Adjectives are words that modify nouns or noun-equivalents and fellow adjectives. The italicised words below are some examples of adjectives:
- Professor Stefano is a seasoned scholar.
- He is prolific.
- He has produced many good works of art.
- Some people are passing through hard times these days.
Classification of Adjectives
Adjectives can be grouped into two broad classes according to the functions they perform:
Determiners are small adjectives which normally identify and precede nouns. They signal the approach of a noun and generally define or limit the meaning of the noun, restricting its application. The following are common examples of determiners in English Language:
These are three small adjectives: a, an, and the. A or an [a(n)] means any while the means this or that. A(n) is an indefinite article that makes reference to no specific thing, but the is a definite article that indicates a particular thing. While a is used before words that begin with consonants, an is used before words that begin with vowels. The may form a plural noun when it precedes a descriptive adjective, or a common noun when it precedes a proper noun.
- Give me a pen. (any pen)
- Please buy an envelope for me. (any envelope)
- The boy is honest. (That boy ….. )
- The rich are unhappy. (All rich people …… )
- Are you the Solomon of our generation? (the wise man)
2) Demonstrative Adjectives
These are four small adjectives – this, that, these, and those – that indicate or refer to things. This and that precede singular nouns while these and those precede plural nouns. This and these refer to things that are close to the speaker in time and space but that and those relate to things that are removed from the speaker in time and space.
- This pen is mine but that one over there is yours.
- These students are obedient.
3) Possessive Adjectives
These indicate ownership: my, your, his, her, its, our, their.
- Obed took my bucket.
- The dog wagged its tail.
4) Distributive Adjectives
These include each, every, either, neither. They are used to indicate things considered separately/individually or in isolated lots.
- Each person played his role.
- Every student in this college knows her name.
- Either soup will serve our purpose.
5) Interrogative Adjectives
These are used adjectivally in asking questions: what, which, whose, whatever, whichever. They precede nouns in the questions.
- What papers do you read?
- Which way Nigeria?
- Whose turn is it to speak?
6) Emphasizing Adjectives
These adjectives relate to and emphasize the nouns or pronouns beside them: very, own, one.
- He is the very man I am talking about.
- That is my own car.
7) Indefinite Adjectives
These do not specify the exact number, quantity or measurement of the nouns they modify: some, many, few, much, most, other, not much, all, several, less, enough.
- Some boy shouted the poor girl down.
- Many people are poor these days.
8) Exclamatory Adjectives
These are employed in exclamatory expressions: what! which!
What a loss!
9) Numerical Adjectives
These adjectives specify number or generally indicate the position occupied by anything.
- Cardinal Numbers – one, two, three, four, etc.
- Ordinal Numbers – first, second, third, fourth, etc.
- General Ordinals – next, last, other, former, latter.
- One man (or two men) came here yesterday.
- Mary took first position in the class last semester.
10) Other Quantifiers
In addition to the above, there are other small adjectives which fall within the class of determiners. They include the following quantifiers: both, half, double, twice, one-third, three-quarters, whole, plenty.