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This article is part of the grammar course.

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Adjectives are one of the basic word classes. They are one of the semantic group which carry most of the meaning of the sentence.

  • In Primary School, adjectives were called 'describing words'.
  • In Secondary School, they were 'words used to qualify (say more about) nouns'.
  • The more modern basis of Word Classes is to consider the ways words are used. Notice that an adjective is a word that can be placed between 'the' or 'a' and a noun in order to tell us more about the noun. Examples are: a red car; a large drink; a naughty child; a vicious dog; the American people; a beautiful sunset; the cold weather; the third door; a good idea; an Impressionist painting; the Communist theory; etc.

Adjectives can be inflected - that is, they can change their shape, particularly the ending, for different grammatical usages. In the case of adjectives, the inflection is for comparison. In English, adjectives (and adverbs) have three degrees of comparison:

There is a little more on this at Degree of comparison.

The words this, these, that and those can be used as adjectives as well as as pronouns, as in the sentence "I like these bananas": see demonstrative adjectives for more on this technicality.