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Lecture 12 Adjectives and Adverbs

Teaching hours: 2
Teaching aims:
1. The student will know the basic functions of adjectives and adverbs.
2. They will know how to form and understand the comparative and superlative adjectives and
Key points of teaching: types, positions and the functions of adjectives and adverbs; the
construction & usage of the comparative degree and superlative degree
Teaching contents:
I. Adjectives
Adjectives are words that describe or modify another person or thing in the sentence.
1. Proper adjectives
Proper adjectives are adjectives derived from proper nouns. In English, proper adjectives
must begin with a capital letter. The proper adjectives in the following sentences are underlined.
e.g. The French town has an interesting history.
Many of my friends are American.
This house is a fine example of Victorian architecture.
2. Attributive adjectives
Adjectives which precede the noun they modify are usually referred to as attributive
adjectives. For instance, in the following examples, the attributive adjectives are underlined.
e.g. Heavy rain is expected.
We saw white swans on the river.
Usual Order of Attributive Adjectives
1) certain determiners such as all, both and half
2) determiners including the articles a, and the;
possessive adjectives e.g. my, his, her, our and their;
demonstrative adjectives e.g. that, these, this, and those; and certain other determiners such as
another, any, each, either, enough, every, neither, no, some, what and which
3) cardinal numbers e.g. one, two, three; and
certain other determiners such as few, many and several
4) determiners such as fewer, fewest, least, less, more and most
5) general descriptive adjectives, often in the following order:
a) adjectives indicating size e.g. large, long, narrow
b) adjectives indicating weight e.g. heavy, light
c) participles and other adjectives e.g. clever, excited, interesting
d) adjectives indicating temperature e.g. cold, hot, warm
e) adjectives indicating humidity e.g. dry, damp, wet
f) adjectives indicating age e.g. new, six-month-old, young
g) adjectives indicating shape e.g. barrel-shaped, round, square
6) adjectives indicating color e.g. blue, grey, white
7) adjectives indicating materials e.g. cloth, leather, metal
8) proper adjectives e.g. American, Victorian
9) defining adjectives, usually indicating purpose, method of operation, location, time or
categories of people
e.g. a small, heavy, snug, warm, 100-year-old, round-bellied black iron Norwegian wood stove
Furthermore, when adjectives belong to the same class, they become what we call coordinated
adjectives, and you will want to put a comma between them: the inexpensive, comfortable shoes.
The rule for inserting the comma works this way: if you could have inserted a conjunction — and
or but — between the two adjectives, use a comma. We could say these are "inexpensive but
comfortable shoes," so we would use a comma between them (when the "but" isn't there). When
you have three coordinated adjectives, separate them all with commas, but don't insert a comma
between the last adjective and the noun (in spite of the temptation to do so because you often
pause there):
a popular, respected, and good looking student
3. Predicate adjectives
a. Attributive adjectives which can be used as predicate adjectives
An adjective which is separated from the noun or pronoun it modifies by a verb is often referred to
as a predicate adjective.
e.g. The horse is black.
The streets are long and narrow.
It is large, heavy and awkward.
In these examples, the adjective black modifies the noun horse. the adjectives long and narrow
modify the noun streets, and the adjectives large, heavy and awkward modify the pronoun it.
Most general descriptive adjectives, as well as adjectives indicating color, can be used as predicate
adjectives. In the following examples, the predicate adjectives are underlined.
e.g. The answer is puzzling.
The weather will be cool and dry.
The leaves are red, yellow and orange.
However, there are a few general descriptive adjectives which cannot be used as predicate
adjectives. For example, the adjectives listed below are normally used only as attributive
chief, main, principal, sheer, utter
It should be noted that although they cannot be used with attributive adjectives, pronouns can be
used with predicate adjectives.
e.g. He is happy.
She is proud.
We are careful.
They are successful.
Proper adjectives are sometimes used as predicate adjectives.
e.g. That car is American.
This one is Japanese.
It should be noted that hyphenated adjectives containing nouns often cannot be used as
predicate adjectives. When such an expression follows the verb, the hyphens are omitted and the
noun assumes a plural form, if required. In the following examples, the nouns contained in the
hyphenated adjectives are underlined.
e.g. the two-year-old child
the one-hour program
forty-dollar shoes
When placed after the verb, the hyphenated adjectives must be changed as follows:
e.g. The child is two years old.
The length of the program is one hour.
The price of the shoes is forty dollars.
However, hyphenated adjectives which do not contain nouns can often be used as predicate
adjectives. For instance, in the following examples, the hyphenated adjectives are underlined.
e.g. the long-winded orator
