Do you want to learn more about descriptive adjectives? Here's the article you've been looking for! Here, you'll learn all you need to know about descriptive adjectives and how to use them in your writing.
This guide is part of our free online Grammar Book.
Descriptive adjectives are a specific category of adjectives that you can use to describe someone or something's characteristics or attributes. They can also describe animals, places, ideas. and so on.
Descriptive adjectives are no different. They're simply a category of adjectives.
There are lots of other categories, including quantitative, demonstrative, possessive, interrogative, and distributive adjectives, to name a few.
'Describing' can mean many things, though. So, what do we mean exactly?
To give some concrete examples, descriptive adjectives can give information about:
The descriptive kind makes up the majority of adjectives. That makes sense if you think about the fact that an adjective's main job is to describe. You might be wondering what an adjective does if it's not describing. While that's a topic for another article, I do want to give you a brief idea of some of the other things adjectives can do.
So, without further ado, here are some examples of sentences that use non-descriptive adjectives.
Who does that pencil belong to? (demonstrative)
Is that your daughter? (possessive)
Which Christmas tree would you like? (interrogative)
I have some idea of what to expect. (quantitative)
They've made enough muffins for each child. (distributive)
As you can see, the above examples may relate to and qualify the noun or pronoun, but they don't describe it.
Now you have some idea of what descriptive adjectives are. You might want to know how you're supposed to use them in a sentence. For this, you need to consider word order.
Let's start with the basics. If you're using an attributive adjective, you'll place it just before the noun it modifies.
She was a tall girl.
We ate a delicious lunch.
The silent night appeased me.
If you're using a predicate adjective, the rules are slightly different. Typically, they follow a linking verb. This means they are also placed after the noun they modify rather than before it.
As a reminder, linking verbs are the opposite of action verbs. They describe a state of being rather than doing.
Some linking verbs include:
Here are some examples:
Why does she seem so angry?
You should be grateful for what you have.
Dogs always seem very relaxed.
Apart from where the adjective is placed within the sentence, there's also a hierarchy of adjectives. Say, for example, you want to use more than one adjective in the same sentence. What order should you place them in? This is where things can get complicated, and really, this is just something that comes naturally to us native speakers or that English language learners will pick up over time with some practice. But there is actually an official order, believe it or not.
Here's the official order of adjectives according to the Cambridge Dictionary:
1. opinion (unusual, lovely, beautiful)
2. size (big, small, tall)
3. physical quality (thin, rough, untidy)
4. shape (round, square, rectangular)
5. age (young, old, youthful)
6. color (blue, red, pink)
7. origin (Dutch, Japanese, Turkish)
8. material (metal, wood, plastic)
9. type (general-purpose, four-sided, U-shaped)
10. purpose (cleaning, hammering, cooking)
Here are some examples:
I saw a beautiful, tall, rectangular building.
She was an unusual young woman when she first arrived.
I bought a new wooden sponge.
I'm now going to show you a bunch of sentence examples that use descriptive adjectives. In all the examples, the adjective itself is underlined, just like I've done with all the examples throughout this article.
She's the one wearing a blue dress.
I have a sore throat.
That puppy looks quite anxious.
That car is driving incredibly fast.
This is a rare and precious stone.
You look a little bored.
You can really see the Roman influence in the architecture.
He's a smart, curious young man.
I'm really excited about watching the final tonight.
The silky fabric felt smooth under my hand.
That concludes this article on descriptive adjectives. I hope you found it helpful and that you now feel well-equipped to use them in your own writing.
Let's summarize what we've learned:
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