The Adjective in English

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What is an adjective?

An adjective «modifies» a noun. That means it tells us something about the noun. Adjectives are used to describe nouns.

An adjective describes how something «is». For this reason, we often use the verb «to be» when using adjectives. He is a good doctor. They are happy.

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They almost always go before the noun in English. beautiful trees,fat man, big truck. Not: an apple red

The adjective is always invariable (does not change). Unlike how they behave in other languages, adjectives in English do not change with singular or plural, masculine, feminine, or neuter nouns.

• Adjectives don’t have a singular and plural form OR a masculine, feminine and neuter form. Big rooster, big chicken, small cow, small bull, big chickens, big roosters, a red car, ten red cars, one red flower, ten red flowers

• Adjectives are always the same! Never add a final «s» to an adjective. It is red apples,

not reds apples!

Possessive Adjective

Many English earners have trouble with the possessive adjectives:my, your, his, her, its, our, and their. They are called possessive because they refer to possession; they tell us to whom something belongs, or who is the owner of something.

Sara asked if you have you seen her brother?

The pronoun «her» replaces a word like «Sarah’s».

Many learners make the mistake of writing, Sara asked if you have seen his brother. The correct form is, Sara asked if you have seen her brother.

Similarly, it is wrong to write «The boy saw her sister». Many make this mistake because they know that the word sister is feminine and they want to make the possessive adjective agree with the noun sister. They probably do this because in their language the adjective always has to agree in gender with the noun. But in English the adjective does not change.

The correct form is «The boy saw his sister». We will see that in English the possessive adjective has the gender (masculine or feminine) according to the person who is the possessor or owner of the thing under discussion. In our example, it is a boy who has the relation to the sister, so it is HIS sister not her sister. although of course the sister is feminine. If you were writing about a girl, it would be her brother.

It doesn’t matter if John’s cousin is a boy or a girl, you will always write his cousin. Joe is his cousin and Martha is his cousin. It is the same with Mary’s cousins; they are her cousins. Alphonse is her cousin just as Mathilde is her cousin.

The possessive adjective his and her only refer to human beings, not for other beings such as a dog, a house, etc. There is a special possessive adjective for this beings:its. Learn right now that this pronoun is spelled its NOTit’s.

In English possessive adjectives can also refer to animals and things.

For example, the dog has its tail, and the house has its patio.

POSSESSIVE ADJECTIVES WITH NOUNS THAT «BELONG» TO ONE PERSON OR THING

Let’s look at the possessive adjective with different types of nouns.

  • People: (as explained above)
  • Joe is his cousin, Martha is his cousin.
  • Ideas and Natural Phenomena:
  • The sea sends its storms. Nature shows its beauty.
  • Animals:
  • The chicken hides its eggs. The cat cleansits fur.
  • Lifeless things:

Every house has its patio.

The horse eats its food. It is usually wrong to write: «The horse eats his food», unless you want to clarify that it is a stallion (male) and not a mare (female) you are writing about. However, nowadays in the United States, most people live in cities and could not distinguish he gender of the animals they talk about. So you usually would not make a difference in your writing.

POSSESSIVE ADJECTIVES WITH NOUNS THAT «BELONG» TO MORE THAN ONE «OWNER»

It is only with singular nouns that the possessive adjective changes according to the gender of the possessor or owner, NOT of the thing possessed. The possessor can be masculine, feminine, or neuter.

Remember that we just saw that you should write The boy saw his sister. and The girl loves her brother.

However, there is no change according to the gender of the possessed when they are plural. The possessive adjective for more than one thing is alwaystheir.

  • People:

The children’s parents are their parents.

The women have their hats.

The men have their shoes.

  • Animals:

The bulls have their tails and the cows have their tails.

Birds and airplanes havetheir wings.

All the dogs have their masters.

  • Ideas and Natural Phenomena:

The glory of the concepts Liberté, Egalité y Fraternité resides in their appeal to the human heart.

Sunsets have their special beauty.

All the gardens have their flowers.

…………………………………………………………………

The following chart may help you plan your writing:

The possessive adjective

Man He loves his father. He loves his mother.

More than one man They love their father. They love their mother.

Woman She loves her father. She loves her mother.

More than one woman They love their father. They love their mother.

You You love your father You love your mother.

I I love my father. I love my mother.

We We love our uncles We love our aunts.

