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(New page: {{LangPsy}} {{ExamplesSidebar|35%| *That's a '''big''' building. *I met a very '''old''' man. *He was feeling '''tired'''. *The '''quick''' '''brown''' fox jumps over the '''lazy''' dog. *...)
 
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{{LangPsy}}
 
{{LangPsy}}
{{ExamplesSidebar|35%|
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*The '''quick''', '''brown''' fox jumps over the '''lazy''' dog.
*That's a '''big''' building.
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*That's an '''interesting''' idea. (Attributive.)
*I met a very '''old''' man.
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*That idea is '''interesting'''. (Predicative.)
*He was feeling '''tired'''.
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*{{nowrap|Tell me something '''interesting'''. (Post-positive.)}}}}
*The '''quick''' '''brown''' fox jumps over the '''lazy''' dog.
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{{Wiktionary|adjective}}
*Most monkeys are '''arboreal''' creatures that inhabit '''tropical''' or '''subtropical''' areas.}}
 
   
In [[grammar]], an '''adjective''' is a word whose main [[syntax|syntactic]] role is to [[grammatical modifier|modify]] a [[noun]] or [[pronoun]] (called the adjective's ''[[subject (grammar)|subject]]'', giving more information about what the noun or pronoun refers to. Collectively, adjectives form one of the traditional eight [[part of speech|parts of speech]], though [[linguistics|linguists]] today distinguish adjectives from words such as [[determiner]]s that used to be considered adjectives but that are now recognized to be different.
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In [[grammar]], an '''adjective''' is a word whose main [[syntax|syntactic]] role is to [[grammatical modifier|modify]] a [[noun]] or [[pronoun]], giving more information about the noun or pronoun's referent. Collectively, adjectives form one of the traditional English eight [[part of speech|parts of speech]], though [[linguistics|linguists]] today distinguish adjectives from words such as [[Determiner (class)|determiners]] that also used to be considered adjectives.
   
Not all [[language]]s have adjectives, but most, including [[English language|English]], do. (English adjectives include ''big'', ''old'', and ''tired'', among many others.) Those that don't typically use words of another part of speech, often verbs, to serve the same [[semantics|semantic]] function; for example, such a language might have a verb that means "to be big", and would use a construction analogous to "big-being house" to express what English expresses as "big house". Even in languages that do have adjectives, one language's adjective might not be another's; for example, where English has "to be hungry" (''hungry'' being an adjective), French has "avoir faim" (literally "to have hunger"), and where Hebrew has the adjective "צריך" (roughly "in need of"), English uses the verb "to need".
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Not all [[language]]s have adjectives, but most, including [[English language|English]], do. (English adjectives include ''big'', ''old'', and ''tired'', among many others.) Those that do not, typically use words of another part of speech, often verbs, to serve the same [[semantics|semantic]] function; for example, such a language might have a verb that means "to be big", and would use a construction analogous to "big-being house" to express what English expresses as "big house". Even in languages that do have adjectives, one language's adjective might not be another's; for example, while English uses "to be hungry" (''hungry'' being an adjective), French uses "avoir faim" (literally "to have hunger"), and where Hebrew uses the adjective "זקוק" (''zaqūq'', roughly "in need of"), English uses the verb "to need".
   
 
In most languages with adjectives, they form an [[open class (linguistics)|open class]] of words; that is, it is relatively common for new adjectives to be formed via such processes as [[derivation (linguistics)|derivation]].
 
In most languages with adjectives, they form an [[open class (linguistics)|open class]] of words; that is, it is relatively common for new adjectives to be formed via such processes as [[derivation (linguistics)|derivation]].
   
== Adjectives and adverbs ==
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==Adjectives and adverbs==
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Many languages, including English, distinguish between adjectives, which modify nouns and pronouns, and [[adverb]]s, which modify [[verb]]s, adjectives, and other adverbs. Not all languages have exactly this distinction, however, and in many languages (including English) there are words that can function as both. For example, in English ''fast'' is an adjective in "a fast car" (where it modifies the noun ''car''), but an adverb in "he drove fast" (where it modifies the verb ''drove'').
   
