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Materi Kuliah 3 ADJECTIVES- Englis 2011

Source British Counc. UK.


Compilled by. Pierre Gosal

ADJECTIVES
An adjective is a word that tells us more about a noun. (By "noun" we
include pronouns and noun phrases).
An adjective "qualifies" or
"modifies" a noun (a big dog). Adjectives can be used before a noun (I like
Chinese food) or after certain verbs (It is hard). We can often use two or
more adjectives together (a beautiful young French lady).
Determiners
Determiners are words like the, an, my, some. They are grammatically
similar. They all come at the beginning of noun phrases, and usually w\e
cannot use more than one determiner in the same noun phrase.
Articles:
a, an, the
Possessive Adjectives:
my, your, his, her, its, our, their, whose
Other determiners:
each, every
either, neither
some, any, no
much, many; more, most
little, less, least
few, fewer, fewest
what, whatever; which, whichever
both, half, all
several
enough
Adjective Order
There are 2 basic positions for adjectives:
1. before the noun
2. after certain verbs (be, become, get, seem, look, feel, sound, smell,
taste)

I like

adj.

noun

big

cars.

My car

verb

adj.

is

big.

Comparative Adjectives
When we talk about two things, we can "compare" them. We can see if
they are the same or different. Perhaps they are the same in some ways
and different in other ways. We can use comparative adjectives to
describe the differences.
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Materi Kuliah 3 ADJECTIVES- Englis 2011


Source British Counc. UK.
Compilled by. Pierre Gosal

Superlative Adjectives
A superlative adjective expresses the extreme or highest degree of a
quality. We use a superlative adjective to describe the extreme quality of
one thing in a group of things.
In the example below, "biggest" is the superlative form of the adjective
"big":
ABC
A is the biggest.
Gradable and Non-gradable Adjectives
Adjectives describe qualities (characteristics) of nouns.

Some qualities can vary in intensity or grade (for example: rather


hot, hot, very hot; hot, hotter, the hottest).
The adjective hot is gradable.
Other qualities cannot vary in intensity or grade because they are:
a. extremes (for example: freezing)
b. absolutes (for example: dead)
c. classifying (for example: nuclear)

The adjectives freezing, dead and nuclear are non-gradable.


Gradable Adjectives
A gradable adjective can be used with "grading adverbs" that vary the
adjective's grade or intensity. Look at these examples:
grading adverbs
a little, dreadfully, extremely,
fairly, hugely, immensely,
intensely, rather, reasonably,
slightly, unusually, very

gradable adjectives
angry, big, busy, clever, cold, deep,
+ fast, friendly, good, happy, high, hot,
important, long, popular, rich,
strong, tall, warm, weak, young

A gradable adjective can also have comparative and superlative forms:


EC Tip: "Gradable adjectives" are also called "qualitative adjectives".
"Grading adverbs" are also called "submodifiers".
big, bigger, the biggest
hot, hotter, the hottest
important, more important, the most important
Look at these example sentences:

My teacher was very happy with my homework.


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Materi Kuliah 3 ADJECTIVES- Englis 2011


Source British Counc. UK.
Compilled by. Pierre Gosal

That website is reasonably popular. But this one is more popular.


He said that Holland was a little cold and Denmark was rather cold.
But Sweden was the coldest.
EC Tip: The adjective dead is non-gradable because it is an absolute. Dead
is dead. We cannot be more or less dead. One person cannot be "deader"
than another. Other absolutes include: correct, unique, perfect

Non-gradable Adjectives
A non-gradable adjective cannot be used with grading adverbs:

It was rather freezing outside.


The dog was very dead.
He is investing in slightly nuclear energy.

Non-gradable adjectives do not normally have comparative and


superlative forms:

freezing, more freezing, the most freezing


dead, deader, the deadest
nuclear, more nuclear, the most nuclear

Often, non-gradable adjectives are used alone:

EC Tip:
Don't try to learn lists of gradable and non-gradable adjectives! It's better
to understand what makes an adjective gradable or non-gradable. This is
a matter of logic and common sense. Most native-speakers have never
heard of gradable and non-gradable adjectives. They just "feel" that it
doesn't make sense to say "fairly excellent" or "very unique". You probably
have the same idea in your language.

It was freezing outside.


The dog was dead.
He is investing in nuclear energy.

However, a non-gradable adjective can be used with "non-grading


adverbs" (which usually just give the adjective extra impact), for example:
non-grading adverbs

non-gradable adjectives

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Materi Kuliah 3 ADJECTIVES- Englis 2011


Source British Counc. UK.
Compilled by. Pierre Gosal

absolutely

awful

utterly

excellent

completely

terrified

totally

dead

nearly

impossible

virtually

unique

essentially

chemical

mainly

digital

almost

domestic

extreme

absolute

classifying

Here are some example sentences with non-gradable adjectives:

Her exam results were absolutely awful. She will have to take the
exam again.
Is there anything like it in the world? It must be virtually unique.
It starts an essentially chemical reaction.

Adjectives that can be gradable and non-gradable


Some adjectives may have more than one meaning or sense. It's possible
for the same adjective to be gradable with one sense and non-gradable
with another sense. For example:
adjective

common
=

He's got a very old car.

gradable

not young

I saw my old boyfriend yesterday.

nongradable

former,
ex-

He has some dreadfully common habits.

gradable

vulgar

"The" is a very common word in English.

gradable

prevalent
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Materi Kuliah 3 ADJECTIVES- Englis 2011


Source British Counc. UK.
Compilled by. Pierre Gosal

The two countries' common border poses


problems.

nongradable

shared

Adverbs used with gradable and non-gradable adjectives


The adverbs really (very much) and fairly and pretty (both meaning "to a
significant degree, but less than very") can often be used with gradable
and non-gradable adjectives:
gradable

non-gradable

Please don't forget! It's really


important.

