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Adjectives and Adverbs


Introduction

Adjectives and adverbs are called modifiers because they modify or change the quality of other words. Understanding how modifiers function in English sentences can help you build better sentences.

Adjectives tell us more about nouns or pronouns. They can be

  • single words, placed before the noun (e.g. The tallman in the corner is my brother) or after a linking verb, such as is, become, appear, seem, feel, sound (e.g. The man is tall). OR
  • clauses (who/which-that-clauses), placed after the noun (e.g. The building, which is about a hundred years old, will be pulled down.) (These are covered in the Sentence Structure unit.)

Adverbs tell us more about the verbs, e.g. The new minister dresses neatly;

                                              adjectives, e.g. My brother is very tall); and

                                              other adverbs, e.g. They worked extremely quickly.)

Open the file below. Study the two versions of the same source text, paying careful attention to the underlined adjectives and adverbs and their positions in Version 2. Think about the effect of the addition of these modifiers on the quality of the information.


Adjectives and adverbs   [open in new window|view inline]

How well do you use adjectives and adverbs?

Select either the adverb or adjective to complete each of the following sentences.

1. The minister's great contribution to his electorate was recognised in this year's Honour's list.

2. In writing his first collection of poems, Adam Smith was greatly influenced by the poets of the nineteenth century.

3. Studying in New Zealand is a huge challenge for many international students.

4. Studying in New Zealand is hugely challenging for many international students.

5. The man in the witness stand looked anxiously around the court-room.

6. The man in the witness stand seemed anxious .

7. The student worked hard to put himself through university.

8. This is a hard question to answer.

9. The new arrivals have settled really well into New Zealand lifestyle and culture.

10. Model 21X is cheaper than Model 22X.

11. Our society is fast becoming a nation fed on canned food.

12. The film was boring and I was bored

Main problems of use

The 12 sentences in the Quiz summarise the main problems related to the use of adjectives and adverbs. You may not have a problem recognising adjectives, but may form adjectives incorrectly.

Regular adjectives can be formed by adding suffixes (endings) to nouns or verbs. Study the underlined adjectives in the following review of a book, paying careful attention to the suffixes in bold:

Focus on Composition by Ann Raimesis an exceptional and innovative composition textbook. Its brilliant and imaginative design and the philosophical theory implicit within it make it a desperately needed book. Its interesting approach to teaching controlled composition, which combines both syntactic and rhetoricalfoci in each lesson and provides intellectual content and challenge, is very successful indeed. Its remarkable appeal also stems from the variety of materials it uses to stimulate thought and writing: reproductions of art, literature, popular culture, journalism and science.

Other adjective suffixes include: dependent; important; Asian; famous

Look out for the following troublespots: 


Adjectives and adverbs - troublespots   [open in new window|view inline]

Practice

Select the adjective or adverb to complete each sentence.

1. The company is facing stiff competition but this does not _________________ mean that it will not survive.

2. Scholarships are available for ______________ underprivileged students.

3. The _____________ government is facing tough times.

4. The increase in oil prices is _______________.

5. The price of oil will _____________ increase following the recent crisis.

6. The man was _____________ understanding about the accident.

7. New Zealand is regarded as a _____________ country to live in.

8. Nurses and doctors are in _____________ demand.

9. The University of Auckland debating team did really _____________ in the Inter-University Debating Championship event last year.


10. The team is developing __________________ advanced gadgets which use fourth generation robots.

-ed or -ing adjectives.

Complete each short text with the correct adjective form from the drop-down options.

1  The recent political crisis in the country is most disturbing . It is surprising and indeed disappointing that the international community has not been able to effect any control over the situation. People everywhere are shocked and confused . The consequences of any anti-action could be terrifying . For the past few weeks, there has been an interesting chain of events taking place. The university students are amazed at the speed in which new policies have been passed. 

2  After an exhausting deliberation, the jury finally delivered a verdict of NOT GUILTY. The prosecution was not amused .The whole trial has been a frustrating one for award-winning lawyer, Don Leeman.

3  The counsellor's remarks were embarrassing . The other members on the Council were very embarrassed . It was also embarrassing for the government. In fact, this counsellor has made a lot of embarrassing comments in the last two weeks.The embarrassed counsellor apologised formally to the Council and his colleagues.

