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Adjectives

grammar

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DOCUMENTE SIMILARE

Trimite pe Messenger
PLANNING THE LAYOUT OF YOUR COMPOSITION
PRESENT PERFECT TENSE
THE SUBJUNCTIVE: USES OF THE SYNTHETIC SUBJUNCTIVE
WRITING TECHNIQUES
Other information structures - Putting something first: fronting
Grammar: -Ing forms: Participle/Gerund/Verbal Noun
The Adjective
ARTICOLELE A/AN SI THE
Pronunciation guide
THE MODAL VERBS

TERMENI importanti pentru acest document

Describing things: adjectives

2 When you want to give more information about something than you can give by using a noun alone, you can use an adjective to identify it or describe it in more detail.

a new idea.

new ideas.

new creative ideas.

Ideas are important.

to suggest that new ideas are useful.

main points about adjectives 3 The most important things to notice about an English adjective are

what structure it is in (e.g. before a noun or after a link verb)

what type of adjective it is (e.g. qualitative or classifying).

WARNING 4 The form of an adjective does not change: you use the same form for singular and plural and for subject and object.

We were looking for a good place to camp.

The next good place was forty-five miles further on.

Good places to fish were hard to find.

We found hardly any good places.

structure 5 Adjectives are nearly always used in connection with a noun or pronoun to give information about the person, thing, of group referred to. When this information is not the main purpose of a statement, adjectives are placed in front of a noun, as in 'hot coffee'. Adjectives which are used in a noun group are said to be used attributively.

The use of adjectives in a noun group is explained in paragraphs 19 to 20.

6 Sometimes, however, the main purpose of a statement is to give the information expressed by an adjective. When this happens, adjectives are placed after a link verb such as 'be' or 'become', as in 'I am cold' and 'He became ill'. Adjectives which are used after a link verb are said to be used predicatively. They are called the complement of the link verb. The subject can be any noun group, including pronouns.

The use of adjectives as complements of a link verb is explained in paragraphs 3.127 to 3.138.

types of adjective 7 There is a large group of adjectives which identify qualities which someone or something has. This group includes words such as 'happy' and 'intelligent'. These are called qualitative adjectives.

Qualitative adjectives are explained in paragraphs 24 to 28.

8 There is another large group of adjectives which identify someone or something as a member of a class. This group includes words such as 'financial' and 'intellectual'. These are called classifying adjectives.

Classifying adjectives are explained in paragraphs 29 to 3

Some adjectives can be both qualitative and classifying. These are explained in paragraph 33.

9 There is a small group of adjectives which identify the colour of something. This group includes words like 'blue' and 'green'. They are called colour adjectives.

Colour adjectives are explained in paragraphs 34 to 39.

10 Another small group of adjectives are used to emphasize your feelings about the person or thing you are talking about. These adjectives are called emphasizing adjectives, and they include adjectives such as 'complete', 'absolute', and 'utter'.

Emphasizing adjectives are explained in paragraph 40 to 43.

11 There is a small group of adjectives which are used in a very similar way to determiners (see paragraphs 1.161 to 1.236) to make the reference more precise.

These are called postdeterminers because their place in a noun group is immediately after the determiner, if there is one, and before any other adjectives.

Postdeterminers are explained in paragraph 44.

12 Most adjectives can be used in attributive and predicative structures. However, there are some which can be used only in one or the other. This is explained in paragraphs 45 to 57.

13 There are a small number of adjectives that can be used after the noun rather than attributively or predicatively. They are explained in paragraphs 62 to 66.

14 When two or more adjectives are used in a structure, they usually occur in a particular order. This is explained in paragraphs 58 to 61.

15 There are a large number of English adjectives ending in '-ing', many of which are related to the present participle of a verb. In this grammar they are called '-ing' adjectives.

There are also a large number of English adjectives ending in '-ed', many of which are related to the past participle of a verb. In this grammar they are called '-ed' adjectives.

'-ing' adjectives are explained in paragraphs 67 to 80. '-ed' adjectives are explained in paragraphs 81 to 97.

16 Compound adjectives are made up of two or more words, usually written with hyphens between them.

Compound adjectives are explained in paragraphs 98 to 107.

17 When you want to indicate the amount of a quality that something or someone has, you can use comparative and superlative adjectives. There are also some other ways of comparing things.

Comparatives are explained in paragraphs 103 to 116, and superlatives are explained in paragraphs 117 to 127. Other ways of comparing things are explained in paragraphs 128 to 144.

18 You can also indicate the amount of a quality that something or someone has by using a submodifier with an adjective. You can also use some submodifiers with some comparatives and superlatives.

Submodifiers are explained in paragraphs 145 to 173.

Information focusing: adjective structures

19 Adjectives are used in two main structures. One of them involves adjectives modifying a noun group. If you say 'Julia was carrying a battered old suitcase', your main purpose is to say that Julia was carrying a suitcase. The adjectives 'battered' and 'old' give more information about what kind of suitcase it was.

He had a beautiful smile.

a technical term.

a pretty little star-shaped flower bed.

20 Most adjectives can be used to modify nouns. This is called the attributive position.

21 The other main structure involves adjectives being used as complements after link verbs. Placing an adjective after a link verb has the effect of focusing attention on the adjective. If you say 'The suitcase she was carrying was old and battered', your main purpose is to describe the suitcase, so the focus is on the adjectives 'old' and battered'.

David is dead.

The house was quiet.

He became angry.

I feel cold.

Nobody seemed amused.

The use of adjectives as complements of link verbs is explained in paragraphs 3.133 to 3.138.

predicative position 22 Most adjectives can be used as complements after link verbs. This is called the predicative position.

attributive and predicative positrons 23 In the following examples, the first example in each pair shows an adjective being used attributively, while the second example shows it being used predicatively.

There was no clear evidence.

'That's very clear,' I said.

It had been a pleasant evening.

It's not a big stream, but it's very pleasant.

She bought a loaf of white bread.

The walls were white.

Identifying qualities: qualitative adjectives

24 There are two main types of adjective, qualitative and classifying. Adjectives that identify a quality that someone or something has, such as 'sad', 'pretty, 'small', 'happy', 'health', 'wealthy', and 'wise', are called qualitative adjectives.

a sad story.

a pretty girl.

a small child.

a happy mother with a healthy baby.

wealthy bankers.

I think it would be wise to give up.

gradability 25 Qualitative adjectives are gradable, which means that the person or thing referred to can have more or less of the quality mentioned.

26 The usual way in which you can indicate the amount of a quality that something or someone has is by using submodifiers such as 'very' and 'rather' in front of qualitative adjectives. This is explained in paragraphs 145 to 161.

27 The other way in which you can indicate the amount of a quality that something or someone has is by using a comparative, such as 'bigger', and 'more interesting', or a superlative, such as 'the biggest', and 'the most interesting'. Comparatives and superlatives are explained in paragraphs 108 to 127.

28 Here is a list of qualitative adjectives:

active

angry

anxious

appropriate

attractive

bad

beautiful

big

brief

bright

broad

busy

calm

careful

cheap

clean

clear

close

cold

comfortable

common

complex

cool

curious

dangerous

dark

dear

deep

determined

different

difficult

dirty

dry

easy

effective

efficient

expensive

fair

familiar

famous

fast

fat

fine

firm

flat

frank

free

fresh

friendly

frightened

funny

good

great

happy

hard

heavy

high

hot

important

interesting

kind

large

late

light

likely

long

loose

loud

lovely

low

lucky

narrow

nervous

new

nice

obvious

odd

old

pale

patient

plain

pleasant

poor

popular

powerful

pretty

proud

quick

quiet

rare

reasonable

rich

rough

sad

safe

sensible

serious

sharp

shocked

short

sick

significant

silly

simple

slow

small

soft

special

steady

strange

strong

stupid

successful

suitable

sure

surprised

sweet

tall

terrible

thick

thin

tight

tiny

tired

typical

understanding

useful

violent

warm

weak

wet

wide

wild

worried

young

Identifying the class that something belongs to: classifying adjectives

29 The other main type of adjective consists of adjectives that you use to identify the particular class that something belongs to. For example, if you say 'financial help', you are using the adjective 'financial' to classify the noun 'help'. There are many different kinds of help, 'financial help' is one of them. Adjectives which are used in this way are called classifying adjectives.

financial help.

abdominal pains.

a medieval manuscript.

my daily shower.

an equal partnership.

a sufficient amount of milk.

Note that noun modifiers (see paragraphs 174 to 179) are used in a similar way to classifying adjectives. For example, 'financial matters' and 'money matters' are similar in both structure and meaning.

30 Here is a list of classifying adjectives:

absolute

active

actual

agricultural

alternative

annual

apparent

available

basic

central

chemical

civil

commercial

communist

conservative

cultural

daily

democratic

direct

domestic

double

due

east

eastern

economic

educational

electric

empty

external

female

financial

foreign

free

full

general

golden

historical

human

ideal

independent

industrial inevitable intellectual

internal

international

legal

local

magic

male

medical

mental

military

modern

moral

national

natural

negative

north

northern

nuclear

official

open

original

personal

physical

political

positive

possible

potential

private

professional

proper

public

raw

ready

real

religious

revolutionary

right

royal

rural

scientific

separate

sexual

single

social

solid

sooth

southern

standard

straight

sufficient

theoretical

traditional

urban

west

western

wooden

wrong

31 Adjectives such as 'British', 'American', and 'Australian', which indicate nationality or origin, are also classifying adjectives. They start with a capital letter because they are related to names of countries.

