Adjective

Last updated
Examples

In grammar, an attributive is a word or phrase within a noun phrase that modifies the head noun. It may be an:

In traditional grammar, a predicate is one of the two main parts of a sentence. For the simple sentence "John [is yellow]", John acts as the subject, and is yellow acts as the predicate, a subsequent description of the subject headed with a verb.

A postpositive adjective or postnominal adjective is an attributive adjective that is placed after the noun or pronoun that it modifies. This contrasts with prepositive adjectives, which come before the noun or pronoun.

In linguistics, an adjective (abbreviated adj) is word whose main syntactic role is to modify a noun or noun phrase. Its semantic role is to change information given by the noun.

Linguistics is the scientific study of language. It involves analysing language form, language meaning, and language in context. The earliest activities in the documentation and description of language have been attributed to the 6th-century-BC Indian grammarian Pāṇini who wrote a formal description of the Sanskrit language in his Aṣṭādhyāyī.

In linguistics, syntax is the set of rules, principles, and processes that govern the structure of sentences in a given language, usually including word order. The term syntax is also used to refer to the study of such principles and processes. The goal of many syntacticians is to discover the syntactic rules common to all languages.

In grammar, a modifier is an optional element in phrase structure or clause structure. A modifier is so called because it is said to modify another element in the structure, on which it is dependent. Typically the modifier can be removed without affecting the grammar of the sentence. For example, in the English sentence This is a red ball, the adjective red is a modifier, modifying the noun ball. Removal of the modifier would leave This is a ball, which is grammatically correct and equivalent in structure to the original sentence.

Contents

Adjectives are one of the main parts of speech of the English language, although historically they were classed together with nouns. [1] Certain words that were traditionally considered to be adjectives, including the, this, my, etc., are today usually classed separately, as determiners.

In traditional grammar, a part of speech is a category of words which have similar grammatical properties. Words that are assigned to the same part of speech generally display similar behavior in terms of syntax—they play similar roles within the grammatical structure of sentences—and sometimes in terms of morphology, in that they undergo inflection for similar properties.

Etymology

Adjective comes from Latin nōmen adjectīvum, [2] a calque of Ancient Greek : ἐπίθετον ὄνομα, romanized: epítheton ónoma, lit.  'additional noun'. [3] [4] In the grammatical tradition of Latin and Greek, because adjectives were inflected for gender, number, and case like nouns (a process called declension), they were considered a type of noun. The words that are today typically called nouns were then called substantive nouns (nōmen substantīvum). [5] The terms noun substantive and noun adjective were formerly used in English but are now obsolete. [1]

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

In linguistics, a calque or loan translation is a word or phrase borrowed from another language by literal, word-for-word or root-for-root translation. Used as a verb, "to calque" means to borrow a word or phrase from another language while translating its components, so as to create a new lexeme in the target language.

Literal translation, direct translation, or word-for-word translation is the rendering of text from one language to another one word at a time with or without conveying the sense of the original whole.

Types of use

A given occurrence of an adjective can generally be classified into one of three kinds of use:

  1. Attributive adjectives are part of the noun phrase headed by the noun they modify; for example, happy is an attributive adjective in "happy people". In some languages, attributive adjectives precede their nouns; in others, they follow; and in yet others, it depends on the adjective or on its exact relationship to the noun. In English, attributive adjectives usually precede their nouns in simple phrases but follow when they are modified or qualified by a phrase acting as an adverb. For example: compare "I saw three happykids" with "I saw three kidshappy enough to jump up and down with glee." See also Postpositive adjective.
  2. Predicative adjectives are linked via a copula or other linking mechanism to the noun or pronoun they modify; for example, happy is a predicate adjective in "they are happy" and in "that made me happy." (See also: Predicative expression, Subject complement.)
  3. Nominal adjectives act almost as nouns. One way this happens is by eliding a noun that leaves behind its attributive adjective. In the sentence, "I read two books to them; he preferred the sad book, but she preferred the happy", happy is a nominal adjective, short for "happy one" or "happy book". Another way this happens is in phrases like "out with the old, in with the new", where "the old" means "that which is old" or "all that is old", and similarly with "the new". In such cases, the adjective may function as a mass noun (as in the preceding example). In English, it may also function as a plural count noun denoting a collective group, as in "The meek shall inherit the Earth", where "the meek" means "those who are meek" or "all who are meek".

