​All About Adjectives

Present participle adjectives 

  • amusing, 
  • boring, 
  • tiring, 
  • exciting, 
  • thrilling, 
  • adoring, 
  • interesting, 
  • amazing, etc., 

are active and mean ‘those having this effect'.

Adjective / noun / adverb + present participle = a compound adjective

a smart-looking man, a sharp-cutting knife, a fun-loving person, etc.

Past participle adjectives

amused, horrified, tired, excited, thrilled, terrified, etc., are passive and mean 'affected in this way’.

The play was boring.


The audience was bored.

The work was tiring. 


The workers were soon tired.

The scene was horrifying. 


The spectators were horrified.

An infuriating woman (She made us furious).

An infuriated woman (Something had made her furious).

Adjective / noun / adverb + past participle = a compound adjective 

a long-awaited letter, a well-taught student, a much-liked colleague, a well-known singer, a perfectly-tended garden, an ill-advised action, a badly-treated animal, a well-established firm etc.

Verb + adjective

after be, become, seem , appear, feel, get/grow (= become), keep, look (= appear), make, stay, remain, smell, sound, taste, turn adjectives are used.

Tom felt cold. He got/grew impatient. He made her happy. The idea sounds interesting. Tom became rich Ann seems happy. These roses smell nice. She looks good. We feel comfortable. It tastes bitter.


He looked calm (adjective) = He had a calm expression.

He looked calmly (adverb) at the angry crowd (looked here is a deliberate action.)

She turned pale (adjective) = She became pale

He turned angrily (adverb) to the man behind him. (turned here is a deliberate action.)

The soup tasted horrible (adjective) (It had a horrible taste.)

He tasted the soup suspiciously (adverb). (tasted here is a deliberate action.)

More following verb + adjectives

afraid, upset, adrift, afloat, alike, alive, alone, ashamed, asleep.

Bill and Tom are very alike. 

He was alone. 

He is kept alive by a feeding tube.

Order of adjectives of quality OPINION S.A.SH.T.C.O.M.P.

  1. personal opinion
  2. size (except little)
  3. age, and the adjective little
  4. shape
  5. colour
  6. origin
  7. material
  8. purpose

For example:

  • a wooden walking stick
  • old riding boots
  • a long sharp knife
  • a small round bath
  • new hexagonal coins
  • blue velvet curtains
  • an old plastic bucket
  • an elegant French clock.


There are three degrees of comparison:

Positive Comparative Superlative
one-syllable adjectives and ending in -y
dark darker the darkest
happy happier the happiest
adjectives of two syllables
clever cleverer cleverest | clever more clever the most clever
adjectives of three or more syllables and ending in -ful
useful more useful the most useful

Irregular Comparisons

good better best

bad — worse — worst

far — farther — farthest

far — further — furthest

little — less — least

many/much — more — most

old — elder — eldest

old — older — oldest


far — farther — farthest 

far — further — furthest 

Both forms can be used of distance: 

  • the farthest / furthest town,
  • the farthest / furthest of all destinations


further — furthest -with abstract nouns also means ‘additional/extra': 

  • further supplies, 
  • further negotiations, 
  • further discussion / debate, 
  • further enquiries / delays / demands / information / instructions, 
  • the furthest point in the discussion, 
  • the furthest concession, etc.

old — elder — eldest; older —  oldest

elder — eldest used for seniority within a family: 

  • my elder daughter, 
  • her eldest boy / girl / son / sister / brother.

Eldest, oldest and youngest are used of only two boys / girls / children etc.:

  • his eldest boy's at school,
  • the other is still at home.

Elder is not used with than

older + than

He is older than I am

She is 3 years older than me.

Nouns of material, purpose or substance as adjectives can not be compared: 

  • a summer suit, 
  • a television series, 
  • a silk dress, 
  • a stone wall, 
  • a gold ring, 
  • a feather pillow, 
  • metal-rimmed glasses, 
  • a leather coat, 
  • a lead pipe, 
  • a steel-plated tank.

Than is for comparing two things or people: 

The new blocks-of-flats are much higher than the old buildings. 

He makes fewer mistakes than you (do), 

She is cleverer than I expected.

Superlatives are for comparison of three or more people / things + in/of

This is the oldest building of all, the richest member in the family.

Superlative adjective + that (not which) + a perfect tense.

It/This is the best coffee (that) I have ever (not never) drunk.

It/This was the worst play (that) he had ever seen.

He is the most generous man (that) I have ever met.