American citizens.

Some classifying adjectives are formed from people's names, for example 'Victorian' and 'Shakespearian'. They also start with a capital letter.

Victorian houses.

32 Because they place something in a class, classifying adjectives are not gradable in the way that qualitative adjectives are. Things are either in a particular class or not in it. Therefore, classifying adjectives do not have comparatives and superlatives and are not normally used with submodifiers such as 'very' and 'rather'.

However, when you want to indicate that you feel strongly about what you are saying, you can use a submodifier such as 'absolutely' with a classifying adjective. This is explained in paragraphs 152 to 153.

adjectives which are of both types 33 Some adjectives can be either qualitative or classifying depending on the meaning that you want to convey. For example, in 'an emotional person', 'emotional' is a qualitative adjective meaning 'feeing or expressing strong emotions'; it has a comparative and superlative and it can be used with submodifiers. Thus, a person can be 'very emotional', 'rather emotional', or 'more emotional' than someone else. However, in 'the emotional needs of children', 'emotional' is a classifying adjective meaning 'relating to a person's emotions', and so it cannot be submodified.

Here is a list of adjectives frequently used both as qualitative adjectives and as classifying adjectives:

academic

conscious

dry

educational

effective

emotional

extreme

late

modern

moral

objective

ordinary

regular

religious

revolutionary

rural

scientific

secret

similar

Identifying colours: colour adjectives

34 When you want to say what colour something is, you use a colour adjective.

her blue eyes.

a red ribbon.

Here is a list of the main colour adjectives:

black

blue

brown

cream

green

grey

orange

pink

purple

red

scarlet

violet

white

yellow

35 If you want to specify a colour more precisely, you can use a submodifier, such as 'light', 'pale', 'dark', 'deep', or 'bright', in front of a colour adjective.

light brown hair.

a pale green suit.

a dark blue dress.

deep red dye.

her bright blue eyes.

These combinations are sometimes hyphenated.

a light-blue suit.

her tight, pale-green felt cape.

Note, that submodifiers such as 'light' and 'dark' are not used to submodify the colours 'black' and 'white', because you cannot have different shades of black and white.

36 If you want to talk about a colour which does not have a definite name you can

use a colour adjective with '-ish' added to the end

greenish glass.

permed yellowish hair.

combine two colour adjectives, often with '-ish' or '-y' on the end of the first one

greenish-white flowers.

a greeny blue line.

the blue-green waves.

37 You can mix colours in these ways to produce whatever new colour you are trying to describe. This is a productive feature of English.

Productive features are explained in the Introduction.

comparison of colour adjectives 38 Colour adjectives such as 'blue' and 'green' occasionally have comparatives and superlatives ending in '-er' and '-est'.

His face was redder than usual.

some of the greenest scenery in America.

Comparatives and superlatives are explained in paragraphs 106 to 127.

colour nouns 39 The colours can also be headwords, and the main colours can also be plural headwords.

The snow shadows had turned to a deep blue.

They blended in so well with the khaki and reds of the landscape.

brilliantly coloured in reds, yellows, blacks, and purples.

Showing strong feelings: emphasizing adjectives

40 You can emphasize your feelings about something that you mention by putting an adjective such as 'complete', 'absolute', and 'utter' in front of a noun.

He made me feel like a complete idiot.

Some of it was absolute rubbish.

utter despair.

pure bliss.

You generally use an adjective of this kind only when the noun indicates your opinion about something.

Because they are used to show strong feelings, these adjectives are called emphasizing adjectives.

Here is a list of emphasizing adjectives:

absolute

complete

entire

outright

perfect

positive

pure

real

total

true

other

emphasizing disapproval 41 A small group of adjectives ending in '-ing' are used in very informal spoken English for emphasis, usually to indicate disapproval or contempt.

Everybody in the whole stinking town was loaded with money.

The flaming car's locked.

Here is a list of adjectives used informally for emphasis:

blinking

blithering

blooming

blundering

crashing

flaming

freezing

piddling

raving

scalding

stinking

thumping

thundering

whopping

WARNING 42 Many of these adjectives are usually used with one particular noun or adjective after them: 'blithering idiot', 'crushing bore', 'raving lunatic', 'thundering nuisance', 'freezing cold', 'scalding hot', 'piddling little', 'thumping great', 'whopping great'.

He'll either die or become a raving lunatic.

Nobody must get in here and make a thundering nuisance of themselves.

piddling little cars like yours.

43 The word 'very', which is normally a submodifier, is sometimes used to emphasize a noun, in expressions like 'the very top' and 'the very end'.

at the very end of the shop.

the very bottom of the hill.

These molecules could have formed in the seas of the earth at the very beginning of its history.

Making the reference more precise: postdeterminers

44 There is a small group of adjectives which are used in a very similar way to determiners (see paragraphs 1.161 to 1.236) to make the reference more precise. These are called postdeterminers, because their place in a noun group is immediately after the determiner, if there is one, and before any other adjectives.

the following brief description.

certain basic human qualities.

improvements in the last few years.

further technological advance.

He wore his usual old white coat.

the only genuine Russian prince he ever met.

You often need to make it clear precisely what you are referring to. For example, if you say 'Turn left at the tall building' someone might ask which tall building you mean. If you say 'Turn left at the next tall building', there can be no doubt which one you mean. The postdeterminer 'next' picks it out precisely.

Here is a list of adjectives which are postdeterminers:

additional

certain

chief

entire

existing

first

following

further

last

main

next

only

opposite

other

particular

past

present

previous

principal

remaining

same

specific

usual

Some of these adjectives can also be ordinary classifying adjectives.

He had children from a previous marriage.

There are two main reasons for this.

Here is a list of postdeterminers which can also be classifying adjectives:

additional

chief

existing

further

main

other

particular

past

previous

principal

remaining

specific

Adjectives which are used to indicate the position of something are also used for precise reference.

the middle duff on of her black leather coat.

the top 100 British companies.

Here is a list of adjectives sometimes used to indicate the position of something as well as for precise reference:

left

right

upper

lower

lop

bottom

middle

end

front

back

Postdeterminers can also be used with numbers. This is explained in paragraph 236.

Special classes of adjectives

45 Most adjectives can be used both attributively and predicatively but there are some which can only be used in one position or the other.

There are a few adjectives which are always or almost always used in from of a noun and are never or rarely used as the complement of a link verb. These adjectives are called attributive adjectives.

Examples are 'atomic' and 'outdoor'. You can talk about 'an atomic explosion', but you do not say, 'The explosion was atomic'. You can talk about 'outdoor pursuits', but you do not say 'Their pursuits are outdoor'.

attributive adjectives 46 A few qualitative adjectives (see paragraphs 24 to 28) are only used attributively. Here is a list of qualitative adjectives always used attributively:

adoring

belated

chequered

choked

commanding

fateful

flagrant

fleeting

knotty

paltry

punishing

ramshackle

scant

searing

thankless

unenviable

Most adjectives which can only be used attributively are classifying adjectives (see paragraphs 29 to 32). Here is a list of classifying adjectives used attributively:

atomic

bridal

cardiac

countless

cubic

digital

east

eastern

eventual

existing

federal

forensic

indoor

institutional

introductory

investigative

judicial

lone

maximum

nationwide

neighbouring

north

northern

occasional

orchestral

outdoor

phonetic

preconceived

remedial

reproductive

smokeless

south

southern

subterranean

supplementary

underlying

west

western

woollen

47 There are no colour adjectives (see paragraphs 34 to 39) which are restricted to the attributive position.

Emphasizing adjectives (see paragraphs 40 to 43) are usually used attributively.

predicative adjectives 48 Some adjectives are normally used only as the complement of a link verb and not in front of a noun. These adjectives are called predicative adjectives.

For example, you can say 'She felt glad', but you do not normally talk about 'a glad woman'.

Here is a list of adjectives usually used predicatively:

afraid

alive

alone

apart

asleep

aware

content

due

glad

ill

likely

ready

safe

sorry

sure

unable

unlikely

well

Note that they do not have to be followed by a prepositional phrase.

49 Because their meaning would otherwise be unclear or incomplete, some adjectives are usually followed by a prepositional phrase. For example, you cannot simply say that someone is 'accustomed'. You have to say that they are 'accustomed to' something.

The following usage note explains which prepositions you use after a particular adjective.

50 There are a few adjectives which are followed by the preposition 'to' when they are used predicatively.

I was allergic to the serum they used.

He was impervious to fact or logic.

Here is a list of adjectives which are usually or always used predicatively and are followed by 'to':

accustomed

adjacent

allergic

attributable

attuned

averse

close

conducive

devoted

impervious

injurious

integral

prone

proportional

proportionate

reconciled

related

resigned

resistant

similar

subject

subservient

susceptible

unaccustomed

51 There are a few adjectives which are followed by the preposition 'of' when they are used predicatively.

He was aware of the danger that faced him.

They seemed capable of winning their first game of the season.

He was devoid of any talent whatsoever.

His mind seemed to have become incapable of any thought.

Here is a list of adjectives which are usually or always used predicatively and are followed by 'of':

aware

bereft

capable

characteristic

desirous

devoid

fond

full

heedless

illustrative

incapable

indicative

mindful

reminiscent

represents

52 There are a few adjectives which are followed by the preposition 'with' when they are used predicatively.

His surprise became tinged with just the smallest suspicion of disbelief.

The plastic has to be compatible with the body tissues that make contact with it.

This way of life is fraught with danger.

Here is a list of adjectives which are usually or always used predicatively and are followed by 'with':

compatible

consonant

conversant

Tilted

fraught

riddled

tinged

53 Some adjectives are followed by other prepositions when they we used predicatively.

These ideas are rooted in self-deception.

Didn't you say the raid was contingent on the weather?

Darwin concluded that people were descended from apes.

Here is a list of adjectives which are usually or always used predicatively and are followed by the preposition indicated:

contingent on

descended from

inherent in

lacking in

rooted in

steeped in

swathed in

unhampered by

In some cases, there is a choice between two prepositions.

Many of their courses are connected with industry.

Such names were arbitrarily given and were not connected to any particular event.

Here is a list of adjectives which are usually or always used predicatively and which can be followed by the prepositions indicated:

answerable for

answerable to

burdened by

burdened with

connected to

connected with

dependent on

dependent upon

immune from

immune to

inclined to

inclined towards

incumbent on

incumbent upon

insensible of

insensible to

intent on

intent upon

parallel to

parallel with

reliant on

reliant with

stricken by

stricken with

54 'Different' is most commonly followed by 'from'. It is also sometimes followed by 'to' or 'than', but some people think this is incorrect.

Students today are different from the students ten years ago.

adjectives followed by 'to'-infinitive clauses 55 To complete the meaning of some adjectives which are used predicatively, you need to follow with a clause beginning with a 'to'-infinitive. For example, you cannot just say 'He is unable'. You have to add a clause beginning with 'to'-infinitive such as 'to do': 'He is unable to do it'. 'To'-infinitive clauses are explained in the Reference Section.

They were unable to help her.

I am willing to try.

We are liable to find ourselves in a mild state of conflict.

I am loath to dwell so long on the poor fellow.

Here is a list of adjectives always or nearly always followed by 'to'-infinitive clauses:

able

bound

doomed

due

fated

fit

inclined

liable

likely

loath

prepared

unable

unwilling

willing

56 You can also use a clause beginning with a 'to'-infinitive after many other adjectives to give more information about something.

I was afraid to go home.

I was happy to see them again.

He was powerless to prevent it.

I was almost ashamed to tell her.

The path was easy to follow.

Note that the subject of the main clause is also the subject of the 'to'-infinitive clause.

57 When adjectives which refer to someone's beliefs or feelings are used predicatively, they are often followed by a 'that'-clause (see paragraphs 7.85 to 7.87). The subject of the 'that'-clause is not always the same as the subject of the main clause, and so you need to specify ft.

She was sure that he meant it.

He was frightened that something terrible might be said.

I'm aware that I reached a rather large audience through the book.

Note that the word 'that' is not always used in a 'that'-clause.

They were sure she had been born in the city.

Here is a list of common adjectives often followed by a 'that'-clause.

afraid

angry

anxious

aware

certain

confident

frightened

glad

happy

pleased

proud

sad

sorry

sure

surprised

unaware

upset

worried

Note that all of these adjectives except 'angry', 'aware', 'unaware', 'upset', and 'worried' can also be followed by a 'to'-infinitive clause.

I was afraid that she might not be able to bear the strain.

Don't be afraid to ask questions.

She was surprised that I know about it.

The twins were very surprised to see Ralph.

Position of adjectives in noun groups

58 When you use more than one adjective in a noun group, the usual order for the adjectives is: qualitative adjectives, followed by colour adjectives, followed by classifying adjectives.

a little white wooden house.

pretty black lacy dresses.

a large circular pool of water.

a beautiful pink suit.

rapid technological advance.

a nice red apple.

the black triangular fin.

This order is nearly always followed in English. Occasionally however, when you wan to focus on a particular characteristic of the person or thing you are describing, you can vary this order, especially when one of the adjectives refers to colour or size.

a square black hole.

Note that you sometimes put a comma or 'and' between adjectives. This is explained in paragraphs 8.168 to 8.174 and paragraph 8.189.

the long, low caravan.

It was a long and tedious business.

59 Comparatives (see paragraphs 108 to 116) and superlatives (see paragraphs 117 to 127) normally come in front of all other adjectives in a noun group.

better parental control.

the highest monthly figures on record.

position of noun modifiers and adjectives 60 When a noun group contains both an adjective and a noun modifier (see paragraphs 174 to 179) the adjective is placed in front of the noun modifier.

the booming European car industry.

the world's biggest and most prestigious book fair.

two or more adjectives as complement 61 When you use two adjectives as the complement of a link verb, you use a conjunction, usually 'and', to link them. If you use more than two adjectives as a complement, you usually put a conjunction between the last two adjectives and commas between the others. This is fully explained in paragraphs 8.168 to 8.174 and paragraph 8.139.

The room was large and square.

We felt hot, tired, and thirsty.

Note that you put the adjectives in the order that you think is the most important.

adjectives after nouns 62 There are a few adjectives which are usually or always used after a noun. Here is a list indicating the different groups of adjectives used after a noun:

designate

elect

galore

incarnate

manque

~

broad

deep

high

long

old

tall

thick

wide

~

concerned

involved

present

proper

responsible

~

affected

available

required

suggested

USAGE NOTE 63 The adjectives 'designate', 'elect', 'galore', 'incarnate', and 'manque' are only used immediately after a noun.

She was now president elect.

There are empty houses galore.

64 The adjectives 'broad', 'deep', 'high', 'long', 'old', 'tall', 'thick', and 'wide' are used immediately after measurement nouns when giving the size, duration, or age of a thing or person. This use is fully explained in paragraph 270.

six feet tall.

three metres wide.

twenty five years old.

65 The adjectives 'concerned', 'involved', 'present', 'responsible', and 'proper' have different meanings depending on whether you put them in front of a noun or immediately after one. For example, 'the concerned mother' describes a mother who is anxious, but 'the mother concerned' simply refers to a mother who has just been mentioned.

the approval of interested and concerned parents.

The idea needs to come from the individuals concerned.

one of those incredibly involved spy switches.

The songs involved are 'That'll Be the Day' and 'In Spite of All the Danger'.

the present international situation.

Of the 18 people present, I know only one.

parents trying to act in a responsible manner.

the person responsible for his death.

a proper training in how to teach.

the first round proper of the FA Cup.

66 The adjectives 'affected', 'available', 'required', and 'suggested' can be used in front of a noun or after a noun without any change in meaning.

Newspapers were the only available source of information.

the number of teachers available.

the required changes.

You're way below the standard required.

the cost of the suggested improvements.

The proposals suggested are derived from successful experiments.

Aside from the affected child, the doctor checks every other member of the household.

the proportion of the population affected.

Special forms: '-ing' adjectives

67 There are a large number of adjectives ending in '-ing'. Most of them are related in form to the present participles of verbs. In this grammar they are called '-ing' adjectives.

He was an amiable, amusing fellow.

He had been up all night attending a dying man.

Adjectives which end in '-ing' are sometimes called participial adjectives. The present participle is explained in the Reference Section.

68 One group of '-ing' adjectives describe the effect that something has on your feelings and ideas, or on the feelings and ideas of people in general.

an alarming increase in racial hostility.

A surprising number of men stay bachelors.

a charming house on the outskirts of the town.

a warm welcoming smile.

69 These adjectives are normally qualitative adjectives. This means that they can be used with a submodifier, and have comparatives and superlatives.

a very convincing example.

There is nothing very surprising in this.

a very exciting idea.

a really pleasing evening at the theatre.

When Bernard moans he's much more convincing.

one of the most boring books I've ever read.

70 They can be used in attributive or predicative position.

They can still show amazing loyalty to their parents.

It's amazing what they can do.

the most terrifying tale ever written.

The present situation is terrifying.

71 These '-ing' adjectives have a related transitive verb which you use to describe the way someone is affected by something. For example, if you speak of 'an alarming increase', you mean that the increase alarms you. If you speak of 'a surprising number', you mean that the number surprises you.

Here is a list of '-ing' adjectives that describe an effect and which have a similar meaning to the usual meaning of the related verb:

alarming

amazing

amusing

annoying

appalling

astonishing

astounding

bewildering

boring

challenging

charming

compelling

confusing

convincing

demeaning

depressing

devastating

disappointing

disgusting

distracting

distressing

distorting

embarrassing

enchanting

encouraging

entertaining

exciting

frightening

harassing

humiliating

infuriating

inspiring

interesting

intimidating

intriguing

menacing

misleading

mocking

overwhelming

pleasing

refreshing

relaxing

rewarding

satisfying

shocking

sickening

startling

surprising

tempting

terrifying

threatening

thrilling

tiring

welcoming

worrying

Transitive verbs are explained in paragraphs 3.15 to 3.26.

describing a process or state 72 The other main group of '-ing' adjectives are used to describe a process or state that continues over a period of time.

dwindling herds of humpback whales.

Oil and gas drillers are doing a booming business.

a life of increasing labour and decreasing leisure.

73 These adjectives are classifying adjectives, so they are not used with ordinary submodifiers such as 'very' and 'rather'. However, adjectives used to identify a process can be submodified by adverbs which describe the speed with which the process happens.

a fast diminishing degree of personal freedom.

rapidly rising productivity.

74 These '-ing' adjectives have related intransitive verbs.

Here is a list of '-ing' adjectives which describe a continuing process or state and which have a similar meaning to the usual meaning of the related verb:

ageing

ailing

bleeding

booming

bursting

decreasing

diminishing

dwindling

dying

existing

increasing

living

prevailing

recurring

reigning

remaining

resounding

rising

ruling

Intransitive verbs are explained in paragraphs 3.9 to 3.14.

75 These '-ing' adjectives are only used attributively, so when '-ing' forms of intransitive verbs appear after the verb 'be' they are actually part of a continuous tense.

76 The '-ing' form of most intransitive English verbs can be used attributively as adjectives to indicate what someone or something is doing.

a walking figure.

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.

He escorted her around the bowing and chanting multitude.

two years of falling employment.

a tremendous noise of crashing glass.

The use of the '-ing' form of verbs as adjectives is a productive feature of English. Productive features are explained in the Introduction.

77 Most of the '-ing' adjectives talked about so far are related to verbs. Sometimes however, '-ing' adjectives are not related to verbs at all. For example, there is no verb 'to neighbour'.

Whole families came from neighbouring villages.

Here is a list of '-ing' adjectives which are not related to verbs:

appetizing

balding

cunning

enterprising

excruciating

impending

neighbouring

scaling

unwitting

78 Sometimes, an '-ing' adjective is related to an uncommon use of a verb, or appears to be related to a verb but is not related exactly to any current use. For example, the verb 'haunt' is most commonly used in connection with ghosts, but the adjective 'haunting' is more often used of things such as songs and memories. A haunting tune is a tune you cannot forget.

Here is a list of qualitative '-ing' adjectives which are not related to a common transitive use of a verb:

becoming

bracing

cutting

dashing

disarming

engaging

fetching

halting

haunting

moving

penetrating

piercing

pressing

promising

rambling

ravishing

retiring

revolting

searching

taxing

trying

Here is a list of classifying '-ing' adjectives which are not related to a common intransitive use of a verb:

acting

driving

floating

gathering

going

leading

missing

running

79 Some adjectives are derived from a verb and a prefix. For example, 'outgoing' is derived from the verb 'go' and the prefix 'out-'. There is no verb 'to outgo'.

Wouldn't that cause a delay in outgoing man?

Here is a list of '-ing' adjectives derived from a verb and a prefix:

forthcoming

incoming

oncoming

ongoing

outgoing

outstanding

overbearing

uplifting

upstanding

80 A small group of '-ing' adjectives are used in informal spoken English for emphasis, usually to express disapproval. This use is explained in paragraphs 41 to 4

Some compound adjectives (see paragraphs 98 to 107) end in '-ing'.

Special forms: '-ed' adjectives

81 A large number of English adjectives end in '-ed'. Many of them have the same form as the past participle of a verb. Others are formed by adding '-ed' to a noun. Others are not closely related to any other words.

a disappointed man.

a bearded man.

sophisticated electronic devices.

82 Adjectives with the same form as irregular past participles (see the Reference Section) which do not end in '-ed' are also included here as '-ed' adjectives.

Was it a broken bone, a torn ligament, or what?

The past participles of some phrasal verbs (see paragraphs 3.04 to 3.117) can also be used as adjectives. When they are used attributively, the two parts of the phrasal verb are usually written with a hyphen between them.

the built-up urban mass of the city.

83 Most '-ed' adjectives are related to a transitive verb and have a passive meaning. They indicate that something has happened or is happening to the thing being described. For example, 'a frightened person' is a person who has been frightened by something. 'A known criminal' is a criminal who is known by the police.

There are least one or two satisfied customers.

We cannot refuse to teach children the required subjects.

qualitative '-ed' adjectives 84 '-ed' adjectives that refer to a person's mental or emotional reaction '-ed' to something are generally qualitative.

He was a worried old man.

a bored old woman.

an interested student.

These adjectives can be submodified by words such as 'very' and 'extremely', just like other qualitative adjectives (see paragraphs 145 to 161).

form and meaning 85 Like other adjectives referring to feelings, these adjectives are often used to describe the expression, voice, or manner of person affected, instead of referring directly to that person.

her big blue frightened eyes.

She could hear his agitated voice.

his lazy walk and bored air.

86 Here is a list of qualitative '-ed' adjectives which have a similar meaning to the most common meaning of the related verb:

agitated

alarmed

amused

appalled

astonished

bored

confused

contented

delighted

depressed

deprived

disappointed

disgusted

disillusioned

distressed

embarrassed

excited

frightened

inhibited

interested

pleased

preoccupied

puzzled

satisfied

shocked

surprised

tired

troubled

worried

Here is a list of qualitative '-ed' adjectives which do not have a similar meaning to the usual meaning of the related verb:

animated

attached

concerned

determined

disposed

disturbed

guarded

hurt

inclined

mixed

strained

87 Many other '-ed' adjectives are used for classifying, and so are not gradable. For example, 'a furnished apartment' is one type of apartment, contrasting with 'an apartment without furniture'.

a furnished apartment.

a painted wooden bowl.

the closed bedroom door.

Most adjectives which refer to physical distinctions are classifying adjectives.

88 Here is a list of classifying '-ed' adjectives which have a similar meaning to the most common meaning of the related verb:

abandoned

armed

blocked

boiled

broken

canned

classified

closed

concentrated

condemned

cooked

divided

drawn

dried

established

fixed

furnished

haunted

hidden

improved

infected

integrated

known

licensed

loaded

paid

painted

processed

reduced

required

torn

trained

united

wasted

Here is list of '-ed' classifying adjectives which have a different meaning from the most common meaning of the related verb:

advanced

marked

noted

pointed

spotted

veiled

89 Classifying '-ed' adjectives cannot normally be submodified with ordinary submodifiers such as 'quite' and 'very'. However, an adverb of manner, (see paragraphs 6.36 to 6.44) or an adverb of degree, (see paragraphs 6.45 to 6.52) is often used before an '-ed' adjective.

For example, 'a pleasantly furnished room' is a room which has been furnished with pleasant furniture.

pleasantly furnished rooms.

a well-known novelist.

90 Some '-ed' adjectives do not make sense on their own, and an adverb is necessary to complete the sense. We do not usually talk about 'dressed people' because people usually wear clothes, but we can say that they are 'well dressed' or 'smartly dressed' for example. The '-ed' adjectives in the following examples nearly always have an adverb in front of them.

a cautiously worded statement.

impeccably dressed men.

strongly motivated students.

It was a richly deserved honour.

superbly cut clothes.

the existence of a highly developed national press.

a large and well equipped army.

a tall, powerfully built man.

perfectly formed people.

Note that combinations like this are sometimes hyphenated, making them compound adjectives.

a well-equipped army.

'-ed' adjectives with an active meaning 91 A few '-ed' adjectives are related to the past participle of intransitive verbs and have an active meaning, not a passive meaning. For example, 'a fallen tree' is a tree which has fallen.

Here and there a fallen tree-trunk spans the narrow gorge.

She is the daughter of a retired army officer.

an escaped prisoner.

Here is a list of '-ed' adjectives with an active meaning:

accumulated

dated

escaped

faded

fallen

retired

swollen

wilted

'-ed' adjectives after link verb 92 Most '-ed' adjectives can be used both in from of a noun and as the complement of a link verb.

The worried authorities decided to play safe.

My husband was worried.

A small number of '-ed' adjectives are normally only used as the complement of a link verb. Often, they are followed by a prepositional phrase, a 'to'-infinitive clause, or a 'that'-clause.

I was thrilled by the exhibition.

The Brazilians are pleased with the results.

food destined for areas of south Sudan.

He was always prepared to account for his actions.

Here is a list of '-ed' adjectives often used as the complement of a link verb, with or without a phrase or clause after them:

convinced

delighted

interested

intimidated

intrigued

involved

pleased

prepared

scared

thrilled

tired

touched

Here is a list of '-ed' adjectives normally used as the complement of a link verb with a phrase or clause after them:

agreed

destined

dressed

finished

lost

prepared

shut

stuck

93 The past participle of almost any transitive verb can be used as an adjective, though some are more commonly used than others. This is a productive feature of English. Productive features are explained in the Introduction.

she said, with a forced smile.

There was one paid tutor and three volunteer tutors.

The recovered animals will be released.

the final corrected version.

94 Some '-ed' adjectives are formed from nouns. For example, if a living thing has wings, you can describe it as 'winged'. If someone has skills, you can describe them as 'skilled'. This is a productive feature of English. Productive features are explained in the Introduction.

figures of winged creatures.

a skilled engineer.

She was dressed in black and carried a black beaded purse.

armoured cars.

the education of gifted children.

95 Here is a list of '-ed' adjectives formed from nouns:

armoured

barbed

beaded

bearded

detailed

flowered

freckled

gifted

gloved

hooded

mannered

pointed

principled

salaried

skilled

spotted

striped

turbaned

walled

winged

'-ed' adjectives formed from nouns are commonly used as the second part of compound adjectives (see paragraph 98 to 107) such as 'grey-haired' and 'open-minded', because we often want to describe the feature that someone or something has.

96 There are also a number of '-ed' adjectives in regular use which are not related to verbs or nouns in the ways described above. For example, there are no words 'parch' or 'belove'. There is a noun 'concert', but the adjective 'concerted' does not mean 'having a concert'.

He climbed up the dry parched grass to the terrace steps.

a rocking horse for a beloved child.

attempt to mount a concerted campaign.

the purchase of expensive sophisticated equipment.

97 Here is a list of '-ed' adjectives not related to verbs or nouns:

antiquated

ashamed

assorted

beloved

bloated

concerted

crazed

deceased

doomed

indebted

parched

rugged

sophisticated

tinned

Compound adjectives

98 Compound adjectives are made up of two or more words usually written with hyphens between them. They may be qualitative, classifying or colour adjectives.

I was in a tight-hearted mood.

Olivia was driving a long, low-slung, bottle-green car.

the built-up urban mass of the city.

an air-conditioned restaurant.

a good-looking girl.

one-way traffic.

a part-time job.

PRODUCTIVE FEATURE 99 The forming of compound adjectives is a productive feature of English. Productive features are explained in the Introduction.

formation patterns 100 These are the most common and least restricted patterns for forming compound adjectives:

adjective or number plus noun plus '-ed', e.g. 'grey-haired' and 'one-sided'

adjective or adverb plus past participle, e.g. 'low-paid' and 'well-behaved'

adjective, adverb, or noun plus present participle, e.g. 'good-looking', 'long-lasting' and 'man-eating'.

101 These are less common and more restricted patterns for forming compound adjectives:

noun plus past participle, e.g. 'tongue-tied' and 'wind-blown'

noun plus adjective, e.g. 'accident-prone', 'trouble-free'

adjective plus noun, e.g. 'deep-sea', 'present-day'

past participle plus adverb, e.g. 'run-down', 'cast-off'

number plus singular count noun, e.g. 'five-page' and 'four-door'.

Note that compound adjectives formed according to the last of these patterns are always used attributively.

compound qualitative adjectives 102 Here is a list of compound qualitative adjectives:

absent-minded

accident-prone

big-headed

clear-cut

close-fitting

cold-blooded

easy-going

far-fetched

far-reaching

good-looking

good-tempered

hard-up

hard-wearing

ill-advised

kind-hearted

labour saving

laid-back

light-hearted long-lasting long-standing

long-suffering

low-cut

low-paid

low-slung

mouth-watering

muddle-headed

narrow-minded

nice-looking

off-hand

off-putting

old-fashioned

one-sided

open-minded

run-down

second-class

second-rate

shop-soiled

short-handed

short-lived

short-sighted

short-tempered

slow-witted

smooth-talking

soft-hearted

starry-eyed

strong-minded

stuck-up

sun-tanned

swollen-headed

tender-hearted thick-skinned

tongue-tied

top-heavy

trouble-free

two-edged

two-faced

warm-hearted

well-balanced

well-behaved

well-dressed

well-known

well-off

wind-blown

worldly-wise

wrong-headed

103 Here is a list of compound classifying adjectives:

air-conditioned

ail-out

all-powerful

audio-visual

blue-blooded

bow-legged

brand-new

breast-fed

broken-down

broken-hearted

built-up

bullet-proof

burnt-out

cast-off

clean-shaven

cross-Channel

cross-country

cut-price

deep-sea

deep-seated

double-barrelled

double-breasted

drip-dry

drive-in

duty-bound

duty-free

empty-handed

face-saving

far-flung

first-class

free-range

free-standing

freeze-dried

front-page

full-blown

full-face

full-grown

full-length

full-scale

gilt-edged

grey-haired

half-price

half-yearly

hand-picked

high-heeled

home-made

ice-cold

interest-free

knee-deep

last-minute

late-night

lead-free

left-handed

life-size

long-distance

long-lost

long-range

loose-leaf

made-up

man-eating

mass-produced

middle-aged

never-ending

north-east

north-west

nuclear-free

odds-on

off-guard

off-peak

one-way

open-ended

open-mouthed

panic-stricken

part-time

present-day purpose-built

ready-made

record-breaking red-brick

remote-controlled

right-angled

right-handed

second-class

second-hand

see-through

silver-plated

single-handed

so-called

so-so

south-east

south-west

strong-arm

tax-free

tone-deaf

top-secret

unheard-of

wide-awake

world-famous

worn-out

year-long

104 Here is a list of compound colour adjectives:

blood-red

blue-black

bottle-green

dove-grey

electric-blue

flesh-coloured

ice-blue

iron-grey

jet-black

lime-green

nut-brown

off-white

pea-green

pearl-grey

royal-blue

shocking-pink

sky-blue

snow-white

105 A few compound adjectives are made up of more than two words. Compounds of three or more words are often written with hyphens when they are used in front of nouns and without hyphens when they are used as the complement of a link verb.

the day-to-day chores of life.

a down-to-earth approach.

a free-and-easy relationship.

life-and-death decisions.

a trip to an out-of-the-way resort.

Their act is out of date.

106 Some compound adjectives seem rather odd because they contain words that are never used as single words on their own, for example 'namby-pamby', 'higgledy-piggledy', and 'topsy-turvy'. Words like these are usually informal.

all that arty-crafty spiritualism.

his la-di-da family.

foreign compound adjectives 107 Some compound adjectives are borrowed from foreign languages especially from French and Latin.

the arguments once used to defend laissez-faire economics.

their present per capita fuel consumption.

In the commercial theatre, almost every production is ad hoc.

Here is a list of compound adjectives borrowed from other languages:

a la mode

a posteriori

a priori

ad hoc

ad lib

au fait

avant-garde

bona fide

compos mentis

cordon bleu

de facto

de jure

de luxe

de rigueur

de trop

ex gratia

hors de combat

infra dig

laissez-faire

non compos mentis

per capita

prima facie

pro rata

sub judice

Comparing things: comparatives

108 You can describe something by saying that it has more of a quality than something else. You do this by using comparative adjectives. Only qualitative adjectives usually have comparatives, but a few colour adjectives also have them. Comparatives normally consist of the usual form of the adjective with either '-er' added to the end, as in 'harder' and 'smaller' or 'more' placed in front, as in 'more interesting' and 'more flexible'.

Note that 'good' and 'bad' have the irregular comparative forms 'better' and 'worse'.

The patterns for forming regular and irregular comparatives are explained in the Reference Section.

as modifiers 109 Comparatives can be used as modifiers in front of a noun.

Their demands for a bigger West German defence budget were refused.

To the brighter, more advanced child, they will be challenging.

A harder mattress often helps with back injuries.

Note that comparatives can also be used as modifiers in front of 'one'.

An understanding of this reality provokes a better one.

as complements 110 Comparatives can also be used as complements after a link verb.

The ball soaked up water and became heavier.

His breath became quieter.

We need to be more flexible.

The use of adjectives as the complements of link verbs is explained in paragraphs 3.133 to 3.138.

qualifiers after comparatives 111 Comparatives are often followed by 'than' when you want to specify what the other thing involved in the comparison is. You say exactly what you are comparing by using one of a number of structures after 'than'.

These structures can be

noun groups

Charlie was more honest than his predecessor.

an area bigger than Great Britain.

Note that when 'than' is followed by a pronoun on its own, the pronoun must be an object pronoun such as 'me', 'him', or 'her'.

My brother is younger than me.

Lamin was shorter than her.

adjuncts

The changes will be even more striking in the case of teaching than in medicine.

Last year, terrorist activities were worse than in any of the previous twelve years.

clauses

I would have done a better job than he did.

I was a better writer than he was.

He's taller than I am.

Note that when a comparative is not followed by a 'than' phrase, the outer thing in the comparison should be obvious. For example, if someone says 'Could I have a bigger one, please?' they are likely to be holding the item which they think is too small.

A mattress would be better.

112 If you choose a qualifying phrase or clause beginning with 'than' when you are using a comparative as a modifier, you usually put the qualifier after the whole noun group, not directly after the comparative.

Kairi was a more satisfactory pet than Tuku had been.

Willy owned a larger collection of books than anyone else I have ever met.

A comparative can also come immediately after a noun, but only when it is followed by 'than' and a noun group.

We've got a rat bigger than a cat living in our roof.

packs of cards larger than he was used to.

113 'More' is sometimes used in front of a whole noun group to indicate that something has more of the qualities of one thing than another, or is one thing rather than being another.

