Adjective

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In linguistics, an adjective (abbreviated adj) is a word that modifies a noun or noun phrase or describes its referent. Adjective_sentence_0

Its semantic role is to change information given by the noun. Adjective_sentence_1

Adjectives are one of the main parts of speech of the English language, although historically they were classed together with nouns. Adjective_sentence_2

Certain words that were traditionally considered to be adjectives, including the, this, my, etc., are today usually classed separately, as determiners. Adjective_sentence_3

Etymology Adjective_section_0

See also: Part of speech § History, and Noun § History Adjective_sentence_4

Adjective comes from Latin nōmen adjectīvum, a calque of Ancient Greek: ἐπίθετον ὄνομα, romanized: epítheton ónoma, lit. Adjective_sentence_5

'additional noun'. Adjective_sentence_6

In the grammatical tradition of Latin and Greek, because adjectives were inflected for gender, number, and case like nouns (a process called declension), they were considered a type of noun. Adjective_sentence_7

The words that are today typically called nouns were then called substantive nouns (nōmen substantīvum). Adjective_sentence_8

The terms noun substantive and noun adjective were formerly used in English but are now obsolete. Adjective_sentence_9

Types of use Adjective_section_1

Depending on the language, an adjective can precede a corresponding noun on a prepositive basis or it can follow a corresponding noun on a postpositive basis. Adjective_sentence_10

Structural, contextual, and style considerations can impinge on the pre- or post- position of an adjective in a given instance of its occurrence. Adjective_sentence_11

In English, occurrences of adjectives generally can be classified into one of three categories: Adjective_sentence_12

Adjective_ordered_list_0

  1. Prepositive adjectives, which are also known as "attributive adjectives," occur on an antecedent basis within a noun phrase. For example: "I put my happy kids into the car," wherein happy occurs on an antecedent basis within the my happy kids noun phrase, and therefore functions in a prepositive adjective.Adjective_item_0_0
  2. Postpositive adjectives can occur: (a) immediately subsequent to a noun within a noun phrase, e.g. "I took a short drive around with my happy kids;" (b) as linked via a copula or other linking mechanism subsequent to a corresponding noun or pronoun; for example: "My kids are happy," wherein happy is a predicate adjective (see also: Predicative expression, Subject complement); or (c) as an appositive adjective within a noun phrase, e.g. "My kids, [who are] happy to go cruising, are in the back seat."Adjective_item_0_1
  3. Nominalized adjectives, which function as nouns. One way this happens is by eliding a noun from an adjective-noun noun phrase, whose remnant thus is a nominalization. In the sentence, "I read two books to them; he preferred the sad book, but she preferred the happy", happy is a nominalized adjective, short for "happy one" or "happy book". Another way this happens is in phrases like "out with the old, in with the new", where "the old" means "that which is old" or "all that is old", and similarly with "the new". In such cases, the adjective may function as a mass noun (as in the preceding example). In English, it may also function as a plural count noun denoting a collective group, as in "The meek shall inherit the Earth", where "the meek" means "those who are meek" or "all who are meek".Adjective_item_0_2

Distribution Adjective_section_2

Adjectives feature as a part of speech (word class) in most languages. Adjective_sentence_13

In some languages, the words that serve the semantic function of adjectives are categorized together with some other class, such as nouns or verbs. Adjective_sentence_14

In the phrase "a Ford car", "Ford" is unquestionably a noun but its function is adjectival: to modify "car". Adjective_sentence_15

In some languages adjectives can function as nouns: for example, the Spanish phrase "uno rojo" means "a red [one]". Adjective_sentence_16

As for "confusion" with verbs, rather than an adjective meaning "big", a language might have a verb that means "to be big" and could then use an attributive verb construction analogous to "big-being house" to express what in English is called a "big house". Adjective_sentence_17

Such an analysis is possible for the grammar of Standard Chinese, for example. Adjective_sentence_18

Different languages do not use adjectives in exactly the same situations. Adjective_sentence_19

For example, where English uses "to be hungry" (hungry being an adjective), Dutch, French, and Spanish use "honger hebben", "avoir faim", and "tener hambre" respectively (literally "to have hunger", the words for "hunger" being nouns). Adjective_sentence_20

