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The adjective(Function, comparison, intensification)

The adjective is a notional word which denotes a quality or a state of a substance.


• simple adjectives — old, cold, late;

• derived adjectives — understandable, musical, documentary, beaded, wooden, icturesque,

• compound adjectives — grass-green ,deaf-mute, well-known, heart-breaking, fair-haired


Semantically adjectives fall into two groups: qualitative and relative.

Qualitative adjectives denote properties of a substance directly: great, cold, beautiful. According to their meaning they may be further classified as descriptive and limiting. Descriptive adjectives denote a quality in a broad sense: cold, light, wonderful. Limiting adjectives denote a category, a section of a whole, a number, i.e. specifying the substance (noun): the previous page, an equestrian statue, medical aid, the left hand, several pages.

Relative adjectives describe properties of a substance through relation to material (woollen, wooden, feathery), time (daily, weekly, monthly), place (Northern, European, Italian), some action (defensive, preparatory). Relative adjectives are limiting in their meaning.


1) In a few cases the meaning of the adjective depends on its position in the clause. Cf.: George was late. (= he was not in time for something) and The late George Lamb (=George Lamb, who is dead now).


The only grammatical category of some adjectives is that of the degrees of comparison. In this respect they fall into gradable (possessing the degrees of comparison) and non-gradable.

The group of gradable adjectives is constituted by descriptive qualitative adjectives, which can be modified by adverbials of degree and the meaning of which is compatible with the idea of gradation of quality..

Non-gradable adjectives admit no comparison on account of their meaning: perfect, unique, full, empty, round, wooden, daily, upper, etc.

The following adjectives do not form degrees of comparison:

• limiting qualitative adjectives: dead, medical, middle, etc.;

• relative adjectives: wooden, plastic, rubber if, ashen, etc.;

• adjectives with comparative and superlative meaning, these

are mainly loan words of Latin origin: former, inner, upper,

junior, senior, prior, proximal, superior, etc.

• adjectives denoting some gradation of quality — darkish, greenish, etc.


There are three degrees of comparison: positive (sometimes called 'absolute'), comparative and superlative. And there are three ways of forming the comparative and superlative degrees: synthetic (when an inflection is added to the stem), analytic (with the help of word morphemes, also known as auxiliaries) and suppletive (when a form is built from a different stem).

Adjectives forming their degrees of comparison in a

synthetic way are:

• monosyllabic: great —greater —greatest

• disyllabic: — ending in ~y lovely ~ow narrow ~le simple ~er clever

II. Analytic: Positive = adjective

Comparative = more + adjective Superlative = most + adjective

Adjectives forming their degrees of comparison in an analytic way are:

disyllabic adjectives:

adjectives of more than two syllables: derived adjectives:

careful — more careful —most careful

personal —more personal —most personal

III. Suppletive (irregular adjectives):

good — better — best; bad — worse — worst; little — less — least; many — more — most;

Some adjectives have two forms of a comparative and/or superlative degree which differ in meaning and use.


Compound adjectives can change for comparison in two ways: • the first element can be marked for comparison if it is an adjective with suppletive forms or adverb; this way is regular mainly with well-: well-known — better-known — best-known also notice: a wider-eyed / bigger-eyed

• an analytic way with more and most is' the most typical way of forming degrees of comparison: kind-hearted — more kind-hearted — most kind-hearted.


Adjectives and adverbs can be qualified by adding an adverb as an. intensifier or as a downtoner.

Intensifiers either convey emphasis or denote a high degree of quality. The commonest of them is very but there is a wide choice of intensifiers, both formal and informal. Some of them indicate the highest degree of intensification: absolutely, totally, utterly, quite, completely, very, extremely, really, much, a great deal, a lot. Others just slightly intensify the meaning of the adjective: quite, somewhat, jolly, pretty, rather, etc.

Downtoners, like fairly, a bit, a little bit, a little, slightly, rather, somewhat, etc., suggest an incomplete or low degree of quality, decrease the effect of the word they modify and are used with adjectives and adverbs in the Positive or Comparative degree. He is rather clever. She seems somewhat more excited than she was yesterday.

The choice of an intensifier is linked to the context and the meaning of the adjective. In this respect adjectives fall into two broad groups:

• ungradable adjectives like wonderful, perfect, delightful, tiny,

sure, enormous, certain, dismayed, minute, petrified, etc. They

cannot be used with very, as they already mean very ... (e.g.

enormous means very big). Nor can they be used in a comparative

sense. Sometimes they are called 'absolute' due to their meaning.

• gradable adjectives like bad, warm, easy, big, lucky,

disappointed, pleasant, frightened, shy, etc. These are not used

with '100%' intensifiers such as absolutely, totally, etc. They

may be called 'non-absolute'.Different intensifiers tend to be used with different degrees of comparison. They usually precede the adjective they modify, still there are a few cases when they follow the adjective (these are marked *).

0 with the Positive degree

very It's very awkward.

ever so The book is ever so interesting.

too Everybody would be only too glad to see you.

far too It's far too expensive.

(a) most The 5th Symphony by Tchaikovsky is a most

beautiful piece of music. Everybody's been most kind.

that Are things that bad with you?

repetition of the intensifier or of the Adj / agree with every word you've said — every single word. You bad, bad boy. It's very, very bad.

0 with the Comparative degree

much, a lot, lots This is a lot better. This is lots more interesting.

a great deal The performance proved to be a great deal

a good deal better than I could ever expect,

a good bit A good bit greater fortune couldn't have impressed him.

still The first edition is good, the new one is still better.

Adj + and + Adj The sound grew fainter and fainter.

0 with the Superlative degree

by far 'The Swan Lake' is by far the best ballet

we have. *Adj+N+ possible It's difficult to go about in the wrongest

way possible. (or other adjectives in -able or -ible: accessible, available,

capable, imaginable, etc.)

the very She put on her very best dress.



There are a number of intensifiers specific to a particular adjective. These are known as common collocations.

He is bone idle and won't do a

stroke of work.

She is fully conversant with

the problems.

I slept like a log and now Fm

wide awake.

The cake is rock hard!

Ssh. The baby's fast asleep at last!

The boss has got a brand new car again


Date: 2015-12-11; view: 3174

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