It was the most worrying night (that) she had ever spent.

Never + a comparative

/ have never drunk better beer

I have never met a kinder man

He had never spent a more worrying day

Most = very (mainly with adjectives of two or more syllables)

You are most generous means You are very generous

It is most annoying.

The letter was most apologetic.

The boy is most disobedient.

The speech is most encouraging, exciting,

helpful important, misleading etc




very much, 

a lot, 


a little, 

a bit, 

even, slightly + comparatives.

  • much older than, 
  • far more difficult than, 
  • very much nicer, 
  • a lot happier, 
  • rather more distinguished, 
  • a little less expensive, 
  • a bit more sensible, 
  • even worse, 
  • slightly higher.

Much, by far, quite, almost, practically, nearly, easily + superlatives.

He is much the most imaginative of them all.

She is by far the oldest.

He is quite the most stupid.

I am nearly the oldest in the firm.

This is nearly the worst party I have been to

As... as...

As positive adjective as

as tall as a giraffe, 

as white as a sheet,

Not as / so positive adjective as

Manslaughter is not as/so bad as murder.

Your coffee is not as/so tasteful as the coffee at a cafe.

The + comparative the + comparative 

for parallel increase

The bigger the house is the higher the bills are.

But the smaller the flat is, the less it will cost us to heat.

The more disobedient the employees are the more probable they will be dismissed.

Comparative and comparative 

for gradual increase or decrease

The weather is getting colder and colder.

He became less and less interested.

The employees are becoming more and more disobedient.

The structures to compare and contrast things

much the same / the same… as 

He has the same views as his father.

Different… from + positive degree 

She is not very much different from her sister.

not as/so + positive degree… as + positive degree 

She is not as/so tall as her sister.

Nowhere near as + positive degree…

as + positive degree… as + positive degree 

He is as handsome as everyone says he is.

Such + adjective + noun 

This is such a spacious room.

so + adjective / adverb 


such a lot He is so lazy.

The + comparative adjective / adverb  the + comparative  adjective / adverb 

The more we discuss it, the less I understand it.

Twice/ three times/ half +positive adjective /adverb + as…

She puts four times as much sugar in her teas as me.

Comparative and comparative 

It is getting colder and colder every day.

Like or as

like (preposition) + noun, pronoun or gerund

He swims like a fish. 

You look like a ghost.

I am like my brother. 

She looks nothing like her mother.

The windows are all barred It is like being in prison

as (conjunction) + a finite verb

Do as I do.

Why don't you jog in the morning as we do?


In colloquial English like is often used here instead of as.

Jog in the morning like we do.

like + noun

as + noun

He works like a slave (very hard indeed)

He worked as a slave (He was a slave )

She used her umbrella as a weapon (She struck him with it).

Like or alike

Like is a preposition, used before noun or gerund.

Alike is adverb or adjective and has a post predicate position. 

The brother is very like the sister.

The brothers are very much alike.

The walls are alike in color.

Than/as + I do / I am…

a) auxiliary for the same verb after than / as

I earn less than he earns. I earn less than he does.

b) auxiliary depends on tense

He knows more than I did at his age.

c) omitting the verb in formal English

I'm not as cunning as you (are).

He has more time than I/we (have).

I have to work harder than she (does).

/ play chess better than he (does).

You can't type as fast as I can.

d) omitting the verb in informal English

He has more free time than me.

They are much richer than us.

They work harder than than us.

You can't type as fast as me.

The + adjective = plural noun

  • blind, 
  • deaf, 
  • disabled, 
  • healthy/sick, 
  • living/dead, 
  • rich/poor, 
  • unemployed, 
  • the destitute, 
  • the needy, etc.

Take a plural verb and the pronoun is they:

The poor get poorer; the rich get richer.

The unemployed are striking.

Colours take s like nouns: 

  • the blacks, 
  • the whites, 
  • the greys (horses).

The + adjective = a singular noun

the accused (person) 

the unexpected (thing) 

the unknown 

the wild 

the inevitable

Adjectives + one/ones

One replaces a previously mentioned singular noun.

Ones replaces a previously mentioned plural noun.

Don't buy the expensive pears, get the cheaper ones.

Hard mattresses are healthier than soft ones.

I lost my new camera; this is an old one.

If you haven't got a big bowl, two small ones will do.

First / second / third / fourth one / ones

Which train did you catch? ~ I caught the first (one).

Which paragraph will you skip? The last (one).

The + superlative one

Tom is the best one (runner).

The eldest one (boy) was only ten.

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