Music is more a way of life than an interest.

This is more a war movie than a western.

Note that 'more than' is used before adjectives as an emphatic adverb of degree.

Their life may be horribly dull, but they are more than satisfied.

You would be more than welcome.

114 Comparative adjectives are sometimes used as headwords in fairly formal English. When you use a comparative adjective as a headword, you put 'the' in front of it, and follow it with 'of' and a noun group which refers to the two things being compared.

the shorter of the two lines.

Dorothea was the more beautiful of the two.

There are two windmills, the larger of which stands a hundred feet high.

If it is clear what you are talking about, you can omit 'of' and the following noun group.

Notice to quit must cover the rental period or four weeks, whichever is the longer.

'less' 115 The form winch is used to indicate that something does not have as much of a quality as something else is 'less' followed by an adjective.

The answer had been less truthful than his own.

You can also use 'less' and an adjective to say that something does not have as much of a quality as it had before.

As the days went by, Sita became less anxious.

Note that 'less than' is used before adjectives like an emphatic negative.

It would have been less than fair.

contrasted comparatives 116 You can indicate that one amount of a quality or thing is linked to another amount by using two contrasted comparatives preceded by 'the'.

The earlier you detect a problem, the easier it is to cure.

The more militant we became, the less confident she became.

The larger the organization, the less scope there is for decision.

Comparing things: superlatives

117 Another way of describing something is to say that it has more of a quality than anything else of its kind. You do this by using a superlative adjective. Only qualitative adjectives usually have superlatives, but a few colour adjectives also have them. Superlatives normally consist of either '-est' added to the end of an adjective and 'the' placed in front of it. as in 'the hardest' and 'the smallest', or of 'the most' placed in front of the adjective, as in 'the most interesting' and 'the most flexible'.

Note that 'good' and 'bad' have the irregular superlative forms 'the best' and 'the worst'.

The patterns for forming regular and irregular superlatives of adjectives are explained in the Reference Section.

Note that superlative adjectives are nearly always preceded by 'the', because you are talking about something definite. Occasionally, when superlatives are used as complements, 'the' is omitted (see paragraph 122).

WARNING 118 Adjectives with 'most' in front of them are not always superlatives. 'Most' is also used as a submodifier, with the meaning 'very'.

This book was most interesting.

My grandfather was a most extraordinary man.

Submodifiers are explained in paragraphs 145 to 161.

used as modifiers 119 Superlatives can be used as modifiers in front of a noun.

He was the cleverest man I ever knew.

It was the most exciting summer of their lives.

She came out of the thickest part of the crowd.

Now we come to the most important thing.

the oldest rock paintings in North America.

the most eminent scientists in Britain.

Note that superlatives can also be used as modifiers in front of 'one'.

No one ever used the smallest one.

120 Superlatives can also be used as complements after a link verb.

He was the youngest.

The sergeant was the tallest.

The use of adjectives as the complements of link verbs is explained in paragraphs 3.133 to 3.138.

121 You can use a superlative on its own if it is clear what is being compared. For example, if you say 'The sergeant was the tallest', you are referring to a group of soldiers which has already been identified.

If you need to refer to the point of the comparison, you use a qualifying phrase or clause which consists of

a prepositional phrase normally beginning with 'in' or 'of'

Henry was the biggest of them.

The third requirement is the most important of all.

These cakes are probably the best in the world.

Note that if the superlative is a modifier in front of a noun, the prepositional phrase comes after the noun.

the best bargain for his money.

I'm in the worst business in the world.

a relative clause

The best I'm likely to get.

The visiting room was the worst I had seen.

Note that if the superlative is a modifier in front of a noun, the relative clause comes after the noun.

the most dangerous man in the country.

He and Nell had the most expensive dinner of their lives.

That's the most convincing answer that you've given me.

122 You usually put 'the' in front of the superlative, but you can occasionally omit it, especially in informal speech or writing.

Wool and cotton blankets are generally cheapest.

It can be used by whoever is closest.

However, you cannot omit 'the' when the superlative is followed by 'of' or another structure indicating what group of things you are comparing. So, for example, you can say 'Amanda was the youngest of our group' or 'Amanda was the youngest' or 'Amanda was youngest' but you cannot say 'Amanda was youngest of our group'.

You can sometimes use the possessive form of a noun or a possessive determiner instead of 'the' in front of a superlative. Often the possessive form of a noun is used instead of a prepositional phrase. For example, you can say 'Britain's oldest man' instead of 'the oldest man in Britain'.

the school's most famous headmaster.

my newest assistant.

The possessive form of nouns is explained in paragraphs 180 to 192, and possessive determiners are explained in paragraphs 1.192 to 1.207.

used with other adjectives 123 A superlative is sometimes accompanied by another adjective ending in '-able' or '-ible'. This second adjective can be placed either between the superlative and the noun group or after the noun group.

the narrowest imaginable range of interests.

the most beautiful scenery imaginable.

the longest possible gap.

'Who invited you?' said Etta, in the pleasantest manner possible.

superlatives as headwords 124 Superlative adjectives are sometimes used as headwords in fairly formal English. When you use a superlative adjective as a headword, you put 'the' in front of it, and follow it with 'of' and a noun group which refers to the things being compared. When superlative adjectives are used as headwords they can refer to one thing or to more than one.

They are often too poor to buy or rent even the cheapest of houses.

He made several important discoveries. The most interesting of these came from an examination of an old manuscript.

If it is clear what you are talking about, you can omit 'of' and the following noun group.

There are three types of ant-eater. The smallest lives entirely in trees.

USAGE NOTE 125 In informal speech, people often use a superlative ratter than a comparative when they are talking about two things. For example, someone might say 'The train is quickest' rather than 'The train is quicker' when comparing a train service with a bus service. However some people think that it is better to use superlatives only when comparing more than two things.

used with ordinal numbers 126 Ordinal numbers are used with superlatives to indicate that something has more of a quality than nearly all other things of their kind. For example, if you say that a mountain is 'the second highest mountain', you mean that it is higher than any other mountain except the highest one.

Mobil, the second biggest industrial company in the United States.

Stonehenge, the second most popular tourist attraction in Britain.

It is Japan's third largest city.

Ordinal numbers are explained in paragraphs 249 to 256.

'the least' 127 When you want to indicate that something has less of a qualify than anything else, you use 'the least' followed by an adjective.

This is the least popular branch of medicine.

Similarly, when you are talking about a group of things which have less of a quality than other things of their kind, you use 'the least'.

the least savage men in the country.

Other ways of comparing things: saying that things are similar

128 Another way of describing things is by saying that something is similar in some way to something else.

indicating things with the same quality 129 If you want to say that a thing or a person has as much of a quality as something or someone else, you can use a structure based on the word 'as' in front of a qualitative adjective. Usually this adjective is then followed by a qualifying phrase or clause which also begins with 'as'.

The qualifying phrase can be

a prepositional phrase beginning with the preposition 'as'

You're just as bad as your sister.

huge ponds as big as tennis courts.

Takings were as high as ever.

a clause introduced by the conjunction 'as'

Conversation was not as slow as I feared it would be.

The village gardens aren't as good as they used to be.

130 When this comparative structure is followed by a prepositional phrase consisting of 'as' and a pronoun on its own, the pronoun must be an appropriate object pronoun such as 'me', 'him', or 'her'. However when the comparative structure is followed by a clause consisting of the conjunction 'as' and a pronoun which is the subject of a clause, then that pronoun must be an appropriate subject pronoun such as 'I', 'he' or 'her'.

Jane was not as clever as him.

They aren't as clever as they appear to be.

131 If it is clear what you are comparing something or someone to, you can omit the qualifying phrase or clause.

A megaphone would be as good.

132 You can also use the 'asas' structure to say that something has much more or less of a quality than something else. You do this by putting an expression such as 'twice', 'three times', 'ten times', or 'half' in front of the first 'as'. For example, if one building is ten metres high and another building is twenty metres high, you can say that the second building is 'twice as high as' the first building or that the first building is 'half as high as' the second one.

The grass was twice as tall as in the rest of the field.

Water is eight hundred times as dense as air.

This structure is often used In the same way to refer to qualities that cannot be measured. For example, if you want to say that something is much more useful than something else, you can say that the first thing is 'a hundred times as useful as' the second one.

Without this rearing our children would be ten times as hard as it is.

133 When the 'asas' structure is preceded by 'not', it has the same meaning as 'lessthan'. For example, 'I am not as tall as George' means the same as 'I am less tall than George'. Some people use 'not soas' instead of 'not asas'.

No 14 Sumatra Road was not as pretty as Walnut Cottage.

The young otter is not so handsome as the old.

134 Submodifiers such as 'just', 'quite', 'nearly' and 'almost' can be used in front of this comparative structure, modifying the comparison with their usual meanings.

Sunburn can be just as severe as a heat burn.

The use of submodifiers in comparison is explained in paragraphs 162 to 173.

135 When you are using the 'asas' structure you can sometimes put a noun group after the adjective and before the qualifying phrase or clause. This noun group must begin with 'a' or 'an'. For example, instead of saying 'This knife is as good as that one', you can say 'This is as good a knife as that one'.