the wide-spread belief
These adjectives contain past participles. Hyphenated adjectives containing past participles are
frequently used as predicate adjectives.
e.g. The orator was long-winded.
The belief is wide-spread.
b. Adjectives which can be used only as predicate adjectives
The following are examples of adjectives with the prefix a- which can be used only as predicate
adjectives, not as attributive adjectives. The prefix a- was formerly a preposition meaning on.
afloat, afraid, aglow, alive, alone, asleep
Degrees of Adjectives
Adjectives can express degrees of modification:
Gladys is a rich woman, but Josie is richer than Gladys, and Sadie is the richest woman in town.
The degrees of comparison are known as the positive, the comparative, and the superlative.
(Actually, only the comparative and superlative show degrees.) We use the comparative for
comparing two things and the superlative for comparing three or more things. Notice that the word
than frequently accompanies the comparative and the word the precedes the superlative. The
inflected suffixes -er and -est suffice to form most comparatives and superlatives, although we
need -ier and -iest when a two-syllable adjective ends in y (happier and happiest); otherwise we
use more and most when an adjective has more than one syllable.
Certain adjectives have irregular forms in the comparative and superlative degrees:
Irregular Comparative and Superlative Forms
good better best
bad worse worst
little less least
many more most
far further furthest
Be careful not to form comparatives or superlatives of adjectives which already express an
extreme of comparison — unique, for instance — although it probably is possible to form
comparative forms of most adjectives: something can be more perfect, and someone can have a
fuller figure. People who argue that one woman cannot be more pregnant than another have never
been nine-months pregnant with twins.
Other adjectives that Garner would include in this list are as follows:
absolute, adequate, chief, complete, devoid, entire, fatal, final, ideal, impossible, inevitable,
irrevocable, main, manifest, minor, paramount, perpetual, preferable, principal, stationary,
sufficient, unanimous, unavoidable, unbroken, unique, universal, whole
Be careful, also, not to use more along with a comparative adjective formed with -er nor to use
most along with a superlative adjective formed with -est (e.g., do not write that something is more
heavier or most heaviest).
The as — as construction is used to create a comparison expressing equality:
He is as foolish as he is large.
She is as bright as her mother.
Premodifiers with Degrees of Adjectives
Both adverbs and adjectives in their comparative and superlative forms can be accompanied by
premodifiers, single words and phrases that intensify the degree.
We were a lot more careful this time.
He works a lot less carefully than the other jeweler in town.
We like his work so much better.
You'll get your watch back all the faster.
The same process can be used to downplay the degree:
The weather this week has been somewhat better.
He approaches his schoolwork a little less industriously than his brother does.
And sometimes a set phrase, usually an informal noun phrase, is used for this purpose:
He arrived a whole lot sooner than we expected.
That's a heck of a lot better.
If the intensifier very accompanies the superlative, a determiner is also required:
She is wearing her very finest outfit for the interview.
They're doing the very best they can.
Occasionally, the comparative or superlative form appears with a determiner and the thing being
modified is understood:
Of all the wines produced in Connecticut, I like this one the most.
The quicker you finish this project, the better.
Of the two brothers, he is by far the faster.
Other Adjectival Considerations
Review the section on Compound Nouns and Modifiers for the formation of modifiers created
when words are connected: a four-year-old child, a nineteenth-century novel, an empty-headed
Review the section on Possessives for a distinction between possessive forms and "adjectival
labels." (Do you belong to a Writers Club or a Writers' Club?)
Adjectives that are really Participles, verb forms with -ing and -ed endings, can be troublesome for
some students. It is one thing to be a frightened child; it is an altogether different matter to be a
frightening child. Do you want to go up to your professor after class and say that you are confused
or that you are confusing? Generally, the -ed ending means that the noun so described ("you") has
a passive relationship with something — something (the subject matter, the presentation) has
bewildered you and you are confused. The -ing ending means that the noun described has a more
active role — you are not making any sense so you are confusing (to others, including your
The -ed ending modifiers are often accompanied by prepositions (these are not the only choices):
We were amazed at all the circus animals.
We were shocked at the level of noise under the big tent.
We were surprised by the fans' response.
We were surprised at their indifference.
We were tired of all the lights after a while.
We were worried about the traffic leaving the parking lot.
A- Adjectives
The most common of the so-called a- adjectives are ablaze, afloat, afraid, aghast, alert, alike, alive,