Distribution

Adjectives feature as a part of speech (word class) in most languages. In some languages, the words that serve the semantic function of adjectives are categorized together with some other class, such as nouns or verbs. In the phrase "a Ford car", "Ford" is unquestionably a noun but its function is adjectival: to modify "car". In some languages adjectives can function as nouns: for example, the Spanish phrase "uno rojo" means "a red [one]".

Language Capacity to communicate using signs, such as words or gestures

Language is a system that consists of the development, acquisition, maintenance and use of complex systems of communication, particularly the human ability to do so; a language is any specific example of such a system.

Noun part of speech in grammar denoting a figurative or real thing or person

A noun is a word that functions as the name of some specific thing or set of things, such as living creatures, objects, places, actions, qualities, states of existence, or ideas. However, noun is not a semantic category, so that it cannot be characterized in terms of its meaning. Thus, actions and states of existence can also be expressed by verbs, qualities by adjectives, and places by adverbs. Linguistically, a noun is a member of a large, open part of speech whose members can occur as the main word in the subject of a clause, the object of a verb, or the object of a preposition.

A verb, from the Latin verbum meaning word, is a word that in syntax conveys an action, an occurrence, or a state of being. In the usual description of English, the basic form, with or without the particle to, is the infinitive. In many languages, verbs are inflected to encode tense, aspect, mood, and voice. A verb may also agree with the person, gender or number of some of its arguments, such as its subject, or object. Verbs have tenses: present, to indicate that an action is being carried out; past, to indicate that an action has been done; future, to indicate that an action will be done.

As for "confusion" with verbs, rather than an adjective meaning "big", a language might have a verb that means "to be big" and could then use an attributive verb construction analogous to "big-being house" to express what in English is called a "big house". Such an analysis is possible for the grammar of Standard Chinese, for example.

An attributive verb is a verb that modifies a noun in the manner of an attributive adjective, rather than express an independent idea as a predicate.

Chinese grammar Grammar of modern Standard Mandarin

The grammar of Standard Chinese or Mandarin shares many features with other varieties of Chinese. The language almost entirely lacks inflection, so that words typically have only one grammatical form. Categories such as number and verb tense are frequently not expressed by any grammatical means, although there are several particles that serve to express verbal aspect, and to some extent mood.

Different languages do not use adjectives in exactly the same situations. For example, where English uses "to be hungry" (hungry being an adjective), Dutch, French, and Spanish use "honger hebben", "avoir faim", and "tener hambre" respectively (literally "to have hunger", the words for "hunger" being nouns). Similarly, where Hebrew uses the adjective זקוק (zaqūq, roughly "in need of"), English uses the verb "to need".

In languages that have adjectives as a word class, it is usually an open class; that is, it is relatively common for new adjectives to be formed via such processes as derivation. However, Bantu languages are well known for having only a small closed class of adjectives, and new adjectives are not easily derived. Similarly, native Japanese adjectives (i-adjectives) are considered a closed class (as are native verbs), although nouns (an open class) may be used in the genitive to convey some adjectival meanings, and there is also the separate open class of adjectival nouns (na-adjectives).

Adverbs

Many languages (including English) distinguish between adjectives, which qualify nouns and pronouns, and adverbs, which mainly modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. Not all languages make this exact distinction; many (including English) have words that can function as either. For example, in English, fast is an adjective in "a fast car" (where it qualifies the noun car) but an adverb in "he drove fast" (where it modifies the verb drove).

In Dutch and German, adjectives and adverbs are usually identical in form and many grammarians do not make the distinction, but patterns of inflection can suggest a difference:

Eine kluge neue Idee.
A clever new idea.
Eine klug ausgereifte Idee.
A cleverly developed idea.

