Introduction to Reading English/Adjectives

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Adjectives[edit]

Adjectives are words that describe nouns.

Syntax[edit]

In English, adjectives go before nouns, for example 'The black cat.'

Gradable and non-gradable[edit]

Adjectives are generally gradable or non-gradable. Gradable adjectives can take the word "very", but not the words "completely" or "absolutely", whereas non-gradable adjectives are the reverse: they sound strange with the word "very" and do take the words "absolutely" or "completely."

Gradable Non-gradable
very cold completely cold
very freezing absolutely freezing

Examples of gradable and non-gradable adjective pairs:

Gradable Non-gradable
hot scorching
good perfect
bad awful
funny hilarious
interesting fascinating

Choosing a gradable or non-gradable adjective can change the force of your language, which is important for example for communicating your feelings when giving praise or making complaints, or for using exaggeration to make a story more interesting.