Similarly, where Hebrew uses the adjective זקוק‎ (zaqūq, roughly "in need of"), English uses the verb "to need". Adjective_sentence_21

In languages that have adjectives as a word class, it is usually an open class; that is, it is relatively common for new adjectives to be formed via such processes as derivation. Adjective_sentence_22

However, Bantu languages are well known for having only a small closed class of adjectives, and new adjectives are not easily derived. Adjective_sentence_23

Similarly, native Japanese adjectives (i-adjectives) are considered a closed class (as are native verbs), although nouns (an open class) may be used in the genitive to convey some adjectival meanings, and there is also the separate open class of adjectival nouns (na-adjectives). Adjective_sentence_24

Adverbs Adjective_section_3

Many languages (including English) distinguish between adjectives, which qualify nouns and pronouns, and adverbs, which mainly modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. Adjective_sentence_25

Not all languages make this exact distinction; many (including English) have words that can function as either. Adjective_sentence_26

For example, in English, fast is an adjective in "a fast car" (where it qualifies the noun car) but an adverb in "he drove fast" (where it modifies the verb drove). Adjective_sentence_27

In Dutch and German, adjectives and adverbs are usually identical in form and many grammarians do not make the distinction, but patterns of inflection can suggest a difference: Adjective_sentence_28

Adjective_description_list_1

  • Eine kluge neue Idee.Adjective_item_1_3
    • A clever new idea.Adjective_item_1_4
  • Eine klug ausgereifte Idee.Adjective_item_1_5
    • A cleverly developed idea.Adjective_item_1_6

A German word like klug ("clever(ly)") takes endings when used as an attributive adjective but not when used adverbially. Adjective_sentence_29

(It also takes no endings when used as a predicative adjective: er ist klug, "he is clever".) Adjective_sentence_30

Whether these are distinct parts of speech or distinct usages of the same part of speech is a question of analysis. Adjective_sentence_31

It can be noted that, while German linguistic terminology distinguishes adverbiale from adjektivische Formen, German refers to both as Eigenschaftswörter ("property words"). Adjective_sentence_32

Determiners Adjective_section_4

Main article: Determiner Adjective_sentence_33

Linguists today distinguish determiners from adjectives, considering them to be two separate parts of speech (or lexical categories). Adjective_sentence_34

But formerly determiners were considered to be adjectives in some of their uses. Adjective_sentence_35

Determiners are words that are neither nouns nor pronouns, yet reference a thing already in context. Adjective_sentence_36

They generally do this by indicating definiteness (a vs. the), quantity (one vs. some vs. many), or another such property. Adjective_sentence_37

Adjective phrases Adjective_section_5

Main article: Adjective phrase Adjective_sentence_38

An adjective acts as the head of an adjective phrase or adjectival phrase (AP). Adjective_sentence_39

In the simplest case, an adjective phrase consists solely of the adjective; more complex adjective phrases may contain one or more adverbs modifying the adjective ("very strong"), or one or more complements (such as "worth several dollars", "full of toys", or "eager to please"). Adjective_sentence_40

In English, attributive adjective phrases that include complements typically follow the noun that they qualify ("an evildoer devoid of redeeming qualities"). Adjective_sentence_41

Other modifiers of nouns Adjective_section_6

In many languages (including English) it is possible for nouns to modify other nouns. Adjective_sentence_42

Unlike adjectives, nouns acting as modifiers (called attributive nouns or noun adjuncts) usually are not predicative; a beautiful park is beautiful, but a car park is not "car". Adjective_sentence_43

The modifier often indicates origin ("Virginia reel"), purpose ("work clothes"), semantic patient ("man eater") or semantic subject ("child actor"); however, it may generally indicate almost any semantic relationship. Adjective_sentence_44

It is also common for adjectives to be derived from nouns, as in boyish, birdlike, behavioral (behavioural), famous, manly, angelic, and so on. Adjective_sentence_45