Animal The dog loves its master, Juan. The dog loves its mistress, María.

More than one animal The dogs love their masters and their mistresses

Here are a few more sample uses of the possessive adjective:

I’ll get my books.

Is that your car over there?

That is his teacher, Mrs. Mary. Jones.

They bought their children a lot of presents.

I want to go to her store.

Its color is red.

Can we bring our children?

You are welcome to invite your husbands.

Possessive Adjective Exercise.

Write the correct form in the space provided.

Answers at end of article

1. Carmen said, «This is ____ dog with ____ short tail».

2. We put on ____ raincoats.

3. I get a lift to school. ____ father drops me off on ____ way to work

4. The students use ______ own tools in the shop class.

5. What a beautiful horse! _____ eyes are so bright.

6. Henry’s mother said that she had better things to do with _____ precious time.

7. I’ll buy _____ tickets if you buy _____.

8. I’ll help you find _____ things? Is that _____ hat over there?

9. Mother, this is ____ new teacher, and Susan also wants to introduce ____ of the artilcnew teacher.

10. José and Pierre have a new store. _______ business is very successful.

11. Mary rides _____ bicycle to school in good weather.

12. Can we bring _____ children?

13. All members are welcome to invite ____ husbands.

14. Fish get oxygen through ______ gills.

15. Henry forgot ____ book at home. He called ____ mother and asked her to bring it to him.

The Demonstrative Adjective

The demonstrative adjectives (this, that, these, those) «modify» the noun in a sentence at the same time that they indicate the nearness or distance of the noun in reference to the point of view of the person who is talking or writing.

They are adjectives because they tell us something more about a noun. They are demonstrative because they indicate or point out something. For example.

I like this cake here. I don’t like that cake over there.

The word «this» points out something or somebody that is nearby. For example, This shirt that I am wearing is too big.

The word «that» indicates something that is farther away. For example, That shirt hanging in the closet is too small.

It is the same with the word «these» to point out several things that are close, and «those» for other things are not so close. For example, These drawings you are looking at are his favorites. Those on the wall did not turn out so well.

Demonstrative Adjectives

make no change for Male or Female nouns

Singular……..Plural

NEAR This man These men

This woman These women

FAR That girl Those boys

That boy Those girls

Here’s some good news for in your writing!

In English the same word is used for the Demonstrative Adjective and the Demonstrative Pronoun (see the Demonstrative Pronoun article of this series ).

Therefore the word, this (singular) indicates closeness. It could be an adjective: This boy here is my son. or it could be a pronoun: I like this.

The word, that(singular) indicates distance. It can be an adjective: That boy over there is my nephew. or a pronoun: I don’t like that..

The word, these (plural) indicates closeness. It could be an adjective: These pies here are my favorites. or a pronoun: I like these..

The word, those (plural) indicates distance. It could be an adjective: Those cakes over there are made of chocolate. or a pronoun: I prefer those..

Remember that the demonstrative adjectives and pronouns only change to indicate whether it is a question of one thing or person or of more than one. They do not change for the gender of the person pointed out.

Demonstrative Adjective Exercise

Insert the proper demonstrative adjective. Choose among that, these, this, those.

Answers at end of article

I can’t finish _______ pie. Would you like some?

Hello, _______ is Raúl speaking. Hello. How are you, Raúl? _____ is Ahmed.

Hey, Jill, is _______ your ring? I’ve just found it on the floor.

Look at _______ woman over there. She’s a Spanish teacher

Jane painted _______ oil painting and also ________ watercolor.

Look at _______ paintings over there. What fabulous colors!

Don’t take _______ mug from the shelf, it’s broken. Take _____ one.

Listen! _______ awful dog next door is barking again.

His uncle, who lived in the old country, told him that in _______ days they didn’t have enough food.

_______ mountains in the distance are the Alps.

Mmm. I love _______ pancakes. They’re home-made, aren’t they?

_______ is my house; _______ one is my sister’s.

Jones and Pérez are very rich. _______ is their expensive car over there. I am very poor. _____ is my Civic.

_______ are my friends in this room; _________ people over there are from Boston.

_______ are beautiful flowers in the next field.

_______ pair of shoes is similar to mine.

______ mannequins over there look real.

_____ shoes fit my feet well.

There are problems with ______ research paper.

