Adjectives and Adverbs
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)
- Two beautiful, tall, fifteen-year-old, Australian twin sisters.
- A beautiful, small, wooden table.
Find more about the order of adjectives in English here.
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.
- 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.
- He tried to walk more quietly as the baby was sleeping.
- Paul won the race because he ran most quickly.
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.
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.
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