Adjectives: Descriptive

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These types of adjectives add detail or description to the noun.

[In the following examples, the adjective is bold and the noun is underlined.]

When Tennessee and Connecticut first met in women’s basketball in 1995, it was a nice made-for-TV game between an established power and one on the rise.

  • NICE describes the predicate nominative GAME and ESTABLISHED describes POWER, which is the object of the preposition BETWEEN.
  • Note: In this sentence, ESTABLISHED is also a participle.

The tall man thought he could reach the top shelf of the bookcase.

  • TALL describes the subject MAN and TOP describes the direct object SHELF.After the difficult surgery, the famous doctors to a nap.
  • DIFFICULT modifies the object of the preposition SURGERY and FAMOUS describes the subject DOCTOR.

A worthwhile rivalry had been born.

  • WORTHWHILE describes the subject RIVALRY.

Monica said, “Wow, this is a great game.”

  • GREAT describes the predicate nominative GAME.

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  1. Graham says

    Does anyone know if there is a name for a particular type of adjective; one that was not originally needed, until changes in the world deemed it so?

    An example. If we could find one, we would describe television that only showed monochrome pictures as a BLACK AND WHITE television. But that prefix was not needed until colour television was invented.

    Similarly, we would now refer to an original Pentax or Nikon camera (just two examples) as FILM cameras. But we did not need to used the adjective FILM until digital cameras were the norm.

    I am pretty sure there is a particular term for such a word, but can’t for the life of me remember.

  2. says

    These are probably best categorized as relational adjectives. They classify the noun. For example, sauce pan vs sauté pan or medical instrument vs musical instrument.

    A bit more
    A relational adjective provides an attribute, but doesn’t typically work comfortably in the predicate position (the pan is sauce) or for comparison (a more medical instrument, the most sauté pan). Relational adjectives are most often tied to nouns without suffixes (a horror movie), which makes them relatively easy to spot.
    Note that the noun itself does not determine the adjective type. For example: Scary movie (qualitative) vs horror movie (relational).

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