A German word like klug ("clever(ly)") takes endings when used as an attributive adjective but not when used adverbially. (It also takes no endings when used as a predicative adjective: er ist klug, "he is clever".) Whether these are distinct parts of speech or distinct usages of the same part of speech is a question of analysis. It can be noted that, while German linguistic terminology distinguishes adverbiale from adjektivische Formen, German refers to both as Eigenschaftswörter ("property words").

Determiners

Linguists today distinguish determiners from adjectives, considering them to be two separate parts of speech (or lexical categories ). But formerly determiners were considered to be adjectives in some of their uses. [Notes 1] Determiners are words that are neither nouns nor pronouns, yet reference a thing already in context. They generally do this by indicating definiteness (a vs. the), quantity (one vs. some vs. many), or another such property.

Adjective phrases

An adjective acts as the head of an adjective phrase or adjectival phrase (AP). In the simplest case, an adjective phrase consists solely of the adjective; more complex adjective phrases may contain one or more adverbs modifying the adjective ("very strong"), or one or more complements (such as "worth several dollars", "full of toys", or "eager to please"). In English, attributive adjective phrases that include complements typically follow the noun that they qualify ("an evildoer devoid of redeeming qualities").

Other modifiers of nouns

In many languages (including English) it is possible for nouns to modify other nouns. Unlike adjectives, nouns acting as modifiers (called attributive nouns or noun adjuncts ) usually are not predicative; a beautiful park is beautiful, but a car park is not "car". The modifier often indicates origin ("Virginia reel"), purpose ("work clothes"), semantic patient ("man eater") or semantic subject ("child actor"); however, it may generally indicate almost any semantic relationship. It is also common for adjectives to be derived from nouns, as in boyish, birdlike, behavioral (behavioural), famous, manly, angelic, and so on.

Many languages have special verbal forms called participles that can act as noun modifiers (alone or as the head of a phrase). Sometimes participles develop into pure adjectives. Examples in English include relieved (the past participle of the verb relieve, used as an adjective in sentences such as "I am so relieved to see you"), spoken (as in "the spoken word"), and going (the present participle of the verb go, used as an adjective in such phrases as "the going rate").

Other constructs that often modify nouns include prepositional phrases (as in "a rebel without a cause"), relative clauses (as in "the man who wasn't there"), and infinitive phrases (as in "a cake to die for"). Some nouns can also take complements such as content clauses (as in "the idea that I would do that"), but these are not commonly considered modifiers. For more information about possible modifiers and dependents of nouns, see Components of noun phrases.

Order

In many languages, attributive adjectives usually occur in a specific order. In general, the adjective order in English can be summarised as: opinion, size, age or shape, colour, origin, material, purpose. This sequence (with age preceding shape) is sometimes referred to by the mnemonic OSASCOMP. [6] [7] [8] Other language authorities, like the Cambridge Dictionary , state that shape precedes rather than follows age. [6] [9] [10]

Determiners—articles, numerals and other limiters (e.g. three blind mice)—come before attributive adjectives in English. Although certain combinations of determiners can appear before a noun, they are far more circumscribed than adjectives in their use—typically, only a single determiner would appear before a noun or noun phrase (including any attributive adjectives).

  1. Opinion – limiter adjectives (e.g. a real hero, a perfect idiot) and adjectives of subjective measure (e.g. beautiful, interesting) or value (e.g. good, bad, costly)
  2. Size – adjectives denoting physical size (e.g. tiny, big, extensive)
  3. Age – adjectives denoting age (e.g., young, old, new, ancient, six-year-old)
  4. Shape – adjectives describing more detailed physical attributes than overall size (e.g. round, sharp, swollen)
  5. Colour – adjectives denoting colour (e.g. white, black, pale)
  6. Origin – denominal adjectives denoting source (e.g. French, volcanic, extraterrestrial)
  7. Material – denominal adjectives denoting what something is made of (e.g., woollen, metallic, wooden)
  8. Qualifier/purpose – final limiter, which sometimes forms part of the (compound) noun (e.g., rocking chair, hunting cabin, passenger car, book cover)

This means that, in English, adjectives pertaining to size precede adjectives pertaining to age ("little old", not "old little"), which in turn generally precede adjectives pertaining to colour ("old white", not "white old"). So, one would say "One (quantity) nice (opinion) little (size) old (age) round (shape) [or round old] white (colour) brick (material) house." When several adjectives of the same type are used together, they are ordered from general to specific, like "lovely intelligent person" or "old medieval castle". [6]

This order may be more rigid in some languages than others; in some, like Spanish, it may only be a default ( unmarked ) word order, with other orders being permissible. Other languages, such as Tagalog, follow their adjectival orders as rigidly as English.

