Adjectives 1


In grammar, an adjective is a word whose main syntactic role is to modify a noun or pronoun, giving more information about the noun or pronoun’s definition. Some examples can be seen in the box to the right. Collectively, adjectives form one of the traditional English eight parts of speech, though linguists today distinguish adjectives from words such as determiners that also used to be considered adjectives.

Not all languages have adjectives, but most, including English, do. (English adjectives include big, old, and tired, among many others.) Those that do not, typically use words of another part of speech, often verbs, to serve the same semantic function; for example, such a language might have a verb that means “to be big”, and would use a construction analogous to “big-being house” to express what English expresses as “big house”. Even in languages that do have adjectives, one language’s adjective might not be another’s; for example, while English uses “to be hungry” (hungry being an adjective), French uses “avoir faim” (literally “to have hunger”), and where Hebrew uses the adjective “זקוק” (zaqūq, roughly “in need of”), English uses the verb “to need”.

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