Understanding Adjectives and Adverbs: Definitions and Examples

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The simplest definition of an adjective is that it is a word that describes or clarifies a noun. Adjectives describe nouns by giving some information about an object’s size, shape, age, color, origin, or material.

It’s a big table. (size)

It’s a round table. (shape)

It’s an old table. (age)

Possessive adjectives - my, your, his, her, its, our, your, their -

Modify the noun following it to show possession.


I'll get my bag.

Is this your luggage?

Comparative adjectives

Used to compare differences between two objects they modify (larger, smaller, faster, higher).

My house is larger than hers.

This box is smaller than the one I lost.

Your dog runs faster than Jim's dog.

Superlative adjectives

Used to describe an object at the upper or lower limit of a quality (the tallest, the smallest, the fastest, the highest).

My house is the largest one in our neighborhood.

This is the smallest box I've ever seen.

Your dog ran the fastest of any dog in the race.

Distributive adjectives

Used with singular nouns to refer to members of a group as individuals.

Every employee was given a bonus.

Every student in the class was encouraged to take part in the competition.

Each student is responsible for littering the classroom.

Each cheerleader is given props along with a dress.

Is there any coffee in the pot?

Did anyone fail the exam?

They don’t have anything to eat.

Can you buy this one?

Each one knows the secret.


Used to change or qualify the meaning of an adjective, verb, clause, or another adverb.

Adverbs normally answer questions such as when, how, where, in what way, and to what extent.

Adverbs of time

Tell us when an action happened, for how long, and how often.

Goldilocks went to the Bears' house yesterday.

I'm going to tidy my room tomorrow.

I saw Sally today.

I will call you later.

Adverbs of manner

Tell us how something happens.

He swims well.

He ran quickly.

She spoke softly.

James coughed loudly to attract her attention.

He plays the flute beautifully. (after the direct object)

Adverbs of place

Tell us where something happens.

John looked around but he couldn't see the monkey.

I searched everywhere I could think of.

I'm going back to school.

Come in!

Adverbs of degree

Tell us about the intensity of something.

Adverbs of degree are usually placed before the adjective, adverb, or verb that they modify.

The water was extremely cold.

She is running very fast.

You are walking too slowly.

The movie is quite interesting.

Adverbs of frequency

Change or qualify the meaning of a sentence by telling us how often something happens.

Adverbs of frequency describe how often something occurs, either in definite or indefinite terms.

We take a vacation at least once annually.

I usually shop for groceries on Saturday mornings.

He is often late for work.

We seldom see John.

My dentist told me I should floss twice daily.

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