Many languages distinguish between adjectives, which modify nouns and pronouns, and [[adverb]]s, which modify [[verb]]s, adjectives, and other adverbs. Not all languages have exactly this distinction, however, and in many languages (including English) there are many words that can function as both. For example, English ''fast'' is an adjective in "a fast car", but an adverb in "he drove fast".
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==Determiners==
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{{Main|Determiner (class)}}
   
== Determiners ==
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Linguists today distinguish determiners from adjectives, considering them to be two separate parts of speech (or ''lexical categories''), but traditionally, determiners were considered adjectives in some of their uses. (In English dictionaries, which typically still do not treat determiners as their own part of speech, determiners are often recognizable by being listed both as adjectives and as pronouns.) Determiners are words that express the reference of a noun in the context, generally indicating [[definiteness]] (as in ''a'' vs. ''the''), [[quantity]] (as in ''one'' vs. ''some'' vs. ''many''), or another such property.
   
{{main|Determiner (class)}}
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<!-- Currently [[Attributive adjective]], [[Predicative adjective]], [[Absolute adjective]], and [[Substantive adjective]] all redirect here. These span tags allow them to link directly to the relevant section of this article. --><span id="Attributive adjective" /><span id="Predicative adjective" /><span id="Absolute adjective" /><span id="Substantive adjective" />
 
Linguists today distinguish determiners from adjectives, considering them to be two separate parts of speech (or ''lexical categories''), but traditionally, determiners were considered to be adjectives in some of their uses. (In English dictionaries, which typically still do not treat determiners as their own part of speech, determiners are often recognizable by being listed both as adjectives and as pronouns.) Determiners are words that express the reference of a noun in the context, generally indicating [[definiteness]] (as in ''a'' vs. ''the''), [[quantity]] (as in ''one'' vs. ''some'' vs. ''many''), or another such property.
 
 
== Attributive, predicative, absolute, and substantive adjectives ==
 
   
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==Form==
 
A given occurrence of an adjective can generally be classified into one of four kinds of uses:
 
A given occurrence of an adjective can generally be classified into one of four kinds of uses:
   
* ''Attributive'' adjectives are part of the [[noun phrase]] headed by the noun they modify; for example, ''happy'' is an attributive adjective in "happy kids". In some languages, attributive adjectives precede their nouns; in others, they follow their nouns; and in yet others, it depends on the adjective, or on the exact relationship of the adjective to the noun. In English, attributive adjectives usually precede their nouns.
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* ''Attributive'' adjectives are part of the [[noun phrase]] headed by the noun they modify; for example, ''happy'' is an attributive adjective in "happy people". In some languages, attributive adjectives precede their nouns; in others, they follow their nouns; and in yet others, it depends on the adjective, or on the exact relationship of the adjective to the noun. In English, attributive adjectives usually precede their nouns in simple phrases, but often follow their nouns when the adjective is modified or qualified by a phrase acting as an adverb. For example: "I saw three happy kids", and "I saw three kids happy enough to jump up and down with glee." See also [[Post-positive adjective]].
* ''Predicative'' adjectives are linked via a [[copula]] or other linking mechanism to the noun or pronoun they modify; for example, ''happy'' is a predicate adjective in "they are happy" and in "that made me happy".
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* ''Predicative'' adjectives are linked via a [[Copula (linguistics)|copula]] or other linking mechanism to the noun or pronoun they modify; for example, ''happy'' is a predicate adjective in "they are happy" and in "that made me happy." (See also: [[Predicative (adjectival or nominal)]], [[Subject complement]].)
 
* ''Absolute'' adjectives do not belong to a larger construction (aside from a larger adjective phrase), and typically modify either the [[subject (grammar)|subject]] of a sentence or whatever noun or pronoun they are closest to; for example, ''happy'' is an absolute adjective in "The boy, happy with his lollipop, did not look where he was going."
 