alone, aloof, ashamed, asleep, averse, awake, aware. These adjectives will primarily show up as
predicate adjectives (i.e., they come after a linking verb).
The children were ashamed.
The professor remained aloof.
The trees were ablaze.
Occasionally, however, you will find a- adjectives before the word they modify: the alert patient,
the aloof physician. Most of them, when found before the word they modify, are themselves
modified: the nearly awake student, the terribly alone scholar. And a- adjectives are sometimes
modified by "very much": very much afraid, very much alone, very much ashamed, etc.
II. adverbs
1. Definition
Adverbs are words that modify a verb, an adjective or another adverb.
(He drove a very fast car. — How fast was his car?)
(He drove slowly. — How did he drive?)
(She moved quite slowly down the aisle. — How slowly did she move?)
As we will see, adverbs often tell when, where, why, or under what conditions something
happens or happened. Adverbs frequently end in -ly; however, many words and phrases not ending
in -ly serve an adverbial function and an -ly ending is not a guarantee that a word is an adverb.
The words lovely, lonely, motherly, friendly, neighborly, for instance, are adjectives:
That lovely woman lives in a friendly neighborhood.
If a group of words containing a subject and verb acts as an adverb (modifying the verb of a
sentence), it is called an Adverb Clause:
When this class is over, we're going to the movies.
When a group of words not containing a subject and verb acts as an adverb, it is called an
adverbial phrase. Prepositional phrases frequently have adverbial functions (telling place and time,
modifying the verb):
He went to the movies.
She works on holidays.
They lived in Canada during the war.
And Infinitive phrases can act as adverbs (usually telling why):
She hurried to the mainland to see her brother.
The senator ran to catch the bus.
But there are other kinds of adverbial phrases:
He calls his mother as often as possible.
Adverbs can modify adjectives, but an adjective cannot modify an adverb. Thus we would
say that "the students showed a really wonderful attitude" and that "the students showed a
wonderfully casual attitude" and that "my professor is really tall, but not "He ran real fast."
Like adjectives, adverbs can have comparative and superlative forms to show degree.
Walk faster if you want to keep up with me.
The student who reads fastest will finish first.
We often use more and most, less and least to show degree with adverbs:
With sneakers on, she could move more quickly among the patients.
The flowers were the most beautifully arranged creations I've ever seen.
She worked less confidently after her accident.
That was the least skillfully done performance I've seen in years.
The as — as construction can be used to create adverbs that express sameness or equality:
“He can’t run as fast as his sister.”
2. Adverbs used in comparisons
a. The formation of comparative and superlative forms of adverbs
It should be noted that many adverbs, such as sometimes, never, here, there, now, then, first, again,
yesterday and daily have no comparative or superlative forms.
i. Adverbs used with More and Most
Most adverbs used in comparisons, including those formed from corresponding adjectives by
adding the ending ly, form the comparative with the word more, and the superlative with the word
most. For example:
Positive Form Comparative Form Superlative Form
carefully more carefully most carefully
easily more easily most easily
frequently more frequently most frequently
slowly more slowly most slowly
softly more softly most softly
ii. Adverbs used with the endings er and est
Adverbs which have the same positive forms as corresponding adjectives generally also have the
same comparative and superlative forms as the corresponding adjectives. For example:
Positive Form Comparative Form Superlative Form
early earlier earliest
fast faster fastest
hard harder hardest
high higher highest
late later latest
long longer longest
low lower lowest
near nearer nearest
straight straighter straightest
The adverb of time soon also uses the endings er and est:
Positive Form Comparative Form Superlative Form
soon sooner soonest
It should be noted that adverbs formed by adding ly to one-syllable adjectives are sometimes used
with the endings er and est.
e.g. We walked slower and slower.
They sang the softest.
However, in modern English, it is generally considered to be more correct to write:
We walked more and more slowly.
They sang the most softly.
iii. Irregular adverbs
The irregular adverbs have the same comparative and superlative forms as the corresponding
irregular adjectives:
Positive Form Comparative Form Superlative Form
badly worse worst
far farther or further farthest or furthest
little less least
much more most
well better best
b. Positive forms of adverbs used in comparisons
The constructions employed when adverbs are used in comparisons are very similar to those
employed when adjectives are used in comparisons.
i. The construction with As ... As
When used in making comparisons, the positive form of an adverb is usually preceded and
followed by as. This construction is summarized below, followed by examples.
as + positive form + as
of adverb
I can run as fast as you can.
He moves as slowly as a snail.
Her eyes shone as brightly as stars.

