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Adjectives
Mike runs fast, but Henry runs faster than him. Anyway, Dave runs the fastest of all.

Adjectives

Adjectives are descriptive words. The word 'yellow' in the phrase 'the yellow balloon' is descriptive of the balloon's colour. It tells you more about the balloon. Without adjectives, stories would be very boring. Here are three examples of adjectives: big, dangerous and black. How might a sentence be improved by using these three adjectives? Let's see.

  • The black sky hung low over the big, dangerous castle
  • The dangerous bend was covered in black ice and the big lorry skidded
  • "You look tasty", said the dangerous monster, his black eyes wide and big mouth grinning grotesquely

With these examples, you can almost picture the scene in your mind. Do this 11-Plus English quiz and perhaps you'll also learn a few new adjectives and some good quotations (words written or said - usually by famous people).

1.
In the sentence below, which words are adjectives?
Mike runs fast, but Henry runs faster than him. Anyway, Dave runs the fastest of all.
There are no adjectives in this sentence
fast, faster
fast
fast, faster, fastest
Oh dear! There are no adjectives in these sentences: they are all adverbs. An adverb is a word that modifies (changes or varies) the meaning of a verb, adjective or adverb. In some cases, it modifies a noun or a pronoun. Here's an example: 'They ate their food quickly'. Most adverbs end in -ly; unfortunately, 'fast' is one of those adverbs that doesn't end in -ly and whose form is the same as the adjective 'fast' - 'fast-faster-fastest'. Here 'fast' is used as an adverb because it describes how the people run: we say it modifies the verb 'to run'. Three other adverbs that fall into the same group as 'fast' are 'hard', 'early' and 'far'
2.
In the sentence below, which words are adjectives?
He was not only insolent and idle, he was also very mean.
insolent
insolent, idle
insolent, idle, mean
insolent, idle, very, mean
If you picked answer 4, you probably aren't sure about the word 'very'. Very can be used both as an adverb and as an adjective: it is an adverb if it is used before an adjective or adverb: 'He always does his homework very quickly'. 'Yellow is a very bright colour'. On the other hand, it is an adjective if it is used before a noun: 'He put his hand into the very bottom of the barrel'. By the way, here are some useful definitions: 'insolent' means very rude; 'idle' means lazy; and 'mean' means tightfisted or stingy
3.
In the sentence below, which words are adjectives?
Peter saw two, big, black, scary dogs.
two
big, black
big, black, scary
two, big, black, scary
Numbers can be nouns as well as adjectives. When a number is used on its own it is a noun: 'The number of digits in a UK telephone number is eleven'. When it is used to describe a noun, it is an adjective: 'This is an eleven digit telephone number'
4.
In the sentence below, which words are adjectives?
"The reasoning of the strongest is always the best" (La Fontane, Fables)
strongest
best
strongest, best
strongest, always, best
'The strongest' is not an adjective in this example: it names the group of people whose reasoning is always the best. Think of it like 'the homeless', 'the blind', 'the rich', and so on: they are simply labels for groups of people. 'Best' is the superlative form of good. The superlative form describes the highest degree or value of the quality described. For example, 'He is the best man in the team'. Some adjectives have irregular forms: for example, 'good-better-best' and 'bad-worse-worst'. LEARN THESE IRREGULAR FORMS. 'Always' is an adverb: an adverb is a word that modifies (changes or varies) the meaning of a verb, adjective or adverb. In some cases, it modifies a noun or a pronoun. Here's an example: 'She sang beautifully'. Most adverbs end in -ly
5.
In the sentence below, which words are adjectives?
Henry wrote well in his exams, but Susan wrote better: she is a really good student.
well, better, good
well, better, really, good
good
really, good
Just one adjective folks: the rest are adverbs. An adverb is a word that modifies (changes or varies) the meaning of a verb, adjective or adverb. In some cases, it modifies a noun or a pronoun. Here's an example: 'They fought bravely'. Most adverbs end in -ly. 'Well' is the adverb of 'good': 'well-better-best'. DON'T SAY: 'He wrote good'. Use 'well' to describe how someone does something
6.
In the sentence below, which words are adjectives?
She has the peculiar habit of playing the violin whenever there is a full moon on a cloudless night.
peculiar, full
peculiar, full, cloudless
full, cloudless
cloudless
That was easy. By the way, here's a useful definition: 'peculiar' means unusual, odd, strange or weird
7.
In the sentence below, which words are adjectives?
The cunning fox was trying to catch the clever, little, red hen.
cunning
cunning, clever
cunning, clever, little
cunning, clever, little, red
The words for colours are also adjectives. By the way, here's a useful definition: 'cunning' means sly, sneaky or foxy
8.
In the sentence below, which words are adjectives?
He is hungry and thirsty.
hungry, thirsty
There are no adjectives in this sentence
hungry
thirsty
In this sentence, the adjectives come AFTER the pronoun 'he'
9.
In the sentence below, which words are adjectives?
If you quickly finish your English homework, you can have a tasty treat.
quickly, English, tasty
tasty
English, tasty
finish, have
Be careful not to confuse adjectives with adverbs
10.
In the sentence below, which words are adjectives?
She wrote quickly and neatly; she was truly a quick and neat writer.
quickly, neatly
quickly, quick
neatly, neat
quick, neat
Quickly and neatly are adverbs: an adverb is a word that modifies (changes or varies) the meaning of a verb, adjective or adverb. In some cases, it modifies a noun or a pronoun. Here's an example: 'She danced wonderfully'. Most adverbs end in -ly
Author:  Frank Evans

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