I'm as good a cook as she is.

This was not as bad a result as they expected.

Sometimes, instead of using 'not' before this structure, you can use 'not such' followed by 'a' or 'an', an adjective, a noun, and 'as'.

Water is not such a good conductor as metal.

136 Instead of using this 'asas' structure you can use expressions such as 'the height of' and 'the size of' to indicate that something is as big as something else, or bigger or smaller.

For a week my hand was the size of a boxing glove.

It is roughly the length of a man's arm.

'like' 137 If something has similar qualities or features to something else, instead of using the 'asas' comparative structure you can say that the first thing is 'like' the second one. You do this by using prepositional phrases beginning with 'like' after link verbs.

He looked like an actor.

That sounds like an exaggeration.

The whole thing is like a bad dream.

The meaning of this structure is close to the meaning of an ordinary complement structure (see paragraphs 3.139 to 3.143). Compare the last example with 'the whole thing is a bad dream'. This is a more definite statement, where 'a bad dream' is the complement of the link verb.

Here is a list of the link verbs used with 'like':

be

feel

look

seem

smell

sound

taste

When you want to say that one thing resembles another, you can use a prepositional phrase beginning with 'like' after these link verbs.

It was like a dream.

He still feels like a child.

He looked like a nice man.

The houses seemed like mansions.

You smell like a wild animal.

It sounded like a fine idea.

138 'Like' has the comparative 'more like' and 'less like', and the superlative 'most like' and 'least like'.

It made her seem less like another of Theodore's possessions.

Of all his children, she was the one most like me.

USAGE NOTE 139 You can use some submodifiers in front of 'like'.

He looks just like a baby.

She looked like a queen, just exactly like a queen.

This is explained in paragraph 170.

140 If you want to say that one thing is exactly like something else, you can say that it is 'the same as' the other thing.

The output signal will be the same as the input signal.

'The same as' can be followed by a noun group, a pronoun, an adjunct, or a clause.

24 Spring Terrace was the same as all its neighbours.

Her colouring was the same as mine.

The furnishings are not exactly the same as when Morris lived there.

If two or more things are exactly like each other, you can say that they 'the same'.

Come and look! They're exactly the same.

They both taste the same.

You can use 'the same' when you are comparing people or things with other people or things that you have just mentioned.

It looks like a calculator and weighs about the same.

The message was the same.

The end result is the same.

Note that you use 'the opposite', 'the converse', and 'the reverse' in a similar way.

The kind of religious thoughts I had were just the opposite.

This was true though the converse was not true.

141 You can use some submodifiers in front of 'the same as' and 'the same':

They are virtually the same as other single cells.

You two look exactly the same.

Here is a list of submodifiers used with 'the same as' and 'the same':

exactly

just

more or less

much

nearly

virtually

Submodifiers are explained in paragraphs 145 to 173.

142 You can put a noun such as 'size', 'length', or 'colour' after 'the same'. For example, if you want to say that one street is as long as another one, you can say that the first street is 'the same length as' the second one, or that the two streets are 'the same length'.

Its brain was about the same size as that of a gorilla.

They were almost the same height.

143 The adjectives 'alike', 'comparable', 'equivalent', 'identical', and 'similar' can also be used to say that two or more things are like each other. You can put the preposition 'to' after all of them except 'alike' in order to mention the second of the things being compared.

They all looked alike.

The houses were all identical.

Flemish is similar to Afrikaans.

144 When you want to suggest that you are comparing different amounts of a quality, you can use submodifiers such as 'comparatively', 'relative', and 'equally'.

Psychology's a comparatively new subject.

The costs remained relatively low.

Her technique was less dramatic than Ann's, but equally effective.

He was extra polite to his superiors.

Indicating different amounts of a quality: submodifiers

145 When you want to indicate something more about the quality which an adjective describes, you can use a submodifier such as 'very' and 'rather' with it. You do this in order to indicate the amount of the quality, or to intensify it. Many submodifiers are adverbs of degree (see paragraphs 6.45 to 6.52).

submodifying adjectives 146 Because qualitative adjectives are gradable, allowing you to say how much or how little of the quality is relevant, you are more likely lo use submodifiers with them than with other types of adjective.

an extremely narrow road.

a highly successful company.

in a slightly different way.

I was extraordinarily happy.

helping them in a strongly supportive way.

a very pretty girl.

She seems very pleasant.

a rather clumsy person.

His hair was rather long.

147 Although qualitative adjectives are the most frequently submodified, you can use submodifiers with classifying adjectives (see paragraphs 151 to 153) and with colour adjectives (see paragraph 35). Note that most '-ed' adjectives can be submodified by words such as'very and 'extremely', just like other qualitative adjectives.

a very frightened little girl.

an extremely disappointed young man.

intensifying qualitative adjectives 148 You can use many submodifiers with qualitative adjectives in order to intensify their meaning.

extremely high temperatures.

Geoffrey was a deeply religious man.

France is heavily dependent on foreign trade.

Here is a list of submodifiers used to intensify the meaning of adjectives:

amazingly

awfully

bitterly

critically

dangerously

deeply

delightfully

disturbingly

dreadfully

eminently

especially

exceedingly

extraordinarily

extremely

fantastically

greatly

heavily

highly

hopelessly

horribly

hugely

impossibly

incredibly

infinitely

notably

particularly

radically

really

remarkably

seriously

strikingly

supremely

surprisingly

suspiciously

terribly

unbelievably

very

violently

vitally

wildly

wonderfully

Note that 'very' can be used to submodify superlative adjectives when you want to be very emphatic. This is explained in paragraphs 172 to 173.

Note also that adjectives with 'most' in front of them are not always superlatives. 'Most' is also used as a submodifier with the meaning 'very'.

This book was most interesting.

My grandfather was a most extraordinary man.

149 Many of these submodifiers not only intensify the meaning of the adjective but also allow you to express your opinion about what you are saying. For example, if you say that something is 'surprisingly large', you are expressing surprise at how large it is as well as intensifying the meaning of 'large'.

He has amazingly long eyelashes.

a delightfully refreshing taste.

The cabin was extraordinarily quiet.

a horribly uncomfortable chair.

incredibly boring documents.

However, you use a few of these submodifiers with no other purpose than to intensify the meaning of the adjective.

They're awfully brave.

The other girls were dreadfully dull companions.

Here is a list of submodifiers only used to intensify adjectives:

awfully

dreadfully

especially

extremely

greatly

highly

horribly

really

so

terribly

very

Note that 'awfully', 'dreadfully', 'horribly', and 'terribly' are used in informal language and 'highly' is used in very formal language.

Note also that 'so' is normally only used after a link verb.

I'am so sorry.

150 Some submodifiers are used to reduce the effect of qualitative adjectives.

It was faintly funny.

It's a fairly common feeling.

moderately rich people.

his rather large stomach.

My last question is somewhat personal.

Here is a list of submodifiers used to reduce the effect of an adjective:

fatally

fairly

mildly

moderately

pretty

quite

rather

reasonably

slightly

somewhat

Note that 'quite' and 'rather', as well as being used as submodifiers to reduce the effect of an adjective, are also predeterminers (see paragraph 1.236).

Note also that 'quite' is normally only used with adjectives which are used after a link verb.

She was quite tall.

indicating extent 151 Some submodifiers are used to indicate the extent of the quality which you are describing.

Here is a list of submodifiers used to indicate the extent of a quality:

almost

exclusively

fully

largely

mainly

mostly

nearly

partly

predominantly

primarily

roughly

~

absolutely

altogether

completely

entirely

perfectly

purely

quite

simply

totally

utterly

USAGE NOTE 152 The first group in the list above are used almost always just to indicate the extent of a quality. They are most commonly used with classifying adjectives.

It was an almost automatic reflex.

described in exclusively human terms.

Kashmir is a largely muslim state.

The wolf is now nearly extinct.

The reasons for this were partly economic and practical, and partly political and social.

'Almost' and 'nearly' are also used with qualitative adjectives.

The club was almost empty.

It was nearly dark.

Note that 'roughly' can be used when you want to say that something is nearly or approximately like something else.

West Germany, Japan and Sweden are at roughly similar levels of economic development.

Note also that 'half' can sometimes be used in this way. For example, you can describe someone as 'half American' if just one of their parents was American.

153 The second group in the list above are used not only to indicate the extent of a quality but also to emphasize the adjective. They can be used with classifying adjectives as well as qualitative adjectives.

You're absolutely right.

This policy has been completely unsuccessful.

Everyone appeared to be completely unaware of the fact.

The discussion was purely theoretical.

It really is quite astonishing.

a totally new situation.

We lived totally separate lives.

utterly trivial matters.

Note that 'absolutely' is frequently used with qualitative adjectives which express enthusiasm or lack of enthusiasm. When you use 'absolutely' in this way you are emphasizing how strongly you feel about what you are saying.

an absolutely absurd sermon.

I think it's absolutely wonderful.

The enquiry is absolutely crucial.

Here is a list of qualitative adjectives often emphasized by 'absolutely'.

absurd

awful

brilliant

certain

crucial

enormous

essential

excellent

furious

huge

impossible

massive

perfect

splendid

terrible

vital

wonderful

Note also that 'completely' and 'utterly' can also be used in this way.

