6 ADJECTIVES, ADJECTIVE PHRASES, ADJECTIVE CLAUSE S

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1 6 ADJECTIVES, ADJECTIVE PHRASES, ADJECTIVE CLAUSE S 6.1 ADJECTIVES These tell us more about (they modify or qualify) nouns and pronouns. In this section we shall look at four kinds of adjectives Some adjectives are called attributive because they tell us about the attributes (or qualities) of nouns. The angry man stamped his foot. Angry tells us something about the noun man. She bought the red roses Red tells us something about the noun roses. Sometimes the adjective goes after the verb, as in The man was angry. The roses were red Some adjectives tell us to whom things or qualities (indicated by nouns) belong. They are called possessive adjectives. They include my, your, his, her, its, our, your (plural), their: eg My essay is finished. His excitement grew. Their achievement is a credit to the University Some adjectives draw particular attention to certain nouns. Theyare called demonstrative adjectives: this, that, these, those. I want this book Have you seen these books? NE If we say just I want this or Have you seen these? this and these are no longer adjectives. This stands for this book and these stands for these books. This and these stand for nouns and are called demonstrative pronouns Some adjectives answer the question 'ho any?' wed of a noun. Examples are all, both, many, s e, either, each, every, any. These are called distributive or quantitative: Both students were awarded prizes. Many students face financial difficulties.

2 As with demonstrative adjectives, if these words are se their own, to stand for the nouns to which they refer, they become s, as in Both were awarded prizes. Many face financial difficulties. ( stands ii dents.) 6.2 COMPARATIVES AND SUPERLAT S OF S The rich man gave 1,000 to OXFAM. A richer man gave 5,000. Richer is the comparative of the adjective and is us 0. The richest man in the town gave 50,00. Richest is the superlative of the adjectvei and is u re than two. This is one way of forming the comparative and of adjectives, namely by adding er and est. Other exampies are loud, louder, loudest bright, brighter, brightest. Sometimes when an adjective ends in a consonant the consanant has to be doubled: eg ~., big, bigger, biggest. If the adjective ends in e then one has to d only r t 9 fierce, fiercer, fiercest. Another way of forming comparatives an superlatives fdjectives is to add more or most, as in beautiful, more beautiful, most beautiful. With some adjectives either method may be used: eg common, commoner, commonest common, more common, most common. Sometimes, however, only the more and most method can be used, as with beautiful, noted above. Other examples are intricate, youthful, academic, gruesome, economic, fruitful. NB A very few adjectives are irregular, that is, they do not form their comparative and superlative merely by adding er and est or more and most. The most familiar example is good, better, best 1 Some adjectives do not have degrees of comparison. Perhaps the best-known is unique: something is either unique (ie the only one of its kind) or it is not. Other examples are vital, ideal, equal.

3 6.3 ADJECTIVE PHRASES Before going any further, read Section 2 again on The Formal Written Sentence for the terms phrase, finite verb, clause. Sometimes the part of a sentence telling us about a noun is a group of words, rather than one word: The vase of spring flowers is on the table. A series of lunch-time concerts is being arranged. The woman in the brown coat looked nervous. Such groups of words are called adjective phr~ses. 1 A footnote on an idiom (see 3.7) We all know the Baying Put your best foot forward. Grammar tells us that we use good when referring to one item, better when referring to two and best when referring to more than two. How, then, can we use best when we have only two feet? Yet we not only can, we must, as this is an idiomatic expression, one which has established itself as the accepted form used by educated people. Will everyone put their signature on the petition? Don't over-use this convention, however, as, depending on the context, it can look very odd. The following sentences come from an essay on conducting appraisal and development interviews, where the advice applied to both male and female employees: Greet the employee in a friendly way and ask them to sit down. The interviewer should find somewhere to sit which does not put them in a dominating position. In both sentences him or her (or just him or her) would look and sound better than them. 6 NONE This word means not any as well as not one and it can take either a singular or a plural verb: eg None of the students are absent. None of the equipment is safe. 7 MORE THAN ONE More than one (though it must be plural) takes a singular verb: More than one of these cups is cracked. This is an example of idiomatic English, that is, it is an expression which has established itself as the accepted form used by educated people, even if it is not logical. Idiomatic expressions do not always contravene the conventions of grammar, but when they do, it is gram- mar which must go to the wall. (Go to the wall is another idiomatic expression which you

4 8 EACH probably know, but what would someone learning English as a foreign language make of it? It would be of no use looking up the individual words in a dictionary: it now has nothing to do with walls, though in early times there was some connection.) When each precedes the noun or pronoun to which it refers, a singular verb is normally used: eg Each of them was willing to go. When each follows a plural subject, a plural verb is used: eg They were each willing to go. (In a sentence like this it is simpler to change each to all.) 9 EVERY When the adjective every is attached to a noun which is the subject of a verb, the verb is singular. Every nurse was recalled to duty. Every avenue was explored. 10 THE WORD NUMBER If used with the, number takes a singular verb: The number of casualties is thought to be fifteen. If used with a, it takes a plural verb: A number of casualties are expected. ll NOUNS WHICH ARE PLURAL IN FORM BUT WHICH HAVE A SINGULAR MEANING These usually take a singular verb: Measles is infectious. The news is good. Billiards is a game which needs a steady hand. The United States is expected to sign the treaty. Six months is the guarantee period. This also applies to subject names like Physics, Acoustics, Mathematics, Politics, Statistics: eg Politics is my favourite subject. However, if these words can be used in other ways, they take a plural verb: eg His politics have nothing to do with the matter.

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