Same form adverbs and adjectives.

Read each sentence and decide if each bolded word is an adverb or adjective. Pay careful attention to the placement of the modifier.

1   The politicians debated late into the night. adverb

2   They had a late lunch at the hotel. adjective

3   The new students were given a fast tour of the new IT block. adjective

4   Society is fast becoming a nation fed on canned food. adverb

5   Which one do you like best: the red, blue or green? adverb

6   This is one of the best proposals that the government has put forward so far. adjective

7   The yearly conference is an important event in the university calendar. adjective

8   The conference is held yearly at the University of Auckland. adverb

9   She does not feel well and has gone home. adjective

10  The method has worked well in the past. adverb  

11  He left the door wide open. adverb

12  The college library has a wide variety of resources. adjective

Word Order and Irregular Forms

Order of Adjectives

In most cases, adjectives are placed before nouns. The problem of order arises when you want to use more than one adjective to modify a noun. Which of the following sounds more natural to you?

      a. I bought a small blue Apple laptop yesterday.

      b. I bought a small Apple blue laptop yesterday.

      c. I bought a blue small Apple laptop yesterday.

 

The most natural order is Sentence (a). The rules can be quite complicated and there may be some variations.

Click for a web link to one possible Order of Adjectives.

Here it is again in a simple chart with some examples:

Article
Number
Determiner

OpinionSizeShapeAgeColourOriginMaterialPurposeNoun
 1. three  largerount     watering containers 
 2. a  dirty  old  Chinese silk  rug 
 3. a small   blue Apple    laptop

 

Order of Adverbs: some general guidelines

Adverbs of manner (asks 'how'?): placed after the main verb or entire expression, e.g. The lecturer speaks slowly. (Exception: In two-part verbs like passive forms, the adverb is inserted between the verb 'be' and the past participle, e.g. The house was badly damaged by the hurricane.)

Adverb of degree (asks 'how much'?): placed before the adverb or adjective, e.g. The lecturer speaks very/extremely slowly, but his lectures are hugely popular.

Adverbs of time (asks 'when'?): placed after the main verb or entire expression, e.g. The lecture will be held tomorrow.

Adverbs of frequency (asks 'how often'?): placed before the main verb, e.g. He often/sometimes/usually/never goes to bed late. (Exceptions: in two-part verbs, the adverb is usually placed between the verb 'be' and the main verb, e.g. He has never forgiven his brother.)

Adverbs of comment: placed at the beginning of a sentence, e.g. Unfortunately, he arrived too late for the meeting; Not surprisingly, the proposal met with hostile reactions; Clearly, it is important for a solution to be found quickly.

Practice

box black Turkish small trinket
1
 
 
 
 
 

red some smart casual leather Italian armchairs
2
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

industrial several cities middle-sized
3
 
 
 
 

pot cooking ceramic ancient an Chinese
4
 
 
 
 
 
 

out-dated resources numerous print library
5
 
 
 
 
 

Rewrite each sentence by inserting the adverb in brackets appropriately.

1. Former Prime Minister Helen Clarke maintained that her government had delivered on its election promises. (always)

2. There is anyone around. (hardly)

3. Oil prices have fallen under $2 a gallon for the last five years. (never)

4. The visitors were welcomed onto the marae. (warmly)

5. The house has been destroyed by the fire. (completely)

6. Over 500 people were tested for the disease over a three-year period. (regularly)

7. Donations are managed by the Family Trust. (carefully)

8. An alternative solution is required. (clearly)

9. The politicians go to Bellamy's for lunch. (often)

10. In New Zealand, libraries are located in every suburb. (conveniently)


      

[Show answer]

Suggested answers:

1. Former Prime Minister Helen Clarke always maintained that her government had delivered on its election promises.

2. There is hardly anyone around.

3. Oil prices have never fallen under $2 a gallon for five years.

4. The visitors were warmly welcomed onto the marae.

5. The house has been completely destroyed by the fire.

6. Over 500 people were regularly tested for the disease over a three-year period.

7. Donations are carefully managed by the Family Trust.

8.  Clearly, an alternative solution is required. (Adverb of comment) OR An alternative solution is clearly required. (Adverb of degree)

9. The politicians often go to Bellamy's for lunch.

10. In New Zealand, libraries are conveniently located in every suburb.


Challenge Tasks

Change the words in brackets to adjectives or adverbs to complete the film review.
 