The normal adjectival order of English may be overridden in certain circumstances, especially when one adjective is being fronted. In addition, the usual order of adjectives in English would result in the phrase "the bad big wolf" (opinion before size), but instead the usual phrase is "the big bad wolf", perhaps because the ablaut reduplication rule that high vowels precede low vowels overrides the normal order of adjectives.

Owing partially to borrowings from French, English has some adjectives that follow the noun as postmodifiers, called postpositive adjectives, as in time immemorial and attorney general . Adjectives may even change meaning depending on whether they precede or follow, as in proper: They live in a proper town (a real town, not a village) vs. They live in the town proper (in the town itself, not in the suburbs). All adjectives can follow nouns in certain constructions, such as tell me something new.

Comparison (degrees)

In many languages, some adjectives are comparable and the measure of comparison is called degree. For example, a person may be "polite", but another person may be "more polite", and a third person may be the "most polite" of the three. The word "more" here modifies the adjective "polite" to indicate a comparison is being made, and "most" modifies the adjective to indicate an absolute comparison (a superlative).

Among languages that allow adjectives to be compared, different means are used to indicate comparison. Some languages do not distinguish between comparative and superlative forms.

In English, many adjectives can be inflected to comparative and superlative forms by taking the suffixes "-er" and "-est" (sometimes requiring additional letters before the suffix; see forms for far below), respectively:

"great", "greater", "greatest"
"deep", "deeper", "deepest"

Some adjectives are irregular in this sense:

"good", "better", "best"
"bad", "worse", "worst"
"many", "more", "most" (sometimes regarded as an adverb or determiner)
"little", "less", "least"

Some adjectives can have both regular and irregular variations:

"old", "older", "oldest"
"far", "farther", "farthest"

also

"old", "elder", "eldest"
"far", "further", "furthest"

Another way to convey comparison is by incorporating the words "more" and "most". There is no simple rule to decide which means is correct for any given adjective, however. The general tendency is for simpler adjectives and those from Anglo-Saxon to take the suffixes, while longer adjectives and those from French, Latin, or Greek do not—but sometimes sound of the word is the deciding factor.

Many adjectives do not naturally lend themselves to comparison. For example, some English speakers would argue that it does not make sense to say that one thing is "more ultimate" than another, or that something is "most ultimate", since the word "ultimate" is already absolute in its semantics. Such adjectives are called non-comparable or absolute. Nevertheless, native speakers will frequently play with the raised forms of adjectives of this sort. Although "pregnant" is logically non-comparable (either one is pregnant or not), one may hear a sentence like "She looks more and more pregnant each day". Likewise "extinct" and "equal" appear to be non-comparable, but one might say that a language about which nothing is known is "more extinct" than a well-documented language with surviving literature but no speakers, while George Orwell wrote, "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others". These cases may be viewed as evidence that the base forms of these adjectives are not as absolute in their semantics as is usually thought.

Comparative and superlative forms are also occasionally used for other purposes than comparison. In English comparatives can be used to suggest that a statement is only tentative or tendential: one might say "John is more the shy-and-retiring type," where the comparative "more" is not really comparing him with other people or with other impressions of him, but rather, could be substituting for "on the whole". In Italian, superlatives are frequently used to put strong emphasis on an adjective: bellissimo means "most beautiful", but is in fact more commonly heard in the sense "extremely beautiful".