______ paintings in that room are beautiful.

______ haunted house were scary.

______ comedians kept us laughing all night.

You must have been joking about_____ new idea of yours.

_____ classrooms are full of tiny desks.

Participial Adjectives: ending with the letters ed / ing

A participial adjective modifies a noun and may indicate:

The source or cause of feeling or emotion

  • The state of mind of the person who receives the feeling or emotion

The PRESENT PARTICIPIAL ADJECTIVE ends with the letters ING

PAST PARTICIPIAL ADJECTIVE most often ends with the letters ED

The Present Participial Adjectivefunctions as an adjective and is formed from an active verb.

If I say that a book is interesting. I am saying that it has the capacity or ability to interest someone. If I say that another book is boring, I am saying that it is the kind of book that might bore readers.

You will see other words ending with «ing». You will see the common verb form that ends in «ing». For example «I am reading» indicates something that is going on at the moment. It is not the participial adjective. It is the present progressive tense because it indicates that something is in progress in the present.

Well, the present participial adjective is not very different. In a sense, the participial adjective is very close to the present progressive tense. When I say that the book is interesting (participial adjective), it could be understood that the book is interesting me. (present progressive of the verb) at the time that makea the statement.

Similarly the past participial adjective is similar to the past participal of the verb. Continue examining the similiarties.

The Past Participial Adjectiveserves as an adjective and is formed from the passive form of the verb, which is formed with the past participle of the verb.. (See the article on the verb in this series.)

You have to know the difference among the other words ending with «ed».. For example: I closed the door. indicates something that is happened in the past. It is not the participial adjective. It is the simple past tense ending in «ed». The passive form of the verb may use the same word. For example. The store was closed by the police. An example of the past participial adjective is: He has a closed mind.

More Examples:

Idi Amin governed his nation with corruption and cruelty. (simple past)

In theory, a democracy is governed by the people. (passive verb)

Therefore the rights of the governed must be protected. (past participial adjective)

The journalist shocked the country with her news story. (simple past)

The electrician was shocked by the current in an uncovered wired. (passive verb)

The electrician was shocked when he saw his daughter’s miniskirt. (past participial adjective)

Remember that a participial adjective modifies a noun indicating either:

  • the source or cause of the feeling, emotion,
  • or the state of mind of the person who receives the feeling or emotion.

The difference between the present participial adjective (the «ing» form) and the past participial adjective (the «ed» or «d» form) often is the following. The «ing» form modifies a noun and indicates the source or cause of the feeling or emotion, while the «ed» form modifies a noun and tells us the result of the emotion.

The misuse of the present and past participles is common among those who are learning English. Many of my students say «Carmen is interesting in learning English. Of course this is wrong. Carmen is not the cause of the interest but rather is the receiver of the interest. The language is the cause. English is interesting. Carmen is the recipient and should say, «I am interested in learning English.»

Here are a few more examples of Participial Adjectives that deal with feelings:

CAUSE OF THE FEELING RECEIVER OF THE FEELING

embarrassing embarrassed

My brother’s mistake was embarrassing. I was very embarrassed.

frustrating frustrated

The puzzle was frustrating. It left me very frustrated.

amusing amused

It was amusing to see my mother-in law fall on her behind. She was not amused.

tiring tired

Rowing the boat was very tiring. At the end of the day, I was very tired.

stunning stunned

She wore a stunning dress. I was stunned by the reaction of the press.

humiliating humiliated

It is humiliating to criticized in public. I was humiliated when my boss corrected me.

relaxing relaxed

Lying on a beach is very relaxing. After a few hours, I feel very relaxed.

By now you should have the idea; do the remain in pairs by yourself.

exciting excited

annoying annoyed

offending offended

astonishing astonished

intriguing intrigued

overwhelming overwhelmed

encouraging encouraged

satisfied shocked

surprising surprised

frightening frightened

interesting interested

Participial Adjective Exercise

Fill in the blanks with the correct forms.

Answers at end of article

1. Grammar rules frustrate me. They’re not logical. They are so __________.

2. They frustrate me but they don’t bore me. I am never __________ when I study grammar.

3. Normally a language class stimulates me. Of course, it depends on the teacher. With some teachers I don’t feel __________.