In Australian Aboriginal languages, the distinction between adjectives and nouns is typically thought weak, and many of the languages only use nouns--or nouns with a limited set of adjective-deriving affixes--to modify other nouns. Adjective_sentence_46

In languages that have a subtle adjective-noun distinction, one way to tell them apart is that a modifying adjective can come to stand in for an entire elided noun phrase, while a modifying noun cannot. Adjective_sentence_47

For example, in Bardi, the adjective moorrooloo 'little' in the phrase moorrooloo baawa ‘little child’ can stand on its own to mean 'the little one,' while the attributive noun aamba 'man' in the phrase aamba baawa 'male child' cannot stand for the whole phrase to mean 'the male one.' Adjective_sentence_48

In other languages, like Warlpiri, nouns and adjectives are lumped together beneath the nominal umbrella because of their shared syntactic distribution as arguments of predicates. Adjective_sentence_49

The only thing distinguishing them is that some nominals seem to semantically denote entities (typically nouns in English) and some nominals seem to denote attributes (typically adjectives in English). Adjective_sentence_50

Many languages have special verbal forms called participles that can act as noun modifiers (alone or as the head of a phrase). Adjective_sentence_51

Sometimes participles develop into pure adjectives. Adjective_sentence_52

Examples in English include relieved (the past participle of the verb relieve, used as an adjective in sentences such as "I am so relieved to see you"), spoken (as in "the spoken word"), and going (the present participle of the verb go, used as an adjective in such phrases as "the going rate"). Adjective_sentence_53

Other constructs that often modify nouns include prepositional phrases (as in "a rebel without a cause"), relative clauses (as in "the man who wasn't there"), and infinitive phrases (as in "a cake to die for"). Adjective_sentence_54

Some nouns can also take complements such as content clauses (as in "the idea that I would do that"), but these are not commonly considered modifiers. Adjective_sentence_55

For more information about possible modifiers and dependents of nouns, see Components of noun phrases. Adjective_sentence_56

Order Adjective_section_7

In many languages, attributive adjectives usually occur in a specific order. Adjective_sentence_57

In general, the adjective order in English can be summarised as: opinion, size, age or shape, colour, origin, material, purpose. Adjective_sentence_58

This sequence (with age preceding shape) is sometimes referred to by the mnemonic OSASCOMP. Adjective_sentence_59

Other language authorities, like the Cambridge Dictionary, state that shape precedes rather than follows age. Adjective_sentence_60

Determiners—articles, numerals and other limiters (e.g. three blind mice)—come before attributive adjectives in English. Adjective_sentence_61

Although certain combinations of determiners can appear before a noun, they are far more circumscribed than adjectives in their use—typically, only a single determiner would appear before a noun or noun phrase (including any attributive adjectives). Adjective_sentence_62

Adjective_ordered_list_2

  1. Opinion – limiter adjectives (e.g. a real hero, a perfect idiot) and adjectives of subjective measure (e.g. beautiful, interesting) or value (e.g. good, bad, costly)Adjective_item_2_7
  2. Size – adjectives denoting physical size (e.g. tiny, big, extensive)Adjective_item_2_8
  3. Age – adjectives denoting age (e.g. young, old, new, ancient, six-year-old)Adjective_item_2_9
  4. Shape – adjectives describing more detailed physical attributes than overall size (e.g. round, sharp, swollen)Adjective_item_2_10
  5. Colour – adjectives denoting colour (e.g. white, black, pale)Adjective_item_2_11
  6. Origin – denominal adjectives denoting source (e.g. French, volcanic, extraterrestrial)Adjective_item_2_12
  7. Material – denominal adjectives denoting what something is made of (e.g., woollen, metallic, wooden)Adjective_item_2_13
  8. Qualifier/purpose – final limiter, which sometimes forms part of the (compound) noun (e.g., rocking chair, hunting cabin, passenger car, book cover)Adjective_item_2_14

This means that, in English, adjectives pertaining to size precede adjectives pertaining to age ("little old", not "old little"), which in turn generally precede adjectives pertaining to colour ("old white", not "white old"). Adjective_sentence_63

