What is an adjective? Lesson 16

Theme for this lesson: Global Goal 16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions



What is an adjective?

Adjectives are called describing words.   They describe the qualities  of people, things or places.   They provide information about a noun or a noun phrase.  For example: an old film.   Adjectives are a necessary requirement when telling a story.   A story needs adjectives to provide necessary words in the narrative which are descriptive.   Example: John Smith’s provocative, violent and compelling thriller.  I could simply say: John Smith’s thriller.  But in this case it would leave out the fact that the thriller is provocative or violent or compelling.   I need those words in the sentence to give important information about the thriller.


Adjectives are often related to nouns and verbs:

adjective: beautiful, noun: beauty  /  adjective: dangerous, noun: danger  / adjective: drinkable: verb: drink  /  adjective: talkative, verb: talk


A lot of adjectives end with a suffix:

ate / ent / ous / ant / al / able / an / ory / y / ive / ing / ed / ar / less / ful / ic


Impeccable / paternal / immaculate / intelligent / truthful / communist / impressive / useless /  obligatory / winsome / misty / actual / physical / special / confused / excited / surprised / basic / sympathetic / ancient / convenient / excellent / urgent / enjoyable / fashionable / possible / sensible / amusing / disappointing / surprising / active / attractive / expensive / sensitive / angry / funny / guilty / hungry / American / Christian / Russian / human / anxious / serious / various / familiar / popular / regular / similar / beautiful / careful / grateful / skilful / careless / harmless /

However most common adjectives have no special ending.  They can usually be paired with adjectives of opposite meaning.  For example:

good – bad / large – small / old – young / old – new / long – short / rich – poor / hot – cold / black – white / hard – soft / hard – easy


Comparative and superlative forms: 

Some adjectives end in er and others end in est:

To make the adjective comparative add er:  I’m older than you imagine

To make the adjective superlative add est:  Which city is the coldest in the United States?

comparatives: better, larger, more famous, more fortunate

superlatives: best, largest, most famous, most fortunate


Where do adjectives come in a sentence?

Adjectives come before a noun (modifier of the noun and also called an attributive adjective)

Subject + adjective + noun:

a young woman / this narrow road / an old town / the early train / our national sport / a tall young woman / a beautiful old town

Adjectives also come after a noun or pronoun and verb (here the adjective is called the complement.  It is also called a predicative adjective).  It describes a quality of the subject

For example after the verb to be or any linking verb.  Here the adjective describes a quality of the subject by using the verb to qualify it:

subject + verb + adjective:

the road is narrow / the train will be late / your ideas are interesting / it has been sunny (today) / this chair looks comfortable / the weather will stay fine / fresh bread is becoming expensive

Order of adjectives:

We can have more than two adjectives in a series before a noun.   In a sentence you could have adjectives which are related to categories such as: feeling / size / age / colour / defining.  For example:

Here is the order for more than one adjective but it is not a fixed order: feeling: beautiful / size: tall, little / age: old, young / colour: green / defining: Indian, medical

For  example: a young, Indian medical worker (age + defining + defining)

a fine old Spanish wine (feeling + age + defining)


Lesson 16

Vocabulary for the lesson:

global.………..this refers to the whole world (adjective)

vulnerable..this is when a person is more likely to be attacked verbally or physically or easily influenced (adjective)

forced………..something which is done against a person’s wishes (adjective)

actual………..relates to a fact.  Something which is a fact or real.  Something that exists as a fact (adjective)

frequent……it happens a lot (adjective)



Meeting a friend and having a cup of coffee


Please read one or two paragraphs of this story:

Story about Raymond Van Neste’s fundraising event for refugees on 17th June 2020.

(adjectives are highlighted in blue):

In the last two lessons on this blog I described how I had met a friend whose name is John.  John works for a global research organisation which does a lot of research about different economies around the world.   He told me that his latest research project looked at such things as a high rate of crime and injustice as well as corruption in many countries around the world.

I told John that recently I had created a fundraising campaign to help refugees (see: Events Page on this blog).   Refugees are the most vulnerable  people on the planet and have to endure such things as forced displacement because of violence, war and injustice.   The campaign was to create an event where I did one hundred one arm press ups within three minutes.   The purpose of the campaign was to raise awareness of the plight of refugees around the world.  From February 2020 until the actual event I trained regularly to be fit enough to do the event and fulfil the personal challenge of doing the press up within the three minute time period.

I told John that one of the reasons for my campaign to help refugees was because of their vulnerability to injustice, violence and poverty.  I mentioned that Global goal 16 is a goal to achieve peace and work towards justice and strong institutions.   I asked John about his research and he told me that if there is a high rate of violence in terms of homicide, injustice and corruption then positive change becomes difficult.  People cannot be productive or thrive when these kind of circumstances are prevalent.

Where there is unnecessary suffering within a society it means that families and children become victims.   It also means that children’s mental capacity for growth both mentally and physically is stunted and damaged.   Where there is violence, war, corruption and lack of inclusion not only are families and children the victims but this ultimately means that the economy will not be productive.   Also, one of the main points about Global Goal 16 is that if a country is to achieve this goal it needs to have societies within it which are based on a new and better way of looking at things.

After our meeting John told me that he was in a hurry because he had to catch the bus to get to his home.  The busses are not very frequent and if he missed it he would have to wait for the next bus to come along.


Raymond Van Neste’s fundraising event for the UN Refugee Agency in the UK.  17 June 2020



Campaigning for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (goal 16)


Final Task

After reading the story look in your dictionary and see if you can find some of your own adjectives.  Or, in your dictionary see if you can find some adjectives which might remind you about the story (above) about: Global Goal 16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.   Look for adjectives which describe nouns (this is where an adjective comes before the noun).  For example: a good person / a bad person / a fast car / a big house / a small house / unnecessary suffering / actual event


End of lesson


Next lesson: 

Next on this blog: Adverbs, will be analysed.  This will enable students to have a solid grasp of adverbs before proceeding with further lessons on this blog.


Useful links:

Global Goal 16 – Global Goal 16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Global Goal 16 – Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions: why they matter

Facebook: English Grammar and Skills (live) 

Information about the United Nations

What are the Sustainable Development Goals?


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