Restrictiveness

Attributive adjectives, and other noun modifiers, may be used either restrictively (helping to identify the noun's referent, hence "restricting" its reference) or non-restrictively (helping to describe an already-identified noun). For example:

"He was a lazy sort, who would avoid a difficult task and fill his working hours with easy ones."
"difficult" is restrictive – it tells us which tasks he avoids, distinguishing these from the easy ones: "Only those tasks that are difficult".
"She had the job of sorting out the mess left by her predecessor, and she performed this difficult task with great acumen."
"difficult" is non-restrictive – we already know which task it was, but the adjective describes it more fully: "The aforementioned task, which (by the way) is difficult"

In some languages, such as Spanish, restrictiveness is consistently marked; for example, in Spanish la tarea difícil means "the difficult task" in the sense of "the task that is difficult" (restrictive), whereas la difícil tarea means "the difficult task" in the sense of "the task, which is difficult" (non-restrictive). In English, restrictiveness is not marked on adjectives, but is marked on relative clauses (the difference between "the man who recognized me was there" and "the man, who recognized me, was there" being one of restrictiveness).

Agreement

In some languages, adjectives alter their form to reflect the gender, case and number of the noun that they describe. This is called agreement or concord. Usually it takes the form of inflections at the end of the word, as in Latin:

puella bona(good girl, feminine singular nominative)
puellam bonam(good girl, feminine singular accusative/object case)
puer bonus(good boy, masculine singular nominative)
pueri boni(good boys, masculine plural nominative)

In Celtic languages, however, initial consonant lenition marks the adjective with a feminine singular noun, as in Irish:

buachaill maith(good boy, masculine)
girseach mhaith(good girl, feminine)

Often, distinction is made here between attributive and predicative usage. In English, adjectives never agree, and in French, they always agree. In German, they agree only when they are used attributively, and in Hungarian, they agree only when they are used predicatively:

The good (Ø) boys.The boys are good (Ø).
Les bons garçons.Les garçons sont bons.
Die braven Jungen.Die Jungen sind brav (Ø).
A jó (Ø) fiúk.A fiúk jók.

See also

Related Research Articles

Adverb word that modifies a verb, adjective, or another adverb

An adverb is a word that modifies a verb, adjective, determiner, clause, preposition, or sentence. Adverbs typically express manner, place, time, frequency, degree, level of certainty, etc., answering questions such as how?, in what way?, when?, where?, and to what extent?. This function is called the adverbial function, and may be realized by single words (adverbs) or by multi-word expressions.

English grammar body of rules that describe the structure of expressions in the English language

English grammar is the way in which meanings are encoded into wordings in the English language. This includes the structure of words, phrases, clauses, and sentences, right up to the structure of whole texts.

A noun phrase or nominal (phrase) is a phrase that has a noun as its head or performs the same grammatical function as such a phrase. Noun phrases are very common cross-linguistically, and they may be the most frequently occurring phrase type.

An adjective phrase is a phrase the head word of which is an adjective, e.g. fond of steak, very happy, quite upset about it, etc. The adjective can initiate the phrase, conclude the phrase, or appear in a medial position. The dependents of the head adjective—i.e. the other words and phrases inside the adjective phrase—are typically adverb or prepositional phrases, but they can also be clauses. Adjectives and adjective phrases function in two basic ways, attributively or predicatively. An attributive adjective (phrase) precedes the noun of a noun phrase. A predicative adjective (phrase) follows a linking verb and serves to describe the preceding subject, e.g. The man is very happy.

English compound word composed of more than one free morpheme

A compound is a word composed of more than one free morpheme. The English language, like many others, uses compounds frequently. English compounds may be classified in several ways, such as the word classes or the semantic relationship of their components.

Tagalog grammar is the body of rules that describe the structure of expressions in the Tagalog language, the language of the Tagalog region of the Philippines.

Tunica language language

The Tunica language is a language isolate that was spoken in the Central and Lower Mississippi Valley in the United States by Native American Tunica peoples. There are no native speakers of the Tunica language, but as of 2017, there are 32 second language speakers.