* ''Absolute'' adjectives do not belong to a larger construction (aside from a larger adjective phrase), and typically modify either the [[subject (grammar)|subject]] of a sentence or whatever noun or pronoun they are closest to; for example, ''happy'' is an absolute adjective in "The boy, happy with his lollipop, did not look where he was going."
* ''Substantive'' adjectives act almost as nouns; they remain behind when a noun is [[elision|elided]]. For example, ''happy'' is a substantive adjective in "The truly happy bring happiness to others."
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* ''Substantive'' adjectives act almost as nouns. One way this can happen is if a noun is [[elision|elided]] and an attributive adjective is left behind. In the sentence, "I read two books to them; he preferred the sad book, but she preferred the happy", ''happy'' is a substantive adjective, short for "happy one" or "happy book". Another way this can happen 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 functions either as a [[mass noun]] (as in the preceding example) or as a plural [[count noun]], as in "The meek shall inherit the Earth", where "the meek" means "those who are meek" or "all who are meek".
   
== Adjective phrases ==
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==Adjectival phrases==
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{{Main|Adjectival phrase}}
   
{{main|Adjective phrase}}
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An adjective acts as the head of an ''adjectival phrase''. In the simplest case, an adjectival phrase consists solely of the adjective; more complex adjectival phrases may contain one or more [[adverb]]s modifying the adjective ("''very'' strong"), or one or more [[complement (linguistics)|complements]] (such as "worth ''several dollars''", "full ''of toys''", or "eager ''to please''"). In English, attributive adjectival phrases that include complements typically follow their subject ("an evildoer ''devoid of redeeming qualities''").
   
An adjective acts as the head of an ''adjective phrase'' (or ''adjectival phrase''). In the simplest case, an adjective phrase consists solely of the adjective; more complex adjective phrases may contain one or more [[adverb]]s modifying the adjective ("''very'' strong"), or one or more [[complement (linguistics)|complements]] ("worth ''several dollars''", "full ''of toys''", "eager ''to please''). In English, attributive adjective phrases that include complements typically follow their subjects ("an evildoer ''devoid of redeeming qualities''").
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==Other noun modifiers==
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In many languages, including English, it is possible for nouns to modify other nouns. Unlike adjectives, nouns acting as modifiers (called ''attributive nouns'' or ''[[noun adjunct]]s'') are not predicative; a beautiful park is beautiful, but a car park is not "car". In English, the modifier often indicates origin ("''Virginia'' reel"), purpose ("''work'' clothes"), or semantic [[Patient (grammar)|patient]] ("''man'' eater"). However, it can generally indicate almost any semantic relationship. It is also common for adjectives to be [[derivation (linguistics)|derived]] from nouns, as in English ''boyish'', ''birdlike'', ''behavioral'', ''famous'', ''manly'', ''angelic'', and so on.
   
== Other noun modifiers ==
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Many languages have special verbal forms called ''[[participle]]s'' that can act as noun modifiers. In some languages, including English, there is a strong tendency for participles to evolve into adjectives. English examples of this 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 sentences such as "Ten dollars per hour is the going rate").
   
In many languages, including English, it is possible for nouns to modify other nouns. Unlike adjectives, nouns acting as modifiers (called ''attributive nouns'' or ''[[noun adjunct]]s'') are not predicative; a red car is red, but a car park is not "car". In English, the modifier often indicates origin ("''Virginia'' reel"), purpose ("''work'' clothes"), or semantic [[Patient (grammar)|patient]] ("''man'' eater"). However, it can generally indicate almost any semantic relationship. It is also common for adjectives to be [[derivation (linguistics)|derived]] from nouns, as in English ''boyish'', ''birdlike'', ''behavioral'', ''famous'', ''manly'', ''angelic'', and so on.
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Other constructs that often modify nouns include [[preposition]]al phrases (as in English "a rebel ''without a cause''"), [[relative clause]]s (as in English "the man ''who wasn't there''"), other adjective [[clause]]s (as in English "the bookstore ''where he worked''"), and [[infinitive]] phrases (as in English "cake'' to die for''").
   
