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Any learner being introduced to adjectives for the first time will hear that,

‘An Adjective is a describing word'. To explain further, an adjective gives information about a noun or a pronoun. It tells us what a noun or pronoun is like, or the quantity of the noun.

For example, ‘An ugly bug contaminated the whole river.’

Shall we identify a noun in the sentence above: One is ‘bug’ and it has a word (Ugly) before it, which tells how the bug looks like. ‘Ugly’ is then an adjective.

Adjectives can also come after a noun or pronoun.

For example, ‘The river is dry and desolate.’ In this sentence the adjectives are ‘dry’ and ‘desolate’ because they are telling more about how the river (the noun) looked like.

You can notice that they appear after the noun and they are connected to ‘river’ by the linking verb ‘is’ (from the verb ‘to be’).

There are two types of adjectives in English: The Determiners and the Descriptive Adjectives. The latter are the main describing words which include big, long, short, grey, blue and happy.

The determiners are words that introduce nouns; they act as adjectives. Examples include: the articles a, an and the; every, this, those, my, our, your, which, what and whose. In the sentence,

‘Please give me your calculator.’ The word ‘your’ shows that I’m talking about one particular calculator (your calculator) and not any other one. So the word ‘your’ is acting as an adjective because it is saying something about the noun, ‘calculator’.

The question words; which, what, and whose also act as determiners. A sentence with an example is: ‘What subjects are studying?

The word ‘what’ asks information about the noun, ‘subjects’. So in this case,’what’ is an adjective.

Quantity words like numbers and quantity expressions like a few, some and many are also determiners. Even though determiners are adjectives, the different types play unique roles in sentences, So we will treat them in separate lessons.

For this lesson, we will focus on the strong adjectives (the descriptives): how to

use them correctly by identifying the ‘-ed’ and ‘-ing’ adjectives; comparative and superlative adjectives; and the order of adjectives.

There are lots of adjectives: some are formed from nouns as well as verbs. Forming adjectives with the ending ‘-ed’ and ‘-ing’ can be quite confusing.

Let’s have a look at this chart.

Please try and fill in the blank spaces in the sentences below with the right forms of adjectives in the brackets.

1. The concert was so (a) _________ that everyone was (b)__________. (amuse)

2. You can feel (a)_________ when going on a canopy walk, because it is a

(b)___________ experience.(frighten)

3. It is a very (a) _________ news to hear of and you will feel

(b) ________ all through. (shock

To help fill in with the correct forms of adjectives, we must learn that adjectives ending in ‘-ing’ describe the causes or reasons of feelings whiles the ones ending in ‘-ed’ describe feelings. They tell us how people feel about something and that is the effect of it.

In 1(a) the missing word is ‘amusing’ because that is the cause of watching the concert. 1(b) is ‘amused’ - implying that the effect or how everyone felt after watching it.

The adjective for 2(a) is ‘frightened’ meaning it is the effect / feeling as you go on the canopy walk. 2(b) is ‘frightening’ because the experience is frightening and that causes one to be frightened.

Number 3(a) is ‘shocking’ - it is the process of listening to the news or what happens whilst listening. 3(b) is ‘shocked’ because this is how one feels (the effect) after hearing the news.

So once again adjectives ending in ‘-ing’ express cause / process, whereas adjectives ending in ‘-ed’ express effect / feeling.

The next area in the correct use of adjectives are Comparative and Superlative Adjectives. They are used to compare nouns: People, places, animals and things are being compared using the adjectives. Comparative adjectives are used to compare differences between two nouns. They are found in the form as shown below.

Superlative adjectives are used to compare three or more nouns and they take the form as seen on the chart. To understand these, we are going to compare some donation made by four individuals.

We are using the adjective ‘generous’ to compare the amount each of them contributed.

Using comparative adjectives we can say

1) The amount Man 2 gave is more generous than the amount donated by Man 1.

2) The amount donated by Man 1 is less generous than that of Man 2.

3) The amount donated by Man 3 is more generous than Man 2.

4) The amount contributed by Man 2 is less generous than Man 3.

5) The amount given by Man 4 is as generous as Man 2.

For superlatives we compare all four men and conclude that: