Adjectives appear in different positions in a sentence. The two positions we often encounter are before a noun and after a noun. Adjectives that come after a noun must follow a linking verb (also called A.
(1) Adjective that comes before a noun is called an attributive adjective
The attributive adjective modifies the noun that follows it. There can be more than one attributive adjective appearing side-by-side to modify the same noun.
Adjectives (in bold) that come before a noun.
Adjectives (in bold) that come before a noun:
- a fresh fish.
- a small tree.
- a long dress.
- a square box.
- a beautiful house.
- Everyone knows a giraffee has a long neck.
- My old car didn't have air conditioning.
- Today, we have blue sky.
The words in bold long, old and blue are adjectives. They come before the nouns neck, car and sky. The adjectives describe the shape of the neck; age of the car; and colour of the sky. The noun phrases are long neck, old car, and blue sky.
More than one adjective can appear side-by-side to modify the same noun.
- an ugly old witch.
- a funny little clown.
- a tall young manager.
- a big powerful sound.
(2) Adjective that comes after a noun is called a predicative adjective
The predicative adjective modifies the noun that comes before it. It acts as a predicate as it completes the meaning of the predicate in the sentence. The predicate is linked by the verb to be, which is normally a linking verb (also called a copula verb) to the subject. The predicative adjective says something about the subject of the sentence. It may also be referred to as a predicate adjective.
Predicative adjectives that come after the linking verbs
- That statue of a goddess was large.
- One of the tables is round.
- The sky looks dark.
The words in bold large, round, and dark are predicative adjectives as they come after the nouns statue, table, and sky which they modify by telling us the size of the statue, the shape of the table, and the colour of the sky. The predicative adjectives act as complements of the linking verbs was, is, and looks. These verbs connect the predicative adjectives to their respective subjects which are statue, table, and sky.
Adjectives that come after other linking verbs:
More predicative adjectives that come after linking verbs:
- I am tired.
- We are hungry.
- They were friendly towards us.
- The beef tasted delicious.
- She grew bored being alone.
- The question sounds silly.
- The child remained silent when questioned.
(3) Adjective that comes before or after a noun
Most adjectives can come before and after a noun, but there are some that can only be used as attributive adjectives or as predicative adjectives.
We can say, “The blue sky …” or “The sky is blue.” The adjective blue can be used an attributive adjective or a predicative adjective. Either way, the adjective modifies the same subject sky. When changing an attributive adjective to a predicative adjective, we use a linking verb which in this example is is.
Adjectives that can be used only as attributive adjectives
Adjectives that can be used only as predicative adjectives
(4) Attributive and predicative adjectives in same sentence
An adjective can take up any position in a sentence, preferably close to the noun that it describes. More than one adjective can appear in a sentence, describing the same noun. The adjectives are in bold in the following sentences.
- The pretty girl is angry with her boyfriend.
- The warm air is thick with dust.
- His big house must be expensive to maintain.