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Adjective


In linguistics, an adjective (abbreviated adj) is a describing word, the main syntactic role of which is to qualify a noun or noun phrase, giving more information about the object signified.

Adjectives are one of the English parts of speech, although historically they were classed together with the nouns. Certain words that were traditionally considered to be adjectives, including the, this, my, etc., are today usually classed separately, as determiners.

Adjective comes from Latin (nōmen) adjectīvum "additional (noun)", a calque of Ancient Greek: ἐπίθετον (ὄνομα) epítheton (ónoma) "additional (noun)". In the grammatical tradition of Latin and Greek, because adjectives were inflected for gender, number, and case like nouns (a process called declension), they were considered a subtype of noun. The words that are today typically called nouns were then called substantive nouns (nōmen substantīvum). The terms noun substantive and noun adjective were formerly used in English, until the word noun came to refer only to the former type, and the second type came to be known simply as adjectives.

A given occurrence of an adjective can generally be classified into one of three kinds of use:

Adjectives feature as a part of speech (word class) in most languages. In some languages, the words that serve the semantic function of adjectives may be categorized together with some other class, such as nouns or verbs. For example, rather than an adjective meaning "big", a language might have a verb that means "to be big", and could then use an attributive verb construction analogous to "big-being house" to express what English expresses as "big house". Such an analysis is possible for the grammar of Standard Chinese, for example.



Eine kluge neue Idee.
A clever new idea.
Eine klug ausgereifte Idee.
A cleverly developed idea.
A clever new idea.
A cleverly developed idea.
"great", "greater", "greatest"
"deep, "deeper", "deepest"
"good", "better", "best"
"bad", "worse", "worst"
"many", "more", "most" (sometimes regarded as an adverb or determiner)
"little", "less", "least"
"old", "older", "oldest"
"far", "farther", "farthest"
"old", "elder", "eldest"
"far", "further", "furthest"
"He was a lazy sort, who would avoid a difficult task and fill his working hours with easy ones."
"difficult" is restrictive - it tells us which tasks he avoids, distinguishing these from the easy ones: "Only those tasks that are difficult".
"She had the job of sorting out the mess left by her predecessor, and she performed this difficult task with great acumen."
"difficult" is non-restrictive - we already know which task it was, but the adjective describes it more fully: "The aforementioned task, which (by the way) is difficult"
"difficult" is restrictive - it tells us which tasks he avoids, distinguishing these from the easy ones: "Only those tasks that are difficult".
"difficult" is non-restrictive - we already know which task it was, but the adjective describes it more fully: "The aforementioned task, which (by the way) is difficult"
puella bona (good girl, feminine singular nominative)
puellam bonam (good girl, feminine singular accusative/object case)
puer bonus (good boy, masculine singular nominative)
pueri boni (good boys, masculine plural nominative)
buachaill maith (good boy, masculine)
girseach mhaith (good girl, feminine)
The good (Ø) boys. The boys are good (Ø).
Les bons garçons. Les garçons sont bons.
Die braven Jungen. Die Jungen sind brav (Ø).
A jó (Ø) fiúk. A fiúk jók.
  • Dixon, R. M. W. (1977). "Where have all the adjectives gone?". Studies in Language. 1: 19–80. doi:10.1075/sl.1.1.04dix. 
  • Dixon, R. M. W.; R. E. Asher (Editor) (1993). The Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (1st ed.). Pergamon Press Inc. pp. 29–35. ISBN . 
  • Dixon, R. M. W. (1999). Adjectives. In K. Brown & T. Miller (Eds.), Concise encyclopedia of grammatical categories (pp. 1–8). Amsterdam: Elsevier. .
  • Warren, Beatrice. (1984). Classifying adjectives. Gothenburg studies in English (No. 56). Göteborg: Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis. .
  • Wierzbicka, Anna (1986). "What's in a noun? (or: How do nouns differ in meaning from adjectives?)". Studies in Language. 10 (2): 353–389. doi:10.1075/sl.10.2.05wie. 
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