T he Adjective Recognize an adjective when you see one. Adjectives describe nouns by answering one of these three questions: What kind is it? How many are there? Which one is it? An adjective can be a single word, a phrase, or a clause. Check out these examples: Wh a t k ind is it? Dan decided t hat t he fuzzy green bread would make an unappet iz ing s andwich.
What kind of bread? Fuzzy and green! What kind of sandwich? Unappetizing! A fri end wit h a fat wa lle t will never want for weekend s hopping part ners .
What kind of friend? One with money to spend! A t owel that is st ill war m fro m the dr yer is more comfort ing t han a hot fudge s undae.
What kind of towel? One right out of the dryer. Ho w m any ar e th er e? Seven hungry s pace aliens s lit hered into t he di ner and ordered t wo dozen vanilla milks hakes .
How many hungry space aliens? Seven! The st udents , five freshmen and six sopho mores, braved Dr. Ri bley's killer calculus exam.
How many students? Eleven! The dis organized pi le of books , which conta ined seventeen overdue vo lumes fro m the library and f ive unread class texts, blocked t he doorway in Eli's dorm room.
How many books? Twenty-two! Wh ic h one is it? The most unhealthy it em from t he cafeteria is t he s teak s ub, whi ch will slime your hands wit h grease.
Which item from the cafeteria? Certainly not the one that will lower your cholesterol! The cockroach eyeing your coo kie has st arted t o crawl t his way.
Which cockroach? Not the one crawling up your leg but the one who wants your cookie! The st udents who neglected to prepare for Mrs. Ma uzy's Eng lish cla ss hide in t he cafeteria rat her t han ris k t heir i nst ruct or's wrat h.
Which students? Not the good students but the lazy slackers.
Know how to punctuate a series of adjectives. To describe a noun fully, you might need to use two or more adjectives. Sometimes a series of adjectives requires commas, but sometimes it doesn't. What makes the difference? If the adjectives are coordinate, you must use commas between them. If, on the other hand, the adjectives are noncoordinate, no commas are necessary. How do you tell the difference? Coordinate adjectives can pass one of two tests. When you reorder the series or when you insert and between them, they still make sense. Look at the following example:
The tall, creamy, de licio us milks hake melt ed on t he count er whi l e t he inat tentive wait er flirt ed wit h t he pret t y cas hier.
Now read this revision: The delicious, ta ll, creamy milks hake melt ed on t he count er whi l e t he inat tentive wait er flirt ed wit h t he pret t y cas hier.
The series of adjectives still makes sense even though the order has changed. And if you insert and between the adjectives, you still have a logical sentence: The tall and creamy and de licio us milks hake melt ed on t he count er while t he inatt ent ive wai ter flirt ed wit h t he prett y cas hier.
Noncoordinate adjectives do not make sense when you reorder the series or when you insert and between them. Check out this example: Jeanne's two fat S ia mese cat s hog t he elect ric bl anket on col d wint er evenings .
If you switch the order of the adjectives, the sentence becomes gibberish: Fat S ia mese two Jeanne's cat s hog t he elect ric blanket on col d wint er evenings .
Logic will also evaporate if you insert and between the adjectives. Jeanne's and two and fat and S ia mese cat s hog t he elect ri c blanket on cold winter evenings .
Form comparative and superlative adjectives correctly. To make comparisons, you will often need comparative or superlative adjectives. You use comparative adjectives if you are
Discussing two people, places, or things. You use superlative adjectives if you have three or more people, places, or things. Look at these two examples: St evi e, a s uck up who s its in t he front row, has a thicker not ebook t han Ni na, who never comes t o clas s. The thinnest not ebook belongs t o Mike, a comput er geek who s cans all notes and handout s and s aves t hem on t he hard dri ve of his laptop.
You can form comparative adjectives two ways. You can add er to the end of the adjective, or you can use more or less before it. Do not, however, do both! You violate the rules of grammar if you claim that you are more taller, more smarter, or less faster than your older brother Fred. One-syllable words generally take er at the end, as in these examples: Because Fuzz is a sma ller cat t han Bust er, s he los es t he fi ght s for t una fis h. For di nner, we ordered a bigger pizza t han us ual s o t hat we woul d have cold left overs for breakfast .
Two-syllable words vary. Check out these examples: Kell y is lazier t han an old dog; he is perfectly happy s pendi ng an ent ire Sat urday on t he couch, wat ching old movi es and nappi ng. The new s uit makes Marvin more handso me t han a movie s tar.
Use more or less before adjectives with three or more syllables: Movi es on our new flat -s creen televis ion are, t hankfully, less co lorful; we no longer have t o tolerat e t he elect ric greens and nuclear pinks of t he old unit .
Heat her is more compa ssionate t han anyone I know; s he wat ches where s he st eps t o avoid s quas hing a poor bug by acci dent.
You can form superlative adjectives two ways as well. You can add est to the end of the adjective, or you can use most or least before it. Do not, however, do both! You violate another grammatical rule if you claim that you are the most brightest, most happiest, or least angriest member of your family. One-syllable words generally take est at the end, as in these examples: These are t he tartest lemon-roas t ed s quid tentacles t hat I have ever eaten! Ni gel , t he tallest member of t he clas s, has t o sit in t he front row becaus e he has bad eyes ; t he rest of us crane around him for a gl impse of t he board.
Two-syllable words vary. Check out these examples: Because Hect or refuses to read di rections, he made t he crisp ie st mas hed pot at oes ever in t h e his tory of inst ant food. Because Is aac has a crus h on Ms . Ors ini, his Englis h teacher, he bel ieves t hat s he is t he most gorgeous creat ure t o walk t he pl anet.
Use most or least before adjectives with three or more syllables: The most frustrat ing experience of Desiree's day was arri vi ng home t o dis cover t hat t he onion rings were mis sing from her drive -t hru o rder. The least be lievab le det ail of t he s tory was t hat t he s pace ali ens had offered Eli a sl ice of pepperoni pi zza before his rel eas e.