 
A film review of Crazy Heart 
  
There is a (power) powerful symmetry at work in Crazy Heart that is impossible to resist. It is a parallel between the protagonist Bad Blake, a country singer whose (destroy) destructive lifestyle has led him to the point of disintegration, and star Jeff Bridges, whose (exception) exceptional film choices have (definite) definitely made him a virtual certainty to win his first Oscar. The film succeeds (beauty) beautifully despite its (convention) conventional depiction of an (age) aging and (alcohol) alcoholic country musician on a downward spiral into an early grave. 
 
The story-line lacks originality, but Jeff Bridges' performance is (high) highly (watch) watchable . In addition, the New Mexico desert setting is (shock) shockingly (beauty) beautiful

- Summarised from different reviews found in www.imdb.com

Correct any faulty use of adjectives or adverbs in the bolded expressions.

Review 1

The book is a departure from convention international student handbooks, which tend to be written for students who will be attending a particular institution in one country and mainly focuses on the practical aspects of living and studying there. By contrast, this book is written in a generic way and has a strongly language focus. clearly rationale for the authors' purpose and target users of the handbook is outlined in the blurb on the back cover. The authors' approach to learning pathways is both innovative and immediately engage. What makes the book access, despite its ambitious coverage, is its clear language and presentation. The content is well-suited to a target audience of young adult learners generally who may be preparing for further academic study. The student text is attractively presented and clear laid out. It will sure appeal to students. I highly would recommend this book for its amazingly comprehensive coverage and its student-centre approach to learning.  Priced at only $34.95, it is a real good buy for those heading for overseas study.

 

Review 2

This most recently book in the Oxford Handbooks for Language teachers series covers many bases. Much of the content includes reading processes and skills as the starting point for discussing the more specifically case of second language readers and their teachers . . . Appropriate for a book about reading, the content includes plenty of previewing and reviewing of topics both within chapters and throughout the text . . . Despite its approach scholarly, there is an emphasis on what teachers can do. In some chapters the instruction implications sections encourage teachers to do the application.

Issues of particular interest to teachers of second language reading start in chapter 3.  Chapter 4, "Reading skills," becomes even more specifically. Amongst other points Hudson addresses the difficulty of using what we know about first language reading as the start point for describing subskills for second language readers.

Modified from: Lewis, M. (2007). [Review of the book Teaching second language reading by T. Hudson]. The TESOLANZ Journal, 12, 109-110. 

 


      

[Show answer]

Corrections in italics

Review 1

The book is a departure from conventional international student handbooks, which tend to be written for students who will be attending a particular institution in one country and mainly focus on the practical aspects of living and studying there. By contrast, this book is written in a generic way and has a strong language focus. A clear rationale for the authors' purpose and target users of the handbook is outlined in the blurb on the back cover. The authors' approach to learning pathways is both innovative and immediately engaging. What makes the book accessible, despite its ambitious coverage, is its clear language and presentation.The content is well-suited to a target audience of young adult learners who generally (word order) may be preparing for further academic study. The student text is attractively presented and clearly laid out. It will surely appeal to students. I would highly (word order) recommend this book for its amazingly comprehensive coverage and its student-centred approach to learning.  Priced at only $34.95, it is a really good buy for those heading for overseas study.

 

Review 2

This most recent book in the Oxford Handbooks for Language teachers series covers many bases. Much of the content includes reading processes and skills as the starting point for discussing the more specific case of second language readers and their treachers...Appropriately for a book about reading, the content includes plenty of previewing and reviewing of topics both within chapters and throughout the text....Despite its scholarly approach, (word order) there is an emphasis on what teachers can do. In some chapters the instructional implications sections encourage teachers to do the application.

Issues of particular interest to teachers of second language reading start in chapter 3.  Chapter 4, "Reading skills," becomes even more specific. Amongst other points Hudson addresses the difficulty of using what we know about first language reading as the starting point for describing subskills for second language readers. 


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