How to Use Adjectives Effectively

Adjectives are describing words. They tell us what something looks like, feels like, smells like, sounds like and tastes like. Still, as easy as that may sound, you may not be using them correctly or to their full potential. Here are some tips on how to adjectives effectively.

HOW TO USE ADJECTIVES EFFECTIVELY

Example 1

Adjectives are often placed just before the noun they are describing.

  • The dog sprinted towards the pond.’

This sentence tells us what the dog has done. If we want to tell the reader or listener that the dog is ‘angry’ we must put the adjective before one of the nouns in the sentence.

  • The angry dog sprinted towards the pond.’

Where do you think the word ‘beautiful’ could go in the sentence below?

  • The dress was in the shop.’

The nouns in the sentence are ‘dress’ and ‘shop’.  As we know, adjectives are often placed before a noun. The word ‘beautiful’ could go here.

  • The beautiful dress was in the shop.’

Although the adjective ‘beautiful’ could be used to describe the shop, the adjective ‘beautiful’ is used more to describe objects and things that are normally seen as pretty.

 

Quiz Sign - Simply Better English
Quiz Sign – Simply Better English

Activity 1

Try to place the adjectives ‘mean’ ‘tasty’ and ‘bright’ in the correct places in the sentences below.

  • ‘The man was wearing a suit.’
  • ‘On Tuesday, I ate a banana.’
  • ‘The shop assistant frowned.’

Activity 2

Read the short paragraph below and try and find the adjectives in the paragraph. Remember, if you can locate the noun, you can locate the adjective.

  • ‘I went to the charming park. It was a special place. At the park, there was a colourful and sparkly waterfall.  It shimmered in the bright light. I could hear the brown ducks splashing in the water. The yellow sun shone.’ 

ADJECTIVES AND PUNCTUATION

Like in many languages, commas in lists are often used when a number of adjectives are included in the sentence.

Example 2

  • The meal was fantastic and superb and tasty.’

Although this is grammatically correct, instead of the first ‘and’ a comma would be used in its place.

  • ‘The meal was fantastic, superb and tasty.’

This rule would still be followed if more than three adjectives were used.

Example 3

  • I ate the fantastic, amazing, filling, superb and tasty meal.’

As I am sure you can imagine, including commas instead of the many ‘ands’ in this sentence, makes it sounds less tedious. This is a technique you can use when you are speaking English too.

Quiz Sign - Simply Better English
Quiz Sign – Simply Better English

Activity 3

Try to add the words in brackets to the sentences below. Don’t forget the commas too!

  • I enjoy watching films‘. (funny, serious, educational)
  • My teacher was early‘. (happy, fantastic, brilliant)
  • I have a phone‘. (funky, cool and reliable)

Here is another tip to help you with using adjectives effectively.

We have looked at placing adjectives at the beginning of a sentence but they can sometimes go at the end of the sentence or clause.

Example 4

  • The incredible view could be seen from my window.’

In this sentence, the adjective describes the view. We could rearrange the sentence and it would still have a similar meaning.

  • ‘The view, that could be seen from my window, was incredible.’

In this example, the adjective goes at the end.

Example 5

  • ‘The dinner was delicious.’

When the adjective is placed at the end of a sentence or a clause, its job is to describe the noun that the sentence is about.

Here are some more examples to show how adjectives could be placed at the end of a sentence or a clause.

  • My laptop is superb.’
  • ‘Jamie’s work was brilliant.’

If you really want to show off your ability to use adjectives, you could use both rules and place them before the noun you are describing and at the end of the sentence.

  • ‘The beautiful view was breath-taking.’
  • ‘The fantastic concert was amazing.’

Read the sentences below.  What do you notice about the order of the adjectives in the sentence below?

  • ‘The tower was fabulous, huge and black.’
  • ‘The star was bright, small and gold.’

In English, when listing adjectives, there is an order that is usually followed.

Adjectives are typically in the order of opinion, size and then colour. There are more details about the order in which adjectives are placed, however, opinion, size and colour is a good place to start.

ADJECTIVES IN WRITING

When writing, it is always the author’s job to keep the piece interesting. This can be done using adjectives.

Example 6

  • ‘John sat by the tree.’

This sentence tells us what John is doing. However, if the writer had used the name John to start the previous two sentences, an adjective could be used as a sentence starter.

  • ‘Fantastic John sat by the tree.’

This easy technique can be used to make writing less tedious.

  • ‘Shelly bought a bouquet of flowers.’

Again, this sentence tells us what the character Shelly has done.  This is grammatically correct but we could make the sentence more interesting.

  • Amazing Shelly bought a bouquet of flowers.’

ANSWERS

Activity 1

There are a few answers for this activity.  Here are a few possible answers.  The main thing to always keep in mind is to place the adjective before the noun.

  • ‘The man was wearing a bright suit’.
  • ‘On Tuesday, I ate a tasty banana’.
  • ‘The mean shop assistant frowned’.

Activity 2

How many did you find?

‘I went to the charming park. It was a special place. At the park, there was a colourful and sparkly waterfall. It shimmered in the bright light. I could hear the brown ducks splashing in the water. The yellow sun shone.’

Activity 3

  • ‘I enjoy watching funny, serious and educational films.’
  • ‘My happy, fantastic and brilliant teacher was early.’
  • ‘I have a funky, cool and reliable phone.’

Through this article, we have looked at how to use adjectives effectively. Feel free to leave a comment to let me know how you found the activities. Were they easy or hard?

If you scored 100%, it is time to move onto another area of English grammar. Check out our post on adverbs.

2 Responses

  • Funny, serious, educational; those are some of the adjectives in the first sentence of the second activity. I know that if I keep taking this course, my language shall improve so much. I am glad to to be here.

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