In linguistics, an adverbial phrase ("AdvP") is a multi-word expression operating adverbially: its syntactic function is to modify other expressions, including verbs, adjectives, adverbs, adverbials, and sentences. Adverbial phrases can be divided into two types: complement adverbs versus modifier adverbs. For example, in the sentence She sang very well, the expression very well is an adverbial phrase, as it modifies the verb sing. More specifically, the adverbial phrase very well contains two adverbials, very and well: while well modifies the verb to convey information about the manner of singing, very is a degree modifier that conveys information about the degree to which the action of singing well was accomplished.

A compound modifier is a compound of two or more attributive words: that is, two or more words that collectively modify a noun. Compound modifiers are grammatically equivalent to single-word modifiers, and can be used in combination with other modifiers.

Agreement or concord happens when a word changes form depending on the other words to which it relates. It is an instance of inflection, and usually involves making the value of some grammatical category "agree" between varied words or parts of the sentence.

This article deals with Japanese equivalents of English adjectives.

German adjectives come before the noun, as in English, and (usually) are not capitalised. However, as in French and other Indo-European languages, they are generally inflected when they come before a noun: they take an ending that depends on the gender and case of the noun phrase. Note that when using the indefinite article, the adjective takes the ending letter of the definite article of the noun.

Intensifier is a linguistic term for a modifier that makes no contribution to the propositional meaning of a clause but serves to enhance and give additional emotional context to the word it modifies. Intensifiers are grammatical expletives, specifically expletive attributives, because they function as semantically vacuous filler. Characteristically, English draws intensifiers from a class of words called degree modifiers, words that quantify the idea they modify. More specifically, they derive from a group of words called adverbs of degree, also known as degree adverbs. When used grammatically as intensifiers, these words cease to be degree adverbs, because they no longer quantify the idea they modify; instead, they emphasize it emotionally. By contrast, the words moderately, slightly, and barely are degree adverbs, but not intensifiers. The other hallmark of prototypical intensifiers is that they are adverbs which lack the primary characteristic of adverbs: the ability to modify verbs. Intensifiers modify exclusively adjectives and adverbs, but this rule is insufficient to classify intensifiers, since there exist other words commonly classified as adverbs that never modify verbs but are not intensifiers, e.g. questionably.

Thai is an analytic language, like many languages in Southeast Asia. Also like other languages in the region, Thai syntax conforms to subject–verb–object word order, Standard Thai is head-initial, while Capital Thai more closely Southern Min grammar, and has a noun classifier system. Basic Thai word order is also regular with every sentence structured by an "SVO (subject–verb–object)" order like English.

English determiners I want to know that is why a determiner if yes then how and if no then how

An important role in English grammar is played by determiners – words or phrases that precede a noun or noun phrase and serve to express its reference in the context. The most common of these are the definite and indefinite articles, the and a(n). Other determiners in English include demonstratives such as this and that, possessives such as my and the boy's, and quantifiers such as all, many and three.

References

  1. 1 2 Trask, R.L. (2013). Dictionary of Grammatical Terms in Linguistics. Taylor & Francis. p. 188. ISBN   978-1-134-88420-9.
  2. adjectivus . Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short. A Latin Dictionary on Perseus Project .
  3. ἐπίθετος . Liddell, Henry George ; Scott, Robert ; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project
  4. Mastronarde, Donald J. Introduction to Attic Greek. University of California Press, 2013. p. 60.
  5. McMenomy, Bruce A. Syntactical Mechanics: A New Approach to English, Latin, and Greek. University of Oklahoma Press, 2014. p. 8.
  6. 1 2 3 Order of adjectives, British Council.
  7. R.M.W. Dixon, "Where Have all the Adjectives Gone?" Studies in Language 1, no. 1 (1977): 19–80.
  8. Dowling, Tim (13 September 2016). "Order force: the old grammar rule we all obey without realising". The Guardian. The Guardian.
  9. Adjectives: order (from English Grammar Today), in the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary online
  10. R. Declerck, A Comprehensive Descriptive Grammar of English (1991), p. 350: "When there are several descriptive adjectives, they normally occur in the following order: characteristic — size — shape — age — colour — [...]"

Bibliography

  1. In English dictionaries, which typically still do not treat determiners as their own part of speech, determiners are often recognizable by being listed both as adjectives and as pronouns.