Adjectives appear in different positions in a sentence. The two positions we often encounter are before a noun and after a linking verb which comes after a noun.
(1) The 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 adjective appearing side-by-side to modify the same noun.
Adjectives (in bold) that come before a noun.
- a fresh fish.
- a small tree.
- a long dress.
- a square box.
- a beautiful house.
More than one adjective can come before a noun.
- an ugly old witch.
- a funny little clown.
- a tall young manager.
- a big powerful sound.
(2) The adjective that comes after a noun is called a predicative adjective.
A predicative adjective says something about the subject of the sentence. In the following sentence, the subject is “the bulls” and the adjective “black” modifies the subject. The adjective is joined to the subject by a verb “look”, a linking verb. Linking verbs are used here as they connect the subject with the adjective that describes it. Examples of linking verb include all forms of be (am, is, are, was, were) and other verbs such as grow, remain, sound, taste, etc.
Adjectives that come after the BE-verb:
- He is thin.
- We are hungry.
- She was tired after work.
- They were friendly towards me.
Adjectives that come after other linking verbs:
- The beef tasted delicious.
- She grewbored being alone.
- The question sounds silly.
- The child remained silent when questioned.
Adjectives that cannot come before the subject noun:
- The boys are ready to go. (Not: The ready boys are to go.)
- The parents were glad about their daughter's success. (Not: The glad parents were …..)
- Her mother is seriously ill in hospital.