Adjectives add information to or describe a noun.

  • Comparative forms end in –er or are preceded by “more”.
  • Superlatives end in –est or are preceded by “the most”.

Note: ‘more’ or ‘the most’ are not the comparative/superlative on their own – you have to quote the base adjective too, just like you wouldn’t only quote the ‘er’ or ‘est’ bit of a shorter adjective (i.e. ‘more clever’, ‘better’ or ‘the most awful’, ‘the tallest’ will get you the marks; just ‘more’ or ‘most’ won’t).

  • Compound adjectives are formed by 2 or more adjectives together: bright blue.
  • Other word classes can be used as adjectives, e.g. nouns (boyfriend jeans); perfective verbs (frightened tourists); progressive verbs (infuriating sister).

There are also ways of describing different kinds of adjective semantically, i.e. according to their meaning:

  • Descriptive adjectives simply provide information: the thin boy
  • Evaluative adjectives describe things in a way that also provides a judgement about them (this can be negative or positive): the gangly boy
  • Emotive adjectives are intended to provoke an emotional reaction from the audience: the anorexic-looking boy

Note that it is often possible to describe the same adjective as ‘evaluative’ and ‘emotive’.  That’s the problem with semantic categories – we may all react slightly differently to the same words.  Don’t spend too long wondering whether a word is ‘evaluative’ or ‘emotive’ – just pick one! (and justify it in your analytical comment).