Many languages have special verbal forms called ''[[participle]]s'' that can act as noun modifiers. In some languages, including English, there is a strong tendency for participles to evolve into adjectives. English examples of this include ''relieved'' (the past participle of the verb ''relief'', used as an adjective in sentences such as "I am so relieved to see you") and ''going'' (the present participle of the verb ''go'', used as an adjective in sentences such as "Ten dollars per hour is the going rate").
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In relation, many nouns take complements such as [[content clause]]s (as in English "the idea ''that I would do that''"); these are not commonly considered modifiers, however.
   
Other constructs that often modify nouns include [[preposition]]al phrases (as in English "a rebel ''without a cause''"), [[relative clause]]s (as in English "the man ''who wasn't there''"), other adjective [[clause]]s (as in English "the bookstore ''where he worked''"), and [[infinitive]] phrases (as in English "pizza ''to die for''").
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==Adjective order==
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In many languages, attributive adjectives usually occur in a specific order. Generally, the adjective order in English is;<ref>[http://www-users.cs.york.ac.uk/~susan/cyc/a/adj.htm University of York, Adjective order in English]</ref>
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# article or pronouns used as adjectives
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# intensifier
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# quality
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# size
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# age
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# color
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# participle
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# proper adjective
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# noun used as adjectives
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# headnoun
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So, in English, adjectives pertaining to size precede adjectives pertaining to age ("little old", not "old little"), which in turn generally precede adjectives pertaining to color ("old white", not "white old"). So, we would say "A nice (opinion) little (size) old (age) white (color) brick (material) house". However, some native speakers will say, "a big, ugly desk" (size, opinion) instead of "an ugly, big desk" (opinion, size), for example.
   
Relatedly, many nouns take complements such as [[content clause]]s (as in English "the idea ''that I would do that''"); these are not commonly considered modifiers, however.
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This order may be more rigid in some languages than others; in some, like Spanish, it may only be a default (''[[markedness|unmarked]]'') word order, with other orders being permissible to shift the emphasis.
   
== Adjective order ==
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==Comparison of adjectives==
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{{Main|Comparison (grammar)|Comparative}}
   
In many languages, attributive adjectives usually occur in a specific order; for example, in English, adjectives pertaining to size generally precede adjectives pertaining to age ("little old", not "old little"), which in turn generally precede adjectives pertaining to color ("old green", not "green old"). This order may be more rigid in some languages than others; in some it may only be a default (''[[markedness|unmarked]]'') word order, with other orders being permissible so as to shift the emphasis.
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In many languages, adjectives can be ''compared''. In English, for example, we can say that a car is ''big'', that it is ''bigger'' than another is, or that it is the ''biggest'' car of all. Not all adjectives lend themselves to comparison, however; for example, the English adjective ''extinct'' is not considered comparable, in that it does not make sense to describe one species as "more extinct" than another. However, even most non-comparable English adjectives are still ''sometimes'' compared; for example, 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. This is not a comparison of the degree of intensity of the adjective, but rather the degree to which the object fits the adjective's definition.
   
== Comparison of adjectives ==
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Comparable adjectives are also known as "gradable" adjectives, because they tend to allow grading adverbs such as ''very'', ''rather'', and so on.
   
{{main|Comparison|Comparative}}
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Among languages that allow adjectives to be compared in this way, different approaches are used. Indeed, even within English, two different approaches are used: the suffixes ''-er'' and ''-est'', and the words ''more'' and ''most''. (In English, the general tendency is for shorter adjectives and adjectives from [[Anglo-Saxon language|Anglo-Saxon]] to use ''-er'' and ''-est'', and for longer adjectives and adjectives from [[French language|French]], [[Latin]], [[Greek language|Greek]], and other languages to use ''more'' and ''most''.) By either approach, English adjectives therefore have ''positive'' forms (''big''), ''comparative'' forms (''bigger''), and ''superlative'' forms (''biggest''). However, many other languages do not distinguish comparative from superlative forms.
   
In many languages, adjectives can be ''compared''. In English, for example, we can say that a car is ''big'', that it is ''bigger'' than another, or that it is the ''biggest'' car of all. Not all adjectives lend themselves to comparison, however; for example, the English adjective ''even'', in the sense of "being a multiple of two", is not considered comparable, in that it does not make sense to describe one integer as "more even" than another.
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==Restrictiveness==
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{{Main|Restrictiveness}}
Among languages that allow adjectives to be compared in this way, different approaches are used. Indeed, even within English, two different approaches are used: the suffixes ''-er'' and ''-est'', and the words ''more'' and ''most''. (In English, the general tendency is for shorter adjectives and adjectives from [[Anglo-Saxon language|Anglo-Saxon]] to use ''-er'' and ''-est'', and for longer adjectives and adjectives from [[French language|French]], [[Latin]], [[Greek language|Greek]], and other languages to use ''more'' and ''most''.) By either approach, English adjectives therefore have ''positive'' forms (''big''), ''comparative'' forms (''bigger''), and ''superlative'' forms (''biggest''); many languages do not distinguish comparative from superlative forms, however.
 
 
== Restrictiveness ==
 
 
{{main|Restrictiveness}}
 
   
 
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 an already-identified noun). In some languages, such as [[Spanish language|Spanish]], restrictiveness is consistently marked; for example, Spanish ''la tarea difícil'' means "the difficult task" in the sense of "the task that is difficult" (restrictive), while ''la difícil tarea'' means "the difficult task" in the sense of "the task, which is difficult" (non-restrictive). 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).
 
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 an already-identified noun). In some languages, such as [[Spanish language|Spanish]], restrictiveness is consistently marked; for example, Spanish ''la tarea difícil'' means "the difficult task" in the sense of "the task that is difficult" (restrictive), while ''la difícil tarea'' means "the difficult task" in the sense of "the task, which is difficult" (non-restrictive). 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).
   
==Aquisition of adjectives in language development==
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==See also==
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* [[Attributive verb]]
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* [[Form classes (language)]]
== See also ==
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* [[Noun adjunct]]
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* [[Post-positive adjective]]
 
* [[Proper adjective]]
 
* [[Proper adjective]]
* [[Grammar]]
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{{lexical categories|state=collapsed}}
* [[List of non-standard English adjectives]]
 
 
   
 
==Bibliography==
 
==Bibliography==
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<references/>
* Dixon, R. M. W. (1977). Where have all the adjectives gone? ''Studies in Language'', ''1'', 19-80.
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* Dixon, R. M. W. (1977). Where have all the adjectives gone? ''Studies in Language'', ''1'', 19–80.
* Dixon, R. M. W. (1994). Adjectives. In R. E. Asher (Ed.), ''The Encyclopedia of language and linguistics'' (pp. 29-35). Oxford: Pergamon Press. ISBN 0-08-035943-4. (Republished as Dixon 1999).
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* {{cite book |last=Dixon |first=R. M. W. |coauthors=R. E. Asher (Editor) |title=The Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics |publisher=Pergamon Press Inc |edition=1st |date=1993 |pages=29–35 |isbn= 0080359434}}
* Dixon, R. M. W. (1999). Adjectives. In K. Brown & T. Miller (Eds.), ''Concise encyclopedia of grammatical categories'' (pp. 1-8). Amsterdam: Elsevier. ISBN 0-08-043164-X.
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* Dixon, R. M. W. (1999). Adjectives. In K. Brown & T. Miller (Eds.), ''Concise encyclopedia of grammatical categories'' (pp.&nbsp;1–8). Amsterdam: Elsevier. ISBN 0-08-043164-X.
 
* Warren, Beatrice. (1984). ''Classifying adjectives''. Gothenburg studies in English (No. 56). Göteborg: Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis. ISBN 91-7346-133-4.
 