He was really terrified.

He's a fairly rich man.

It's a fairly impossible job.

He's pretty tall.

It's pretty ridiculous when you think


about it.

"Quite" with gradable and non-gradable adjectives


The meaning of the adverb "quite" changes according to the type of
adjective we use it with:
adjective

quite =

It's quite warm today.

gradable

fairly, rather

Are you quite certain?

non-gradable

completely, absolutely

Reference
Non-gradable adjectives
Although we don't recommend that you learn lists of non-gradable
adjectives, here are some for reference. You can decide for yourself
whether they are extreme, absolute or classifying.
alive, awful, black, boiling, certain, correct, dead, domestic, enormous,
environmental, excellent, freezing, furious, gigantic, huge, immediately,
impossible, miniscule, mortal, overjoyed, perfect, pregnant, principal,
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Materi Kuliah 3 ADJECTIVES- Englis 2011


Source British Counc. UK.
Compilled by. Pierre Gosal

ridiculous, superb, terrible, terrified, unique, unknown, white, whole

Non-grading adverbs
Again, no need to learn lists. Here are a few examples. There are many
more. Remember that you cannot use all non-grading adverbs with all
non-gradable adjectives. Some collocate (go together). Some don't.
absolutely, almost, completely, entirely, exclusively, fully, largely,
mainly, nearly, perfectly, practically, primarily, utterly, virtually
As you know, a noun is a person, place or thing, and an adjective is a word
that describes a noun:
adjective

noun

clever

teacher

small

office

black

horse

Sometimes we use a noun to describe another noun. In that case, the first
noun "acts as" an adjective.
noun
as adjective

noun

history

teacher

ticket

office

race

horse

The "noun as adjective" always comes first


If you remember this it will help you to understand what is being talked
about:

a
a
a
a

race horse is a horse that runs in races


horse race is a race for horses
boat race is a race for boats
love story is a story about love
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Materi Kuliah 3 ADJECTIVES- Englis 2011


Source British Counc. UK.
Compilled by. Pierre Gosal

a war story is a story about war


a tennis ball is a ball for playing tennis
tennis shoes are shoes for playing tennis
a computer exhibition is an exhibition of computers
a bicycle shop is a shop that sells bicycles

The "noun as adjective" is singular


Just like a real adjective, the "noun as adjective" is invariable. It is usually
in the singular form.
Right

Wrong

boat race

boat races

NOT boats race, boats races

toothbrush

toothbrushes

NOT teethbrush, teethbrushes

shoe-lace

shoe-laces

NOT shoes-lace, shoes-laces

cigarette
packet

cigarette
packets

NOT cigarettes packet, cigarettes


packets

In other words, if there is a plural it is on the real noun only.


A few nouns look plural but we usually treat them as singular (for example
news, billiards, athletics). When we use these nouns "as adjectives" they
are unchanged:

a news reporter, three news reporters


one billiards table, four billiards tables
an athletics trainer, fifty athletics trainers

Exceptions:
When we use certain nouns "as adjectives" (clothes, sports, customs,
accounts, arms), we use them in the plural form:

clothes shop, clothes shops


sports club, sports clubs
customs duty, customs duties
accounts department, accounts departments
arms production

How do we write the "noun as adjective"?


We write the "noun as adjective" and the real noun in several different
ways:

two separate words (car door)


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Materi Kuliah 3 ADJECTIVES- Englis 2011


Source British Counc. UK.
Compilled by. Pierre Gosal

two hyphenated words (book-case)


one word (bathroom)

There are no easy rules for this. We even write some combinations in two
or all three different ways: (head master, head-master, headmaster)
How do we say the "noun as adjective"?
For pronunciation, we usually stress the first word:

shoe shop
boat-race
bathroom

Can we have more than one "noun as adjective"?


Yes. Just like adjectives, we often use more than one "noun as adjective"
together.
Look at these examples:
car production costs: we are talking about the costs of producing cars
noun as
adjective

noun as
adjective

noun
costs

car

production

costs

production

costs

England football team coach: we are talking about the coach who trains
the team that plays football for England
noun as
adjective

noun as
adjective

noun as
adjective

noun
coach

England

team

coach

football

team

coach

football

team

coach

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Materi Kuliah 3 ADJECTIVES- Englis 2011


Source British Counc. UK.
Compilled by. Pierre Gosal

Note: in England football team coach can you see a "hidden" "noun as
adjective"? Look at the word "football" (foot-ball). These two nouns
(foot+ball) have developed into a single noun (football). This is one way
that words evolve. Many word combinations that use a "noun as adjective"
are regarded as nouns in their own right, with their own dictionary
definition. But not all dictionaries agree with each other. For example,
some dictionaries list "tennis ball" as a noun and other dictionaries do not.
government road accident research centre: we are talking about a centre
that researches into accidents on the road for the government
noun as
adjective

noun as
adjective

noun as
adjective

noun as
adjective

noun
centre

government

research

centre

accident

research

centre

road

accident

research

centre

road

accident

research

centre

Newpapers often use many nouns together in headlines to save space.


Look at this example:
BIRD HEALTH RESEARCH CENTRE MURDER MYSTERY
To understand headlines like these, try reading them backwards. The
above headline is about a MYSTERY concerning a MURDER in a CENTRE for
RESEARCH into the HEALTH of BIRDS.
Note, too, that we can still use a real adjective to qualify a "noun as
adjective" structure:

empty coffee jar


honest car salesman
delicious dog food
rising car production costs
famous England football team coach

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