If desired, an adverb may be placed before the first occurrence of as:

adverb + as + positive form + as
of adverb
I can run twice as fast as you can.
Her eyes shone almost as brightly as stars.

ii. Ellipsis
Ellipsis is often employed in comparisons using adverbs. For instance, in the second half of such
comparisons, instead of repeating the verb, the first auxiliary may be used, or the verb may be
omitted entirely. In the following examples, the words which would usually be omitted are
enclosed in square brackets.
e.g. I can run as fast as you can [run].
He moves as slowly as a snail [moves].
Her eyes shone as brightly as stars [shine].
c. Comparative forms of adverbs used in comparisons
i. The construction with Than
When used in making comparisons, the comparative form of an adverb is usually followed by
than. This construction is summarized below, followed by examples.
comparative form + than
of adverb

He can swim farther than I can.

She sings more beautifully than her sister does.

As is the case with comparisons using adjectives, comparisons using adverbs can be combined
with phrases or clauses.
e.g. She performs better in front of an audience than she does in rehearsal.
They walked faster when they were on their way to school than they did
when they were on their way home.
In the first example, the two situations being compared are distinguished by the phrases in front of
an audience and in rehearsal. In the second example, the two situations being compared are
distinguished by the clauses when they were on their way to school and when they were on their
way home. The use of ellipsis should be noted. In the first example, the auxiliary does is used
instead of repeating the verb performs. In the second example, the auxiliary did is used instead of
repeating the verb walked.
ii. Progressive comparisons
The comparative forms of adverbs can be used in progressive comparisons. For adverbs with the
ending er, the following construction is used:
comparative form + and + comparative form
of adverb of adverb
e.g. The plane flew higher and higher.
The team performed better and better.

The meanings expressed in these examples can also be expressed as follows:

e.g. The plane flew increasingly high.
The team performed increasingly well.
For adverbs which form the comparative with more, the following construction is used:
more + and + more + positive form
of adverb
He solved the problems more and more easily.
We visited them more and more frequently.

The meanings expressed in these examples can also be expressed as follows:

e.g. He solved the problems increasingly easily.
We visited them increasingly frequently.
iii. The construction with Less and Less
A similar construction, employing the expression less and less, can also be used. The expressions
less and less and more and more have opposite meanings.
less + and + less + positive form
of adverb
He solved the problems less and less easily.
We visited them less and less frequently.

The meanings expressed in these examples can also be expressed as follows:

e.g. He solved the problems decreasingly easily.
We visited them decreasingly frequently.
iv. The construction with The ..., the ...
Two clauses, each beginning with the, and each containing a comparative form of an adjective or
adverb, can be used together in order to indicate a cause and effect relationship between two
different things or events. This construction is summarized below, followed by examples.
comparative 1st part of comparative 2nd part of
The + form of adverb + comparison, + the + form of adverb + comparison
or adjective or adjective

The more they eat, the fatter they get.