* Warren, Beatrice. (1984). ''Classifying adjectives''. Gothenburg studies in English (No. 56). Göteborg: Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis. ISBN 91-7346-133-4.
* Wierzbicka, Anna. (1986). What's in a noun? (or: How do nouns differ in meaning from adjectives?). ''Studies in Language'', ''10'', 353-389.
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* Wierzbicka, Anna. (1986). What's in a noun? (or: How do nouns differ in meaning from adjectives?). ''Studies in Language'', ''10'', 353–389.
   
 
==External links==
 
==External links==
*[http://www-users.cs.york.ac.uk/~susan/cyc/a/adj.htm Adjective order in English]
 
 
*[http://www.ego4u.com/en/cram-up/grammar/adjectives-adverbs Adjectives and Adverbs]
 
*[http://www.ego4u.com/en/cram-up/grammar/adjectives-adverbs Adjectives and Adverbs]
 
*[http://www.uottawa.ca/academic/arts/writcent/hypergrammar/adjectve.html Adjective article on HyperGrammar]
 
*[http://www.uottawa.ca/academic/arts/writcent/hypergrammar/adjectve.html Adjective article on HyperGrammar]
 
*[http://www.d.umn.edu/~rave0029/research/adjectives1.txt Pratheep Raveendrabathan - List of Adjectives]
 
*[http://www.d.umn.edu/~rave0029/research/adjectives1.txt Pratheep Raveendrabathan - List of Adjectives]
*[http://www.learnenglish.de/Level1/commonadjectives.htm Learn English - Categorized Adjective Listings]
 
 
*[http://academic.gallaudet.edu/handbooks/writers.nsf/eb87244793e2d3088525660c006be817/5e937432647654bb8525688c004ed14d?OpenDocument Gallaudet Writer's Handbook - Adjective Order]
 
*[http://academic.gallaudet.edu/handbooks/writers.nsf/eb87244793e2d3088525660c006be817/5e937432647654bb8525688c004ed14d?OpenDocument Gallaudet Writer's Handbook - Adjective Order]
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*[http://www.brighthub.com/education/languages/articles/22197.aspx Adjectives - The Qualifiers that Add Emphasis to Your Words]
   
 
[[Category:Parts of speech]]
 
[[Category:Parts of speech]]
[[Form classes(language)]]
 
   
 
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[[fy:Eigenskipswurd]]
 
[[gd:Buadhair]]
 
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[[gl:Adxectivo]]
 
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[[it:Aggettivo]]
 
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[[he:תואר השם]]
 
[[kk:Сын есім]]
 
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[[la:Adiectivum]]
 
[[lv:Īpašības vārds]]
 
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[[lt:Būdvardis]]
 
[[lt:Būdvardis]]
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[[li:Adjectief]]
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[[ln:Likonzámí]]
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[[hu:Melléknév]]
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[[mk:Придавка]]
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[[ml:നാമവിശേഷണം]]
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[[ms:Kata sifat]]
 
[[nl:Bijvoeglijk naamwoord]]
 
[[nl:Bijvoeglijk naamwoord]]
 
[[ja:形容詞]]
 
[[ja:形容詞]]
 
[[no:Adjektiv]]
 
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[[nn:Adjektiv]]
 
[[nn:Adjektiv]]
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[[tpi:Ajetiv bilong nambawan kain]]
 
[[nds:Adjektiv]]
 
[[nds:Adjektiv]]
 
[[pl:Przymiotnik]]
 
[[pl:Przymiotnik]]
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[[pnt:Επίθετον]]
 
[[pt:Adjetivo]]
 
[[pt:Adjetivo]]
 
[[ro:Adjectiv]]
 
[[ro:Adjectiv]]
 
[[qu:Rikch'ayrimana]]
 
[[qu:Rikch'ayrimana]]
 
[[ru:Имя прилагательное]]
 
[[ru:Имя прилагательное]]
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[[sah:Даҕааһын аат]]
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[[sq:Mbiemri]]
 
[[scn:Aggittivi]]
 
[[scn:Aggittivi]]
 
[[simple:Adjective]]
 
[[simple:Adjective]]
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[[sk:Prídavné meno]]
 