It is completely impossible to imagine such a world.

He began to feel utterly miserable.

154 You can use submodifiers such as 'adequately', 'sufficiently', and 'acceptably' when you want to indicate that someone or something has a sufficient amount of the quality you are describing.

The roof is adequately insulated.

We found a bank of snow sufficiently deep to dig a cave.

155 You can also indicate that you think something is sufficient by using 'enough'. 'Enough' always comes after the adjective, and never before it.

I was not a good enough rider.

It seemed that Henry had not been careful enough.

'Enough' can be followed by a prepositional phrase beginning with 'for' to indicate a person involved, or by a 'to'-infinitive clause to indicate a related action.

A girl in the factory wasn't good enough for him.

If you find that the white wine is not cold enough for you, ask for some ice to be put in it.

The children are old enough to travel to school on their own.

None of the richly growing crops was ripe enough to eat.

Note that when 'enough' is used after an adjective, you can use 'just' in front of the adjective to indicate that someone or something has a sufficient amount of the quality described by the adjective, but no more than that.

Some of these creatures are just large enough to see with the naked eye.

156 'Enough' can also be a determiner (see paragraphs 1.208 to 1.232).

He hasn't had enough exercise.

When 'enough' is a determiner, it can have a submodifier in front of it.

There was just enough space for a bed.

They now have almost enough scholars.

157 If you want to indicate that you think something you are describes is insufficient, you can use submodifiers such as 'inadequately', 'insufficiently', and 'unacceptably'.

insufficiently subtle and detailed methods.

Their publications were inadequately researched.

158 If you want to indicate that you think someone or something has an excessive amount of a quality, you normally use the submodifier 'too' in front of a qualitative adjective which is used predicatively.

My feet are too big.

It was too hot.

Dad thought I was too idealistic.

'Too' can be followed by a prepositional phrase beginning with 'for' to indicate a person involved or by a 'to-'infinitive clause to indicate a related action.

The shoes were too big for him.

He was too old for that sort of thing.

He was too weak to lift me.

He was too proud to apologise.

Note that you do not usually use 'too' with an adjective in front of a noun, although you do use 'too' in front of the determiners 'many', 'much', and 'few'.

You ask too many questions, Sam.

There is too much chance of error.

Too few people nowadays are interested in Literature.

WARNING 159 'Too' cannot be used instead of 'very'. Rather than saying 'I am too happy to meet you', you must say 'I am very happy to meet you.'

160 Other words that indicate too much of a quality are 'excessively', 'overly', and the prefix 'over-'. These can be used, like 'too', with predicative adjectives, but they can also be used with attributive adjectives.

excessively high accident rates.

an intellectual but over-cautious man.

They were overly eager.

PRODUCTIVE FEATURE 161 As well as adverbs of degree, you can use some other types of adverb such as adverbs of time in front of adjectives to modify their meaning. This is a productive feature of English. Productive features are explained in the Introduction.

the once elegant palace.

a permanently muddy road.

internationally famous golfers.

naturally blonde hair.

coolly elegant furniture.

purposely expensive gadgets.

Adverbs are explained in Chapter 6.

Indicating the degree of difference: submodifiers in comparison

162 When you are using comparative adjectives, you may want to say that something has much more or much less of a quantity than something else. You can do this by adding a submodifier.

He is a much better dentist than you.

These creatures are much less mobile.

There are far worse dangers.

Some children are a lot more difficult than others.

You can also use a submodifier to say that something has much more or much less of a quality than it had before.

He had become much more mature.

That's much less important than it was.

163 Some submodifiers can only be used when comparative adjectives are being used as complements.

You look a lot better.

It would be a good deal easier if you came to my place.

The journey back was a great deal more unpleasant than the outward one had been.

Here is a list of submodifiers used in front of comparative adjectives:

a good deal

a great deal

a lot

heaps

lots

Note that 'lots' and 'heaps' are only used in informal spoken English.

164 However, other submodifiers can be used with comparative adjectives which are being used as either modifiers or complements.

They are faced with a much harder problem than the rest of us.

Scientific activity is now much greater.

Computers can be applied to a far wider range of tasks.

The process is far simpler than multiplication.

Here is a list of submodifiers used with adjectives that are used both attributively and predicatively:

considerably

far

infinitely

much

vastly

very much

165 If you want to say that something has more of a quality than something else which already has a lot of it, you can use 'even' or 'still' before a comparative adjective, or 'still' after it.

She's even lazier than me!

She was even more possessive than Rosamund.

I had a still more recent report.

The text is actually worse still.

Similarly, you can use 'even' or 'still' to say that something has less of a quality than something else which has little of this quality.

Selection and assessment tend to be even less fair.

You can also use 'even' or 'still' when comparing the amount of a quality that something has at one time with the amount that it has at another.

Their non-nuclear superiority has grown even bigger since 1967.

They will become richer still.

In formal or literary English, 'yet' is sometimes used as a submodifier in the same way as 'still'.

He would have been yet more alarmed had she withdrawn.

The planes grow mightier yet.

166 You can indicate that something has an increasing or decreasing amount of a quality by repeating comparative adjectives. For example, you can say that something is getting 'bigger and bigger', 'more and more difficult', or 'less and less common'.

He's getting fatter and fatter.

defences that were proving more and more effective.

'Increasingly' can be used instead of 'more and more' and 'decreasingly' instead of 'less and less'.

I was becoming increasingly depressed.

It was the first of a number of increasingly frank talks.

167 If you want to say that something has a little more or a little less of a quality than something else, you can use 'rather', 'slightly', 'a bit', 'a little bit', or 'a little' with comparative adjectives.

It's a rather more complicated story then that.

She's only a little bit taller than her sister.

You can also use these constructions to say that something has a little more or a little less of a quality than it had before.

We must be rather more visible to people in the community.

the little things that made life slightly less intolerable.

168 If you want to say emphatically that something has no more of a quality than something else or than it had before, you can use 'no' in front of comparative adjectives.

Some species of dinosaur were no bigger than a chicken.

'Any' is used for emphasis in front of comparatives in negative clauses, questions, and conditional clauses. For example, 'He wasn't any taller than Jane' means the same as 'He was no taller than Jane'.

I was ten and didn't look any older.

If it will make you any happier, I'll shave off my beard.

Is that any clearer?

Note that you can only use 'no' and 'any' like this when comparatives are being used as complements. You cannot use 'no' and 'any' with comparatives when they are being used in front of a noun group. For example, you cannot say 'It was a no better meal' or 'Is that an any faster train?'

169 When you use the comparative structure 'asas' (see paragraphs 129 to 135), submodifiers such as 'just', 'quite', 'nearly', and 'almost' can be used in front of it, modifying the comparison with their usual meanings.

Mary was just as pale as he was.

They set upon insects quite as large as themselves.

a huge bird which was nearly as big as a man.

The land seemed almost as dark as the water.

'Nearly' can also be used as a submodifier when the 'asas' structure is preceded by 'not' with the meaning 'lessthan'. You put it after the 'not'. For example, 'I am not nearly as tall as George' means the same as 'I am much less tall than George'.

This is not nearly as complicated as it sounds.

170 When you use 'like' to describe someone or something by comparing them with someone or something else (see paragraphs 137 to 139), you can use a submodifier in front of it.

animals that looked a little like donkeys.

It's a plane exactly like his.

Here is a list of submodifiers used with 'like':

a bit

a little

exactly

just

quite

rather

somewhat

very

171 When you use 'the same as' and 'the same' to describe someone or something by saying they are identical to someone or something else, you can use a number of submodifiers in front of them, including 'just', 'exactly', 'much', 'nearly', 'virtually', and 'more or less'. These modify the meaning with their usual meanings.

She wore plimsolls, just the same as the ones we wore at school.

The situation was much the same in Germany.

The moral code would seem to be more or less the same throughout the world.

172 When you are using superlative adjectives, you may wish to say that something has much more or much less of a quality than anything else of its kind. As with comparatives, you can do this by using submodifiers.

The submodifiers 'much', 'quite', 'easily', 'by far', and 'very' can be used with the superlative adjectives.

'Much', 'quite', and 'easily' are placed in front of 'the' and the superlative.

Music may have been much the most respectable of his tastes.

the most frightening time of my life, and quite the most dishonest.

The Granada is easily the most popular model.

'By far' can be placed either in front of 'the' and the superlative or after the superlative.

They are by far the most dangerous creatures on the island.

The Union was the largest by far.

173 'Very' can only be used with superlatives formed by adding '-est' with irregular superlatives such as 'the best' and 'the worst'. 'Very' is placed between 'the' and the superlative.

the very earliest computers.

It was of the very highest quality.

'Very' can also be used to submodify superlative adjectives when you warn to be very emphatic. It is placed after a determiner such as 'the' or 'that' and in front of a superlative adjective or one such as 'first' or 'last'.

in the very smallest countries.

one of the very finest breeds of dogs.

on the very first day of the war.

He had come at the very last moment.

That very next afternoon he was working in his room.

He spent weeks in that very same basement.

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