So, one would say "One (quantity) nice (opinion) little (size) old (age) round (shape) [or round old] white (colour) brick (material) house." Adjective_sentence_64

When several adjectives of the same type are used together, they are ordered from general to specific, like "lovely intelligent person" or "old medieval castle". Adjective_sentence_65

This order may be more rigid in some languages than others; in some, like Spanish, it may only be a default (unmarked) word order, with other orders being permissible. Adjective_sentence_66

Other languages, such as Tagalog, follow their adjectival orders as rigidly as English. Adjective_sentence_67

The normal adjectival order of English may be overridden in certain circumstances, especially when one adjective is being . Adjective_sentence_68

For example, the usual order of adjectives in English would result in the phrase "the bad big wolf" (opinion before size), but instead, the usual phrase is "the big bad wolf". Adjective_sentence_69

Owing partially to borrowings from French, English has some adjectives that follow the noun as postmodifiers, called postpositive adjectives, as in time immemorial and attorney general. Adjective_sentence_70

Adjectives may even change meaning depending on whether they precede or follow, as in proper: They live in a proper town (a real town, not a village) vs. Adjective_sentence_71

They live in the town proper (in the town itself, not in the suburbs). Adjective_sentence_72

All adjectives can follow nouns in certain constructions, such as tell me something new. Adjective_sentence_73

Comparison (degrees) Adjective_section_8

Main articles: Comparison (grammar) and Comparative Adjective_sentence_74

In many languages, some adjectives are comparable and the measure of comparison is called degree. Adjective_sentence_75

For example, a person may be "polite", but another person may be "more polite", and a third person may be the "most polite" of the three. Adjective_sentence_76

The word "more" here modifies the adjective "polite" to indicate a comparison is being made, and "most" modifies the adjective to indicate an absolute comparison (a superlative). Adjective_sentence_77

Among languages that allow adjectives to be compared, different means are used to indicate comparison. Adjective_sentence_78

Some languages do not distinguish between comparative and superlative forms. Adjective_sentence_79

Other languages allow adjectives to be compared but do not have a special comparative form of the adjective. Adjective_sentence_80

In such cases, as in some Australian Aboriginal languages, case-marking, such as the ablative case may be used to indicate one entity has more of an adjectival quality than (i.e. from—hence ABL) another. Adjective_sentence_81

Take the following example in Bardi: Adjective_sentence_82

In English, many adjectives can be inflected to comparative and superlative forms by taking the suffixes "-er" and "-est" (sometimes requiring additional letters before the suffix; see forms for far below), respectively: Adjective_sentence_83

Adjective_description_list_3

  • "great", "greater", "greatest"Adjective_item_3_15
  • "deep", "deeper", "deepest"Adjective_item_3_16

Some adjectives are irregular in this sense: Adjective_sentence_84

Adjective_description_list_4

  • "good", "better", "best"Adjective_item_4_17
  • "bad", "worse", "worst"Adjective_item_4_18
  • "many", "more", "most" (sometimes regarded as an adverb or determiner)Adjective_item_4_19
  • "little", "less", "least"Adjective_item_4_20

Some adjectives can have both regular and irregular variations: Adjective_sentence_85

Adjective_description_list_5

  • "old", "older", "oldest"Adjective_item_5_21
  • "far", "farther", "farthest"Adjective_item_5_22

also Adjective_sentence_86

Adjective_description_list_6

  • "old", "elder", "eldest"Adjective_item_6_23
  • "far", "further", "furthest"Adjective_item_6_24

Another way to convey comparison is by incorporating the words "more" and "most". Adjective_sentence_87

There is no simple rule to decide which means is correct for any given adjective, however. Adjective_sentence_88

The general tendency is for simpler adjectives and those from Anglo-Saxon to take the suffixes, while longer adjectives and those from French, Latin, or Greek do not—but sometimes sound of the word is the deciding factor. Adjective_sentence_89

Many adjectives do not naturally lend themselves to comparison. Adjective_sentence_90

For example, some English speakers would argue that it does not make sense to say that one thing is "more ultimate" than another, or that something is "most ultimate", since the word "ultimate" is already absolute in its semantics. Adjective_sentence_91

