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Adjectives and Adverbs

Adjectives and adverbs can be tricky if you are not familiar with them. Mainly, adjectives modify or describe a pronoun or noun. They usually come before the word that they modify. On the other hand, adverbs modify adjectives, verbs, or adverbs.

TermDefinition
Adjective

An adjective modifies a noun and gives more specific details about something within a sentence. You likely use adjectives several times a day without even realizing it.

Adverb

An adverb adjusts the meaning of other adverbs, verbs or adjectives. Adverbs usually end in -ly, however, not all words ending in -ly are adverbs.

Attributive Adjective

An attributive adjective modifies a noun and normally comes before it, describing a particular attribute of the noun.

Common Adjective

A common adjective is an adjective that should not be grammatically capitalized, unless it is starting a new sentence. Adjectives are a type of word that modify or describe a noun.

Comparative

A comparative is simply the part of speech that is used in order to draw comparisons between one thing or action and another thing or action. For example, if one were to say that the moral character of the younger brother is better than the moral character of the older brother, then the phrase "better than" would be a comparative. This is related to the superlative, which consists of terms such as the "greatest" or the "best".

Demonstrative Adjective

The main purpose of the demonstrative adjective is to allow a speaker to specify the exact object he is talking about, and to do so in relation to his own body. It is essentially a way of pointing at something with language. For example, if someone asks you which peaches you are talking about, then you could point at something and say, "those peaches". On the other hand, if the peaches were close at hand, you would instead say "these peaches". 

Disjunct

By using the disjunct, the speaker/writer is able to convey some impression of how he feels about his own statement. This can be very important depending on the situation, as the mood of a statement can often change its meaning. For example, if bad news is prefaced with the disjunct "unfortunately", then this will let the listener know that the speaker is a sympathetic person just doing his duty, and not some cruel person who takes pleasure in the news itself.

Possessive Adjective

The possessive adjective can be understood as similar to the demonstrative adjective in its function: its purpose is to select one noun out of a broader class of nouns. The possessive adjective, though, focuses on relationship rather than location. For example, if you want to speak of a specific party, you can call it "his" party. The most important thing when using the possessive adjective is to make sure that gender and number match up with the owner.

Predicative Adjective

The predicative adjective is primarily used when describing a given noun is in fact the main purpose of an entire sense. For example, if one were to say "the man is happy", then that would be a complete sentence, and its purpose would be simply to describe the person's mood. The sentence could be reformatted with the use of an attributive adjective: instead of saying "the man is happy", one could say "the happy man". This would allow for the construction of more complex sentences than what is possible with the predicative adjective.

Proper Adjective

When a person, place, or thing achieves such a level of fame that the noun has gathered an entire array of meanings itself, then that noun could be used to actually describe other nouns. For example, if a poem resembles something written by Shakespeare, then it can be called Shakespearean—and that would be a proper adjective. Read Shakespeare’s complete works for more examples. Fame is usually necessary for a proper adjective, because otherwise, the audience may not know what is supposed to be meant.

Resultative Adjective

The resultative adjective, when used correctly within a sentence, can sound somewhat "slangy", due to the fact that the construction is somewhat rare within the English language. The resultative adjective is being used, for example, when one says that a judge rendered a decision null and void: here, null and void is the adjective, and it modifies the decision. However, there are usually other, more "normal-sounding" ways of saying the same thing. 

Superlative

The superlative is closely related to the comparative; but whereas the comparative marks a relative distinction, the superlative marks an absolute distinction. This is the difference, for example, between saying that one is "greater than" the other, and saying one is the "greatest" of them all. The "-est" suffix is common for the superlative construction, as is the use of the word "most". The superlative can be either an adjective or an adverb. 

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