Adjective & Modifier Summary


persian cat

Identify specific English grammar points that need review.



Adjective Uses: recognize how they function in clauses

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers


Red leaves are falling.  (attributive)

We saw something red. (post-position!)

The leaves are red.   (predicative)

Fall turns the leaves red(predicative)


Adjective Suffixes: form adjectives from other word forms

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

evening sky

It was a spectacle.

It was spectacular.

It was a spectacular sky.

It was an awesome / awful sight.

It was an historic / historical night.


Adjective Order: put adjectives in a natural sounding word order

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

Big purple paisley cat

 I drew a pretty, little, purple-and-pink paisley pussycat.

Adjectives as Predicative Complements

Be + Adj Complement: express qualities and characteristics after be ("ascriptive be")

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

a sleepwalker

He is tired.

He seems tired.

He appears tired.

 (No action involved.)

Adjective w/ Prep: describing emotional reactions 

Int–Advanced ESL


Jason is anxious about his future.

He would like to be independent of his parents.

He is good at many things.

He is optimistic about his future.

Verb + Adj Complement: indicate resulting states of actions (object complements)

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

car being fixed

Larry washed the car clean

Larry wiped the car dry

Larry pushed the door open.


She wants her car cleaned(service) 

She wants her car clean(target state) She found her car clean.  (unexpected state)

Nouns as Modifiers to Nouns

Noun Modifiers: modify a noun with a noun 

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

office chair

Its a chair for an office.

It's an office chair (singular)

It is a sports car (a rare plural modifier)

Number Modifiers: combine a numbers and nouns as a modifier

Beginning–Intermediate ESL


The ladder had five steps.

It was a five-step ladder.

There are a million uses for WD-40(spelled out)

Participles as Modifiers to Nouns

Participle Modifiers 1:  contrast the receiver vs. the source of the experience

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

clown juggling

The act was entertaining

We were entertained.


It was an entertaining act.

The highly entertained audience sat silently.

Participle Modifiers 2: contrast an on-going process or a completed state

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

roasted chicken 

a roasting chicken - still cooking! 
a  roasted chicken - done!

A recently spotted owl was making a nest. (seen)
A spotted owl nests in spring. (natural appearance)

A sleeping dog should not be awakened. (ongoing)
A sleeping bag is required for camping. (function)

Participle w/ Prep: express reaction to circumstances or things

Intermediate–Advanced ESL


The children were interested in hearing his story.
The press was excited about the President's speech.

The President is pleased with the response.
The President is pleased with how the people responded.

He is interested in and excited about his new project.

Gerund-Participle: examine the function of -ing word forms

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

part of speech?

The endings of those movies were disappointing. (Subj: NP)

The movies were ending without finishing the story. (Pred: VP)

Ending the movie production was difficult. (Subj: nonfinite)

The director began ending the movie production. (Comp: nonfinite)

The production ending in June will be shown in theaters in August. (Modifer: nonfinite)

Participial Modifier w/ Preposition: determine which preposition complements the verb

Intermediate–Advanced ESL

Paparazzi camera flash

Celebrities are concerned ____ the activities of the Paparazzi.


Participle Modifier Quiz: auto-correcting quiz

Intermediate–Advanced ESL

my old house

I was surprised to see how much the neighborhood had changed. (past participial adjective)

It was surprising to see how much the neighborhood had changed.  (present participial adjective)

We saw broken windows. (past participial adjective)

We heard breaking news. (present participial adjective)


Clauses as Modifiers to Nouns (Adjective Clauses)  See Modifying Clauses


Modifiers to Adjectives

Modifiers to Adj: indicate how much or what degree of modification

Beginning–Intermediate ESL


The basketball player is nine feet tall. (plural)

He can place a ball in a basket ball hoop ten feet high.

He sleeps in a bed that is nine and a half feet long.

He is extremely tall.

Adverbs for Degree: indicate intensity

(Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

A big talker

He talks excessively. 

He talks extremely fast.

He is rather talkative.

He is very smart.


Comparative Modifiers to Nouns

Comparisons: describe similarities and differences

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

setting comparisons 

 The apple is similar to the orange.

The color of the apple is unlike the color of the orange.

This While the orange is high in fiber, the apple is not.

On the one hand, oranges are high in vitamin C; on the other hand, they are very acetic to the stomach.

The same as/ As ... as:  state equivalent aspects

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers


The apple is the same weight as the orange. 

The apple is as heavy as the orange. 

The apple is as light as the orange. 

You are the same age as I am. 

You are the same age as I / me. 

More / -er: compare the quality of two items or the manner of two actions

Beginning–Intermediate ESL, Native Speakers


This apple is better than that one (is).  (good - better)

This is a better apple than that one (is). 

This apple is more beautiful than that one (is). 

This is a less tasty apple than that one (is). 

He drives faster than she does

*He drives faster than her.

Much / More: a large quantity vs an additional amount

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

healthful food 

People have much more knowledge about eating right.

Many more people are eating healthier diets.

People eat too much fat, sugar and salt.

People eat too many chips, cookies and candy bars.

He is much too old for her. 

She is far too young for him.

Farther/Further: express comparative distance

Further down the street

The shop is farther down the street.  physical distance

The shop is further down the street.  physical distance

What you say couldn't be further from the truth! figurative 

Do you need any further assistance?  ("more") 

We'll help them further their cause. ("advance") verb 

Most / -est: compare one item or person to the group

Beginning–Intermediate ESL, Native Speakers

apple comparison

The Granny Smith apple is the tastiest apple for baking.

The Red Delicious apple is the most flavorful apple.

The Jonathan apple is the least flavorful apple.

The cheetah runs the fastest of all mammals.

The sloth moves the least fast of all mammals.


The more, the more: indicate that two things vary together

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

couple looks at wreakage

The more we saw, the less we could believe.

The bigger, the better.

Related Page

The–Group: refer to a group as "the' adjective (word form)

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

the blind

The blind need accessible walkways.

The English  were proud of their team.

Do you want a large or small coffee.  I'll have the large.

The latter will be much better.  In fact,  it's the best.