The definition of the adjective tells us it is a word used to modify a noun.
Sometimes it is easier to think of the adjective as describing the noun, but modifying is ‘limiting,’ or make more definite the meaning of the noun. Adjectives modify nouns or pronouns in any one of three different ways.
- By telling what kind:
- Brown eyes, small town, or smart student
- By pointing out which one
- This woman, that suggestion
- By telling how many
- Several reasons, ten players
As you can see in these examples, the normal position of an adjective is directly before the word it modifies. Occasionally, for stylistic or dramatic reasons, a writer may use adjectives after the word they modify.
For example: The night, cold and foggy, drove us indoors.
There are also predicate adjectives. These are separate from the word they modify by a verb. (We will talk more about predicates when we are futher along.)
For example: Samantha is pretty.
George looked pensive.
The dinner was delicious.
Her hand felt cold.
One of the things to look out for is words that can be used as an adjective and a pronoun. Some words can be used as more than one part of speech. See the list below for words that can be used both as pronouns and as adjectives.
Nouns are also sometimes used as adjectives.
- Sofa cushion
- Bread pudding
- Hotel lobby
- Glass beads
As illustrated with these examples, an adjective describes the noun, but it can be used in many different ways. Using the adjective in different ways will enhance your writing and give it a great deal of range.