[[sr:Придеви]]
 
[[sr:Придеви]]
 
[[sh:Pridjev]]
 
[[sh:Pridjev]]
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  • The quick, brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
  • That's an interesting idea. (Attributive.)
  • That idea is interesting. (Predicative.)
  • Tell me something interesting. (Post-positive.)}}

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Wiktionary: adjective

In grammar, an adjective is a word whose main syntactic role is to modify a noun or pronoun, giving more information about the noun or pronoun's referent. Collectively, adjectives form one of the traditional English eight parts of speech, though linguists today distinguish adjectives from words such as determiners that also used to be considered adjectives.

Not all languages have adjectives, but most, including English, do. (English adjectives include big, old, and tired, among many others.) Those that do not, typically use words of another part of speech, often verbs, to serve the same semantic function; for example, such a language might have a verb that means "to be big", and would use a construction analogous to "big-being house" to express what English expresses as "big house". Even in languages that do have adjectives, one language's adjective might not be another's; for example, while English uses "to be hungry" (hungry being an adjective), French uses "avoir faim" (literally "to have hunger"), and where Hebrew uses the adjective "זקוק" (zaqūq, roughly "in need of"), English uses the verb "to need".

In most languages with adjectives, they form an open class of words; that is, it is relatively common for new adjectives to be formed via such processes as derivation.

Adjectives and adverbsEdit

Many languages, including English, distinguish between adjectives, which modify nouns and pronouns, and adverbs, which modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. Not all languages have exactly this distinction, however, and in many languages (including English) there are words that can function as both. For example, in English fast is an adjective in "a fast car" (where it modifies the noun car), but an adverb in "he drove fast" (where it modifies the verb drove).

DeterminersEdit

Main article: Determiner (class)

Linguists today distinguish determiners from adjectives, considering them to be two separate parts of speech (or lexical categories), but traditionally, determiners were considered adjectives in some of their uses. (In English dictionaries, which typically still do not treat determiners as their own part of speech, determiners are often recognizable by being listed both as adjectives and as pronouns.) Determiners are words that express the reference of a noun in the context, generally indicating definiteness (as in a vs. the), quantity (as in one vs. some vs. many), or another such property.

<span id="Attributive adjective" /><span id="Predicative adjective" /><span id="Absolute adjective" /><span id="Substantive adjective" />

FormEdit

A given occurrence of an adjective can generally be classified into one of four kinds of uses:

  • Attributive adjectives are part of the noun phrase headed by the noun they modify; for example, happy is an attributive adjective in "happy people". In some languages, attributive adjectives precede their nouns; in others, they follow their nouns; and in yet others, it depends on the adjective, or on the exact relationship of the adjective to the noun. In English, attributive adjectives usually precede their nouns in simple phrases, but often follow their nouns when the adjective is modified or qualified by a phrase acting as an adverb. For example: "I saw three happy kids", and "I saw three kids happy enough to jump up and down with glee." See also Post-positive adjective.
  • Predicative adjectives are linked via a copula or other linking mechanism to the noun or pronoun they modify; for example, happy is a predicate adjective in "they are happy" and in "that made me happy." (See also: Predicative (adjectival or nominal), Subject complement.)
  • Absolute adjectives do not belong to a larger construction (aside from a larger adjective phrase), and typically modify either the subject of a sentence or whatever noun or pronoun they are closest to; for example, happy is an absolute adjective in "The boy, happy with his lollipop, did not look where he was going."
  • Substantive adjectives act almost as nouns. One way this can happen is if a noun is elided and an attributive adjective is left behind. In the sentence, "I read two books to them; he preferred the sad book, but she preferred the happy", happy is a substantive adjective, short for "happy one" or "happy book". Another way this can happen 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 functions either as a mass noun (as in the preceding example) or as a plural count noun, as in "The meek shall inherit the Earth", where "the meek" means "those who are meek" or "all who are meek".

