means not much, but all there is, as:
(a) The little information he had about the theft was not quite reliable.
IX. ‘Few’, ‘A Few’ and ‘the Few’
Similarly, few means hardly any, or not any,
(a) Few students took the examination.
A few means some as:
(a) A few students took the examination.
The few means not many, but all there are as:
(a) The few students that took the examination have failed.
X. Adjectives preceded by ‘the’ are used as collective nouns, as: the rich, the poor, the wicked, the meek, the aged, etc.
(a) The rich should help the poor.
(b) We must respect the aged.
(c) The wicked shall be punished.
XI. Some adjectives if used in the plural denote nouns as: eatables, vegetables, movables, sweets.
XII. Some adjectives are also used as nouns in the singular as well as in the plural:
Indian – Indians, European – Europeans, Australian – Australians.
Senior – seniors, better – betters, minor – minors, great – greats.
XIII. Certain comparative adjectives take ‘to’ instead of ‘than’ as:
superior to, inferior to, senior to, junior to.
XIV. Certain comparative adjectives have lost their comparative meaning and are used as positives, as: ‘former’, ‘latter’, ‘inner’, ‘outer’, ‘utter’, as:
(a) He still supports his former wife.
(b) The latter part of the debate was not properly heard.
(c) He has sold his house in the inner city.
(d) He heard a voice in the outer room.
(e) He is an utter fool.
XV. Similarly, ‘ulterior’ , ‘major’, ‘minor’, ‘interior’ and ‘exterior’ are positive adjectives, as:
an ulterior motive, a major operation, a minor fault, the interior minister, the exterior walls of the house.
XVI. Major, minor, interior, and exterior are also used as nouns:
(a) He is a major in the Pakistan Army.
(b) My nephew is a minor.
(c) The interior of the house needs painting.
(d) The exterior of the building was graceful.
XVII. The adjective preferable is used as a comparative. It is generally followed by to, as:
(a) Gradual change is preferable to sudden change.
XVIII. When two comparative degrees are used together, the one formed by using more should follow the other degree, as:
(a) Sana is wiser and more industrious than his brother.
XIX. When two superlative degrees are used together, the one formed by using most should come after the other superlative degree as:
(a) He is the best and most reliable friend of mine.
XX. Two adjectives which refer to the same noun or pronoun joined by a conjunction must be in the same degree, as:
(a) Nadia is the wisest and noblest woman I have come across so far.
XXI. Two persons or things can be compared without using the comparative degree, as
(a) Ayesha is not as beautiful as Fatima (without using the comparative degree)
(b) Fatima is more beautiful than Ayesha (using the comparative degree)
XXII. The adverb comparatively is always followed by the positive degree as:
(a) My new house is comparatively spacious. (not more spacious)
XXIII. Had better is always followed by the first form of the verb, as:
(a) You had better leave this city.
XIV. Never say all the more better. The correct phrase is all the better, as:
(a) It’s all the better if your brother also lives with you.