Adjectives Introduction. Free English Lesson with Test and Certificate.
Quick introduction to adjectives for SAT, IELTS, TESOL and other exams.
Tip: Listen to the video while you read the lesson below.
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How to use basic adjectives in English
Adjectives are so important in English that we have three adjective tests. This first test covers the basic use of adjectives, which is to describe or modify nouns. For example, instead of saying, "the man walked down the street," ... you might want to say, "the TALL man walked down the street." 'Man' is the noun, and 'tall' is the adjective.
Here's a few more examples:
- His car is BIG.
- His car is BIGGER than my car.
- His car is the BIGGEST car on our street.
- John is HAPPY.
- John is HAPPIER today than he was yesterday.
- John is the HAPPIEST boy in my classroom.
Your English lesson about everyday adjectives
Welcome to the first Adjective Lesson. In this lesson, you will learn how to use the comparative and superlative forms of adjectives. Remember to pay attention to the examples – and not just the rules – so you can understand how to use these words naturally. Let’s begin!
First, here’s an overview of what adjectives are. Adjectives are important parts of the English language. There are four parts of speech, in other words four basic types of words in English:
- Nouns are people, places, things and ideas.
- Verbs are action words.
- Adjectives describe or modify (modify means ‘change’) nouns
- Adverbs describe or modify verbs (they can also modify adjectives and other adverbs).
Have a look at the following examples:
The tall man walked slowly down the quiet street.
The jet airplane is fast.
He runs fast.
The serious student’s English skills improved rapidly.
Can you identify the adjectives and adverbs in these sentences?
In the first sentence, the adjectives are tall and quiet. Tall describes the man and quiet describes the street.
In the second sentence, jet and fast are adjectives.
In the third sentence, fast is used again, but in this case, it’s an adverb. We are saying that he runs fast. Fast is describing how he runs (a verb).
And, in the final example sentence, serious and English are adjectives. Serious modifies the student and English modifies skills. Rapidly is an adverb because it is describing the word improved. You will notice that many adverbs end with the letters ‘ly’.
Big. Bigger. Biggest.
Of course, things aren’t always this clear, easy and simple.
Let’s start with comparative and superlative adjective forms. We use the comparative form if we are comparing two different things, and we use the superlative if we are comparing three or more different things.
Form the comparative and superlative forms of a one-syllable adjective by adding –er for the comparative form and –est for the superlative. Let’s see how this works. First, we will use one syllable adjectives.
My apartment building is tall.
My apartment building is taller than your building.
My apartment building is the tallest in our neighborhood.
If the one-syllable adjective ends with an e, just add –r for the comparative form and –st for the superlative form.
Peter’s grandfather is wise.
Peter’s grandfather is wiser than me.
Peter’s grandfather is the wisest person I know.
If the one-syllable adjective ends with a single consonant with a vowel before it, double the consonant and add –er for the comparative form; and double the consonant and add –est for the superlative form.
His car is big.
His car is bigger than my car.
His car is the biggest car on our street.
With most two-syllable adjectives, you form the comparative with more and the superlative with most.
The ballet dancer is slender.
The ballet dancer is more slender than her friend.
The ballet dancer is the most slender girl in my class.
If the two-syllable adjective ends with –y, change the y to i and add –er for the comparative form. For the superlative form change the y to i and add –est.
John is happy.
John is happier today than he was yesterday.
John is the happiest boy in my classroom.
Two-syllable adjectives ending in –er, -le, or –ow take –er and –est to form the comparative and superlative forms.
I live on a narrow street.
I live on a narrower street than you.
I live on the narrowest street in the city.
He is a gentle dentist.
He is a gentler dentist than my previous dentist.
He is the gentlest dentist in the entire clinic.
More adjective exercises
For adjectives with three syllables or more, you form the comparative with more and the superlative with most.
Her painting is beautiful.
Her painting is more beautiful than my painting.
Her painting is the most beautiful painting in the gallery.
As with most ideas in English grammar, there are exceptions to these rules.
Here are the irregular adjectives:
Good, better, best
Bad, worse, worst
Far, farther, farthest
Little, less, least
Many, more, most
Let’s look at some examples:
Italian food is better than American food.
My dog is the best dog in the world.
My mother's cooking is worse than your mother's cooking.
Of all the students in the class, Max is the worst.
In addition, there are some two-syllable adjectives that follow two rules. These adjectives can be used with -er and -est and with more and most.
My father is cleverer than my teacher.
My father is the most clever person I know.
My mother is the most gentle person I know.
She is gentler than my father.
My new dog is friendlier than my old dog.
My new dog is the most friendly dog on our street.
My son is quieter than my daughter.
My son is the most quiet boy in his class at school.
Adjectives are the simplest grammar subject I study.
Adjectives are more simple than conditionals.
It’s story time.
Now that we’ve learned a lot about adjectives, let’s see how they are used in a short story. As you read the following story, pay attention to how the adjectives are used.
Amy jumped out of her soft, warm bed as soon as she heard the loud buzzing of her Mickey Mouse alarm clock. Today was going to be the best day of the winter. They were going to go ice skating on the biggest pond in the province.
It was hard for her to eat when she was nervous, and she wasn’t hungry, but she ate a big hot breakfast. She knew that she would need a lot of energy today. It wasn’t the best breakfast she had ever eaten, but everything tasted a little better today.
After breakfast, they packed their big old car. She admired her brand new skates which her grandmother had given to her. They were classic white figure skates. They had a vinyl boot with fur lining to keep her feet warm. In addition, they were designed with a foam bed in the bottom of the skate for extra comfort. Lastly, they featured nickel-plated, edge-hardened, and heat-treated, carbon-steel blades. She had been so surprised when she received them as a gift. She was sure that they were the most expensive thing she ever owned.
Finally, after the most boring two hour car ride ever, they arrived at the frozen pond. The air in the countryside was cold and much fresher than in the city. She had the biggest smile imaginable on her face, as she ran to the pond. At first she was nervous and cautious on her new skates. After a few minutes, she was more comfortable. The sharp blades of her new skates glided smoothly along on the cold, hard ice. She could tell that these were the best skates she had ever worn.
She was faster and more graceful than all of the other skaters on the pond that day. It was a fantastic feeling. Even though she was colder and more tired than she had been all winter, she didn’t want to leave.
On the car ride home, after a long day of skating, she slept soundly. She was more exhausted than she had been in a long time.
That’s the end of the lesson on basic adjectives.
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