Adjectival phrasesEdit

Main article: Adjectival phrase

An adjective acts as the head of an adjectival phrase. In the simplest case, an adjectival phrase consists solely of the adjective; more complex adjectival 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"). In English, attributive adjectival phrases that include complements typically follow their subject ("an evildoer devoid of redeeming qualities").

Other noun modifiersEdit

In many languages, including English, it is possible for nouns to modify other nouns. Unlike adjectives, nouns acting as modifiers (called attributive nouns or noun adjuncts) are not predicative; a beautiful park is beautiful, but a car park is not "car". In English, the modifier often indicates origin ("Virginia reel"), purpose ("work clothes"), or semantic patient ("man eater"). However, it can generally indicate almost any semantic relationship. It is also common for adjectives to be derived from nouns, as in English boyish, birdlike, behavioral, famous, manly, angelic, and so on.

Many languages have special verbal forms called participles that can act as noun modifiers. In some languages, including English, there is a strong tendency for participles to evolve into adjectives. English examples of this 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 sentences such as "Ten dollars per hour is the going rate").

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

In relation, many nouns take complements such as content clauses (as in English "the idea that I would do that"); these are not commonly considered modifiers, however.

Adjective orderEdit

In many languages, attributive adjectives usually occur in a specific order. Generally, the adjective order in English is;[1]

  1. article or pronouns used as adjectives
  2. intensifier
  3. quality
  4. size
  5. age
  6. color
  7. participle
  8. proper adjective
  9. noun used as adjectives
  10. headnoun

So, in English, adjectives pertaining to size precede adjectives pertaining to age ("little old", not "old little"), which in turn generally precede adjectives pertaining to color ("old white", not "white old"). So, we would say "A nice (opinion) little (size) old (age) white (color) brick (material) house". However, some native speakers will say, "a big, ugly desk" (size, opinion) instead of "an ugly, big desk" (opinion, size), for example.

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 to shift the emphasis.

Comparison of adjectivesEdit

Main article: Comparison (grammar)

In many languages, adjectives can be compared. In English, for example, we can say that a car is big, that it is bigger than another is, or that it is the biggest car of all. Not all adjectives lend themselves to comparison, however; for example, the English adjective extinct is not considered comparable, in that it does not make sense to describe one species as "more extinct" than another. However, even most non-comparable English adjectives are still sometimes compared; for example, 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. This is not a comparison of the degree of intensity of the adjective, but rather the degree to which the object fits the adjective's definition.

Comparable adjectives are also known as "gradable" adjectives, because they tend to allow grading adverbs such as very, rather, and so on.

Among languages that allow adjectives to be compared in this way, different approaches are used. Indeed, even within English, two different approaches are used: the suffixes -er and -est, and the words more and most. (In English, the general tendency is for shorter adjectives and adjectives from Anglo-Saxon to use -er and -est, and for longer adjectives and adjectives from French, Latin, Greek, and other languages to use more and most.) By either approach, English adjectives therefore have positive forms (big), comparative forms (bigger), and superlative forms (biggest). However, many other languages do not distinguish comparative from superlative forms.

RestrictivenessEdit

Main article: Restrictiveness

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

See alsoEdit

Template:Lexical categories

BibliographyEdit

  1. University of York, Adjective order in English
  • Dixon, R. M. W. (1977). Where have all the adjectives gone? Studies in Language, 1, 19–80.
  • Dixon, R. M. W.; R. E. Asher (Editor) (1993). The Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, 1st, 29–35, Pergamon Press Inc.
  • Dixon, R. M. W. (1999). Adjectives. In K. Brown & T. Miller (Eds.), Concise encyclopedia of grammatical categories (pp. 1–8). Amsterdam: Elsevier. ISBN 0-08-043164-X.
  • Warren, Beatrice. (1984). Classifying adjectives. Gothenburg studies in English (No. 56). Göteborg: Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis. ISBN 91-7346-133-4.
  • Wierzbicka, Anna. (1986). What's in a noun? (or: How do nouns differ in meaning from adjectives?). Studies in Language, 10, 353–389.

External linksEdit

{{enWP|Adjective)

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