The faster we skated, the warmer we felt.

The following are further examples of the use of this type of construction. In these examples, the
comparative forms are underlined.
e.g. The more cleverly we hid the Easter eggs, the more enthusiastically the children searched for
The more I scold her, the worse she behaves.
As shown in the examples, in this type of construction the two clauses beginning with the must be
separated by a comma.
d. Superlative forms of adverbs used in comparisons
i. The construction with The
When used in making comparisons, the superlative form of an adverb is usually preceded by the.
This construction is summarized below, followed by examples.
the + superlative form
of adverb

He jumped the highest of all the boys in the class.

Our team plays the best of all the teams in the league.
They sing the most sweetly of all the choirs I have heard.

In the case of adverbs which form the superlative with the ending est, the superlative is sometimes
preceded by a possessive adjective, instead of by the definite article, the. In the following
examples, the possessive adjectives are printed in bold type.
e.g. He ran his fastest.
I did my best.
ii. The construction with The Least
Adverbs may also be preceded by the expression the least. This construction is summarized below,
followed by examples. The words least and most have opposite meanings.
the + least + positive form
of adverb

She speaks the least loudly of all the children.

This bus runs the least often.

Kinds of Adverbs
Adverbs of Manner
She moved slowly and spoke quietly.
Adverbs of Place
She has lived on the island all her life.
She still lives there now.
Adverbs of Frequency
She takes the boat to the mainland every day.
She often goes by herself.
Adverbs of Time
She tries to get back before dark.
It's starting to get dark now.
She finished her tea first.
She left early.
Adverbs of Purpose
She drives her boat slowly to avoid hitting the rocks.
She shops in several stores to get the best buys.
An adverb describes a verb, adjective, or another adverb
Where do you find an adverb?
Anywhere in the sentence!
The butterfly often flies high
Often the butterfly flies.
The butterfly flies high often
What do adverbs tell you?
Positions of Adverbs
One of the hallmarks of adverbs is their ability to move around in a sentence. Adverbs of
manner are particularly flexible in this regard.
Solemnly the minister addressed her congregation.
The minister solemnly addressed her congregation.
The minister addressed her congregation solemnly.
The following adverbs of frequency appear in various points in these sentences:
Before the main verb: I never get up before nine o'clock.
Between the auxiliary verb and the main verb: I have rarely written to my brother without a
good reason.
Before the verb used to: I always used to see him at his summer home.
Indefinite adverbs of time can appear either before the verb or between the auxiliary and the
main verb:
He finally showed up for batting practice.
She has recently retired.
Order of Adverbs
There is a basic order in which adverbs will appear when there is more than one. It is similar
to The Royal Order of Adjectives, but it is even more flexible.
Verb Manner Place Frequency Time Purpose
Beth swims enthusiastically in the pool every morning Before dawn to keep in
Dad walks impatiently into town every afternoon before to get a
supper newspaper.
Tashonda in her every morning before
naps room lunch.

Relative Adverbs
Adjectival clauses are sometimes introduced by what are called the relative adverbs: where,
when, and why. Although the entire clause is adjectival and will modify a noun, the relative word
itself fulfills an adverbial function (modifying a verb within its own clause).
The relative adverb where will begin a clause that modifies a noun of place:
My entire family now worships in the church where my great grandfather used to be minister.
The relative pronoun "where" modifies the verb "used to be" (which makes it adverbial), but
the entire clause ("where my great grandfather used to be minister") modifies the word "church."
A when clause will modify nouns of time:
My favorite month is always February, when we celebrate Valentine's Day and Presidents'
And a why clause will modify the noun reason:
Do you know the reason why Isabel isn't in class today?
We sometimes leave out the relative adverb in such clauses, and many writers prefer "that" to
"why" in a clause referring to "reason":
Do you know the reason why Isabel isn't in class today?
I always look forward to the day when we begin our summer vacation.
I know the reason that men like motorcycles.
Homework assignment:
1. Read Chapters 19 and 20.
2. Do the exercises after the chapters.