More often than not, English students confuse adjectives and adverbs. Although, a little practice can go a long way when it comes to grammar.


Adjectives are one of four main word classes, along with adverbs, nouns and verbs. They describe a noun or a pronoun.

For example:

  • Sam’s got a fast car.
  • This is a beautiful garden.
  • They live in a polluted area.

Although adjectives usually stand before the word they modify (describe), they may as well stand after it, especially after be, seem, look, feel, etc.

For example:

  • That boy is intelligent.
  • You look tired.
  • I feel happy.

Comparison of adjectives

We normally use adjectives to compare things by adding the suffix ‘-er‘ or ‘-est‘ to one-syllable adjectives and by putting ‘more’ or ‘most’ before the adjectives with more than one syllable.

For example:

  • This house is bigger than that one.
  • My elder son is more responsible than my younger one.

We can compare adjectives with ‘as … as’, ‘not as … as’, etc. Find more about the comparison of adjectives here.

Order of adjectives

We sometimes put more than one adjective before a noun. Their order is as follows:

  • Number or quantity (one, two…, a few, many…)
  • Opinion or quality (nice, ugly, beautiful)
  • Size (large, small, short)
  • Shape (round, square)
  • Age (two-year-old, young)
  • Colour (yellow, brownish)
  • Origin (Italian, Medieval)
  • Material (wooden, glass)
  • Purpose (cooking, driving)

For example:

  • Two beautiful, tall, fifteen-year-old, Australian twin sisters.
  • A beautiful, small, wooden table.

Find more about the order of adjectives in English here.

Adjectives and Adverbs
Adjectives and Adverbs


We normally use adverbs to modify a verb, adjective, another adverb or even an entire sentence. Most of them are built by adding ‘-ly to the adjective.

For example:

  • The opera singer is a beautiful lady.
  • She also sings beautifully.

Comparison of adverbs

Adverbs can also be compared by putting ‘more’ and ‘most’ before them.

For example:

  • He tried to walk more quietly as the baby was sleeping.
  • Paul won the race because he ran most quickly.

Irregular forms

A few adverbs have the same form as the corresponding adjectives: e.g. fast, late, near, hard, high, early, etc.

  • It’s a fast car. (adjective)
  • He was fast asleep. (adverb)
  • He’s a man in his late 50s. (adjective)
  • Mary stayed up late (adverb)
  • There is the nearest petrol station. (adjective)
  • We live near the park. (adverb)
  • It’s hard work. (adjective)
  • They work hard. (adverb)
  • That bird flies higher than the plane. (adjective)
  • I hate when he hits the ball so high. (adverb)
  • An early bird catches the worm. (adjective)
  • It’s nice to wake up early in the country. (adverb)

The forms lately, nearly, hardly, deeply, highly also exist, but have a narrower meaning than their corresponding adjectives:

lately = recently

  • Have you seen Tom lately?

deeply = profoundly

  • Samantha loved her son deeply.

nearly = almost

  • Don’t be impatient. We’ve nearly finished the exercise.

hardly = scarcely, almost not, with difficulty

  • There are hardly any tourists this year because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Adjectives and Adverbs
Adjectives and Adverbs

Good and Well

The main difference between good and well is – good is an adjective and well is an adverb.

  • Sarah paints well.
  • Jim is a good painter.

Things become confusing after linking verbs; we use good after linking verbs such as be, taste, sound, smell, look, seem and feel if we want to describe the subject, not the action of the verb:

  • The film wasn’t good at all.
  • This dish smells good to me.
  • I feel good today.

We use well after the linking verbs: be, feel, look and seem if we want to use the adjective form of well meaning ’healthy’:

  • Jim feels well enough to leave the hospital.
  • Fiona was well yesterday, but she feels sick today.
Adjectives and Adverbs
Adjectives and Adverbs

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