Such adjectives are called non-comparable or absolute. Adjective_sentence_92

Nevertheless, native speakers will frequently play with the raised forms of adjectives of this sort. Adjective_sentence_93

Although "pregnant" is logically non-comparable (either one is pregnant or not), one may hear a sentence like "She looks more and more pregnant each day". Adjective_sentence_94

Likewise "extinct" and "equal" appear to be non-comparable, but one might say that a language about which nothing is known is "more extinct" than a well-documented language with surviving literature but no speakers, while George Orwell wrote, "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others". Adjective_sentence_95

These cases may be viewed as evidence that the base forms of these adjectives are not as absolute in their semantics as is usually thought. Adjective_sentence_96

Comparative and superlative forms are also occasionally used for other purposes than comparison. Adjective_sentence_97

In English comparatives can be used to suggest that a statement is only tentative or tendential: one might say "John is more the shy-and-retiring type," where the comparative "more" is not really comparing him with other people or with other impressions of him, but rather, could be substituting for "on the whole". Adjective_sentence_98

In Italian, superlatives are frequently used to put strong emphasis on an adjective: bellissimo means "most beautiful", but is in fact more commonly heard in the sense "extremely beautiful". Adjective_sentence_99

Restrictiveness Adjective_section_9

Main article: Restrictiveness Adjective_sentence_100

Attributive adjectives and other noun modifiers may be used either restrictively (helping to identify the noun's referent, hence "restricting" its reference) or non-restrictively (helping to describe a noun ). Adjective_sentence_101

For example: Adjective_sentence_102

Adjective_description_list_7

  • He was a lazy sort, who would avoid a difficult task and fill his working hours with easy ones.Adjective_item_7_25
    • "difficult" is restrictive – it tells us which tasks he avoids, distinguishing these from the easy ones: "Only those tasks that are difficult".Adjective_item_7_26
  • She had the job of sorting out the mess left by her predecessor, and she performed this difficult task with great acumen.Adjective_item_7_27
    • "difficult" is non-restrictive – we already know which task it was, but the adjective describes it more fully: "The aforementioned task, which (by the way) is difficult"Adjective_item_7_28

In some languages, such as Spanish, restrictiveness is consistently marked; for example, in Spanish la tarea difícil means "the difficult task" in the sense of "the task that is difficult" (restrictive), whereas la difícil tarea means "the difficult task" in the sense of "the task, which is difficult" (non-restrictive). Adjective_sentence_103

In English, restrictiveness is not marked on adjectives but is marked on relative clauses (the difference between "the man who recognized me was there" and "the man, who recognized me, was there" being one of restrictiveness). Adjective_sentence_104

Agreement Adjective_section_10

In some languages, adjectives alter their form to reflect the gender, case and number of the noun that they describe. Adjective_sentence_105

This is called agreement or concord. Adjective_sentence_106

Usually it takes the form of inflections at the end of the word, as in Latin: Adjective_sentence_107

Adjective_description_list_8

  • puella bona (good girl, feminine singular nominative) puellam bonam (good girl, feminine singular accusative/object case) puer bonus (good boy, masculine singular nominative) pueri boni (good boys, masculine plural nominative)Adjective_item_8_29

In Celtic languages, however, initial consonant lenition marks the adjective with a feminine singular noun, as in Irish: Adjective_sentence_108

Adjective_description_list_9

  • buachaill maith (good boy, masculine) girseach mhaith (good girl, feminine)Adjective_item_9_30

Often, distinction is made here between attributive and predicative usage. Adjective_sentence_109

In English, adjectives never agree, whereas in French, they always agree. Adjective_sentence_110

In German, they agree only when they are used attributively, and in Hungarian, they agree only when they are used predicatively: Adjective_sentence_111

Adjective_description_list_10

  • The good (Ø) boys. The boys are good (Ø). Les bons garçons. Les garçons sont bons. Die braven Jungen. Die Jungen sind brav (Ø). A jó (Ø) fiúk. A fiúk jók.Adjective_item_10_31

See also Adjective_section_11

Adjective_unordered_list_11


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adjective.