Module5. Structural and functional grammar


Lesson 24


24.1  Introduction

Adjectives modify--describe or limit – nouns, pronouns, and word groups functioning as nouns.                 

She is a beautiful girl.

There are fifty boys in this class.

The flowering trees were beautiful.

24.2  Kinds of Adjectives

The main kinds of adjectives are:

a)     Demonstrative – this, that, these, those

b)    Distributive – each, every, either, neither

c)     Quantitative – some, any, no, little/few, many, much

d)    Relative– which, what, whose, whatever, whichever, whosoever

e)     Interrogative – which, what, whose

f)      Possessive – my, your, his, her, its, our, your, their

g)     Adjectives of Quality – clever, dry, fat, golden

24.2.1  Participles used as adjectives

Both present participles (ing) and past participles (ed) can be used as adjectives.

Present participle adjectives amusing, boring, tiring etc are active and mean ‘having this effect”.

Past participle adjectives amused, bored, tired are passive and mean ‘affected in this way”.

an infuriating woman (She made us furious)

an infuriated woman (Something had made her furious)

24.3  Position of Adjectives

       a)    Adjective of quality usually comes before their nouns:

            a rich man     a happy girl

       b)    In certain phrases, the Adjective of quality comes after the  nouns:

            Heir apparent                time immemorial           notary public

            God Almighty               viceroy elect

       c)     After linking verbs such as – be, become, seem

                        Jagdish became rich.       His mother seems happy.

       d)    After verb such as – appear, feel, get/grow, keep, look, make,     smell, sound,     taste, turn. Verbs used in this way are called Link verbs.

                       Mohan felt cold.               He made her happy.

                        He grew impatient.          The idea sounds interesting.

Adjectives in this position are called Predicative Adjectives.

       e)     A Problem with verbs as in (d) above is that they can also be modified by adverbs. This confuses the student, who tries to use adverb instead of adjectives after link verbs. Following examples with adjectives and adverbs help to show the different uses:

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

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

            The drink tasted horrible. (adj.) = (It had a horrible taste)

            He tasted the drink suspiciously. (adv.) = (tasted here is a deliberate action)

24.4  Comparison of Adjectives

      a)    There are three degrees of comparison:

              Positive           Comparative        Superlative

              dark                 darker                     darkest

              useful               more useful          most useful

      b)    One-syllable adjectives form their comparative and superlative degrees by adding er and est  to the positive form:

              bright               brighter                brightest

            Adjectives ending in e add r and st:

              brave               braver                   bravest

      c)     Adjectives of three or more syllables form their comparative and superlative degrees by putting more and  most before the positive:

              Interested         more interested      most interested

             frightening       more frightening    most frightening

      d)    Adjectives of two syllables follow one or other of the above rules. Those ending in ful or re usually take more and most:

              Doubtful         more doubtful        most doubtful

              Obscure          more obscure         most obscure

            Those ending in er, y, or ly usually add er, est:

               clever              cleverer                 cleverest

               pretty             rettier                   prettiest

               silly                sillier                    silliest

24.5  Constructions with Comparisons

      a)    With the positive form of the adjective, we use as…as in the affirmative and not as/not so…as in the negative

              A boy of sixteen is often as tall as his father.

              Coffee is not as/so good as my mother makes it.

b)    With comparative, we use than

             He makes fewer mistakes than you (do).

             It was more expensive than I thought.

Do’s and Don’ts of the use of Adjectives

     a)   Do not use an adjective in the comparative degree when no comparison expressed or implied is made.

          He is a more intelligent student in the class. (Wrong)

          He is a very intelligent student.    (Right)


          He is the most intelligent student in the class. (Right)

b)     Following are not compared, nor can most be used with them.

Perfect, unique, full, infinite, chief, perceptual, extreme, ideal, entire, complete,  universal, empty, impossible, preferable, unanimous, square, round, golden etc. 

He is more perfect than his brother.

(Wrong- Perfect expresses the    quality to the utmost extent.)          

          He is perfect.

      c)     The comparative adjectives, superior, inferior, senior,  junior, prior, anterior, posterior, prefer, preferable are followed by to instead of than:

He is senior to me. (not ‘than me’).

d)      Avoid double comparatives.

It is rather more important.  (Wrong.  The word rather is comparative)

It is rather important. 


It is more important.

His brother is a more better singer than he. (wrong)

     His brother is a better singer than he.

      e)     When two persons or two things are compared, it is important to see that the comparison is restricted to the only two that are compared.

The population of India is greater than the U. S. A. (wrong).

The population of India is greater than that of the U. S. A . (Right)

Use than that of; otherwise your sentence will give the impression   that you are comparing Indian Population with the U. S. A., a country).

      f)      When a comparison is introduced, followed by than, the thing compared must always be excluded from the class of things with which it is compared, by using other. For example,

Delhi is larger than any city in India.  (Wrong)

Delhi is larger than any other city in India. (Right)

g)     Do not use other or any in the superlative degree. For example,

He is the wisest of all other students in his class. (Wrong)

He is the wisest of all. (Right)

      h)     Use an adjective of the superlative degree, only when the noun it qualifies indicates the possession of a quality to a higher degree than other member of the same class.

He wrote the best book.  (Wrong)

He wrote an excellent book.

     i)    An adjective in the superlative degree normally takes the and not a or   an before it.

This is a worst example of incompetence I have ever come across.   (Wrong)

This is the worst example of incompetence I have ever come across.    (Right)

j)     When two adjectives refer to the same noun and one of them is in the superlative degree, the other must also be in the superlative degree. The same is the case with the comparatives.

He is the best and honest minister in Parliament.  (Wrong). 

He is the best and the most honest minister in Parliament.  (Right)

He is both charitable and richer than you.  (Wrong)

He is both richer and more charitable than you. (Right)

k)     The two first is a meaningless expression, for it implies two things may be first. So is the two last.

The two first chapters of the novel are dull. (Wrong)

The first two chapters of the novel are dull. (Right)

l)     Use some in affirmative sentences and any in negative and  interrogative sentences:

I shall buy some books.  (not any)

I shall not buy any books.  (not some)

Have you bought any book?  (not some)

m)  Later and latest refer to time.  latter and last refer to position:

          He came latter than I. (Wrong) 

          He came later than I. (Right)

          Between these two books the later is more interesting.  (Wrong)

          Between these two books the latter is more interesting.   (Right)

n)    Farther means more distant or advanced, further means additional.

Calcutta is farther (not further) from the equator than Colombo.

After this, he made no further (not farther) remarks,

o)  Older and oldest may be used for persons or things, but elder and eldest apply to persons only. They are chiefly used for comparisons within a family.

He will inherit the property after death of his elder (not older) brother.

He is the oldest (not eldest) inhabitant of this village.

My brother is elder to (not than) me.

p)  little, a little and the little are correctly used as follows:

There is little hope of recovery. (not likely to recover) (hardly any hope).

There is a little hope of recovery. (may possibly recover).

            Do not waste the little energy you possess. (the small amount, whatever it is).

q)  few, a few and the few are correctly used as follows:

Few women can keep a secret.  (Hardly any woman can keep a secret).

A few were present.  (Some were present).

            The few members who came for the show had to return disappointed.  (not many, but whoever there was).

r)   less refers to quantity, whereas fewer denote number. For example,

No less than fifty persons were killed in the accident.  (Wrong).

No fewer than fifty persons were killed in the accident.  (Right)

We do not buy fewer than one litre of milk.   (Wrong)

We do not buy less than one litre of milk. (Right)