4. Their classes bore me. And I’m not the only one. Many students find these classes very __________.

5. If teachers want to interest the students, they have to show that they are __________ in the material.

6. How can teachers interest students? One way is to have __________ discussions.

7. Certain subjects interest almost everybody. For example, most students are __________ in the subject of crime and morality.

8. It’s important to speak in a language class, but it frightens many students. They are too __________ to speak in front of so many people.

9. And me? Well, certain things frighten me, but not giving speech. I am never __________ when I speak in class.

10. Exams, however, really frighten me. Exams are the only __________ thing in a language course.

11. Exams tire me, both physically and emotionally. After a two-hour exam I am really __________.

12. All the mental effort exhausts the student. Ask anybody. They all agree. Exams are __________.

13. But if I get a good grade, now that excites me. And if I get more than ninety percent, I am really __________.

14. In conclusion, I must confess that languages fascinate me. I will always want to learn a new and __________ language.

ANSWERS

Possessive Adjective Exercise: Answers

1. Carmen said, «This is my dog with its short tail».

2. We put on our raincoats.

3. I get a lift to school. my father drops me off on his way to work.

4. The students use their own tools in the shop class.

5. What a beautiful horse! its eyes are so bright.

but… What a beautiful filly! Her eyes are so bright.

6. Henry’s mother said that she had better things to do with her precious time.

7. I’ll buy your tickets if you buy mine.

8. I’ll help you find your things? Is that your hat over there?

9. Mother, this is my new teacher, and Susan also wants to introduce her new teacher.

10. José and Pierre have a new store. Their business is very successful.

11. Mary rides her bicycle to school in good weather.

12. Can we bring our children?

13. All members are welcome to invite their husbands.

14. Fish get oxygen through their gills.

15. Henry forgot his book at home. He called his mother and asked her to bring it to him.

Demonstrative Adjective Exercise: Answers

  • I can’t finish this pie. Would you like some?
  • Hello, this is Raúl speaking. Hello. How are you, Raúl? This is Ahmed.
  • Hey, Jill, is this your ring? I’ve just found it on the floor.
  • Look at that woman over there. She’s a Spanish teacher
  • Jane painted that oil painting on the wall and also take a look at this watercolor.
  • Look at that painting over there. What fabulous colors!
  • Don’t take that mug from the shelf, it’s broken. Take this one.
  • Listen! that awful dog next door is barking again.
  • His uncle, who fought in World War II, told him that in those days they didn’t have enough food.
  • Those mountains in the distance are the Alps.
  • Mmm. I love these pancakes. They’re home-made, aren’t they?
  • This is my house; that one is my sister’s.
  • Jones and Perez are rich. That is their BMW over there. I am poor. this is my Civic.
  • These are my friends in this room; those_ people over there are from Boston.
  • Those are beautiful flowers in the next field.
  • That pair of shoes is similar to mine.
  • Those mannequins over there look real.
  • These shoes fit my feet well.
  • There are problems with this research paper.
  • Those paintings in that room are beautiful. I like them more than these.
  • Those haunted houses were scary.
  • Those comedians kept us laughing all night.
  • You must have been joking about that new idea of yours.

24. These classrooms are full of tiny desks.

Participial Adjective Exercise: Answers

  1. Grammar rules frustrate me. They’re not logical. They are so frustrating
  2. They frustrate me but they don’t bore me. I am never bored when I study grammar.
  3. Normally a language class stimulates me. Of course, it depends on the teacher. With some teachers I don’t feel stimulated.
  4. Their classes bore me. And I’m not the only one. Many students find these classes very boring.
  5. If teachers want to interest the students, they have to show that they are interested in the material.
  6. How can teachers interest students? One way is to have interesting discussions.
  7. Certain subjects interest almost everybody. For example, most students are interested in the subject of morality
  8. It’s important to speak in a language class, but it frightens many students. They are too frightened to speak in front of so many people.
  9. And me? Well, certain things frighten me, but not giving speech. I am never frightened when I speak in class.
  10. Exams, however, really frighten me. Exams are the only frightening thing in a language course.
  11. Exams tire me, both physically and emotionally. After a two-hour exam I am really tired.
  12. All the mental effort exhausts the student. Ask anybody. They all agree. Exams are tiring.
  13. But if I get a good grade now that excites me. And if I get more than ninety percent, I am really excited!
  14. In conclusion, I must confess that languages fascinate me. I will always want to learn a new and fascinating language.
  15. ………………………………………..

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