Types of Adjectives

In this section you will find information about the different types of adjectives.

What are participle adjectives?

Participle adjectives are adjectives that end in ‘-ing’ and ‘-ed’

Present participle adjectives end in ‘-ing’ and they indicate a continuous action and its effect.

Past participle adjectives en in ‘-ed’ and they describe the state or emotion of a noun.

Examples of participle adjectives

Present participle adjectivesPast participle adjectives

What are descriptive adjectives?

Descriptive adjectives give information about the qualities of a noun.

Nora’s posters are awesome.
My parents are wonderful people.
The view is marvelous.

What are proper adjectives?

Proper adjectives are similar to proper nouns; the difference is that proper adjectives are formed from proper nouns. Also, proper adjectives use capital letters at the beginning of the word.

Proper adjectives referring to countries, cities, regions, nationalities, famous individuals, religions.

Common endings of proper adjectives: -ese, -ish, -ian, -ean, -an, -ic, -i.

Examples: Viennese, British, Brazilian, Caribbean, Moroccan, Antartic, Pakistani.

We will have Mexican food today; I can’t wait.
Our French friend teaches us the language.
I bought Japanese souvenirs.

What are compound adjectives?

We form compound adjectives when two or more words are joined together, usually with hyphens (in some cases the hyphen is not used, for example: seasick).

Types of compound adjectives

-Noun + noun

I’ve got a new part-time job; I start tomorrow morning.

-Noun + adjective

He bought a brand-new bike.

-Noun + present participle

Her speech had a eye-opening impact on the audience.

-Noun + past participle

I wore a tailor-made suit for the party.

-Adjective + noun

She came up with a last-minute idea.

-Adjective + present participle

They are good-looking people.

-Adjective + past participle

I don’t have old-fashioned relatives.

-Adverb + Adjective

The book had an incredibly long story.

Note: when the adverb ends in ‘-ly’, you don’t have to include a hyphen.

-Adverb + present participle

The rapidly changing situation in the company is unpredictable.

-Adverb + past participle

The essay is well-written.

-Quantifier + noun

The students wrote a five-page essay as homework.

What are possessive adjectives?

Possessive adjectives express the idea of possession of a noun, which means that they describe who the noun is associated with; they come before a noun and we usually place them at the beginning or middle of a sentence.

Subject pronounPossessive adjective

Have you seen her room? It’s really pretty.
My headphones sound fantastic.
Javier is playing with his toys.

What are demonstrative adjectives?

Demonstrative adjectives come before the noun they are referring to in terms of proximity or position.

They follow the structure: demonstrative adjective + noun


We can place demonstrative adjectives at the beginning, middle or end of a sentence, just make sure to follow the structure. In case there are adjectives before the noun, you have to place the demonstrative before adjective.

This song in the playlist is my favourite.
They renovated their house, but they kept that small old chair.
Helen wants to eat these strawberries.
I don’t know those people.

Extra notes

Do not confuse demonstrative adjectives with demonstrative pronouns.

We use demonstrative adjectives followed by a noun and demonstrative nouns can replace nouns and can stand alone.

This tool doesn’t work. (demonstrative adjective)
This is too much for me. (demonstrative nouns)

What are interrogative adjectives?

Interrogative adjectives include ‘what’, ‘which’, and ‘whose’. They are used to ask questions about the noun they modify and they must come before that noun.

We use what for things that are unknown by the speaker.

What restaurant do you want to go to? (the number of restaurants are unknown by the speaker).

We use which for things that are known by the speaker.

Which restaurant you want to go to? (the number of restaurants are known by the speaker because they are choosing from a limited number of restaurants, maybe two or three of them).

We use whose to ask for the owner of something.

Whose photocard is the one on the desk?

Direct and indirect questions

The examples provided previously are direct questions because they start with the interrogative adjective:

What restaurant do you want to go to?
Which restaurant you want to go to?
Whose photocard is the one found on the desk?

Indirect questions occur when the interrogative adjectives are placed in the middle of a sentence:

I wonder if you could tell me what time it is?
Do you know which spa is the best?
Could you find out whose bag was left on the table?

What are distributive adjectives?

Distributive adjectives emphasize the individual members of a group; they describe each member of a group separately; also, they modify singular nouns.

Each refers to an individual entity in a group.

Each guest received a warming welcome.

Every refers to all the individual entities of a group.

Every poster must be signed by the singer.

We use either when there are two choices and you have to indicate one those options.

Either driver is qualified to take you to your destination.
You can order either Chinese or Mexican food.
You can put on either shirt.

We use neither when there are two choices but both options are not feasible. It implies a negative connotation.

Neither seat is comfortable.

Any refers to one or some individual entities of a group.

Any employee can attend the conference.
Do you have any ideas?

We use both when there are two choices and both options are considered collectively.

Both options are being looked into.

What are indefinite adjectives?

Indefinite adjectives do not provide a specific description of a noun but rather a general one. The indefinite adjectives are: some, few, many, much, several, most, each, any, no, plenty, more, all, none, little.

Some fruits were stolen. (some refers to an indefinite number of things).

Few people got injured. (few refers to a small number of things, we use it with countable nouns).

It doesn’t have much energy. (much, which we use with uncountable nouns, refers to a significant amount of something).

I already have many hats. (many refers to a significant number of things).

Several pictures were taken. (Several refers to a relatively significant number or amount of something but without giving an definite number or amount).

Most singers know how to play all the instruments. (Most suggests that there is a high number of something compared to others).

Each athlete has been training for 1 year.

I don’t have any questions.

There are no chairs in the conference room. (No indicates lack of something).

We have plenty of offers at the main location. (Plenty means that there is more than enough of something).

All passengers must remain calm. (All refers to the complete number or amount of something in a group).

Little information is known about them. (Little refers to a small amount of something, it is used with uncountable nouns).

What are quantitative adjectives?

Quantitative adjectives, as their name implies, refer to the quantity of a noun; they give an exact number of the noun they modify.

Types of quantitative adjectives

Cardinal numbers indicate the exact number of people or things.

There are five boxes left in the room.
The teacher has ten different English books.
Sarah has four sisters.

Ordinal numbers indicate an order or rank of things in a sequence.

I’m the first person in the list.
This is the third time I’ve visited Greece.
This is the fifth round.

What are comparative and superlative adjectives?

Comparative adjectives and superlative adjectives are other types of adjectives. Read more about comparative adjectives here.

What are gradable and non-gradable adjectives?

Gradable adjectives and non-gradable adjectives are other types of adjectives. Read more about these types of adjectives here.

What are collective adjectives?

Collective adjectives follow the structure the + adjective and we can use them as the subject or object of a sentence; they describe a characteristic that applies to the group as a whole.

The strong
The weak
The homeless
The poor
The rich
The elderly
The young
The wise
The talented
The Spanish (when you talk about nationality, you must capitalize the word)
The British
The homeless need our help (collective adjectives take plural forms)
The new campaign was designed to provide services to the young.

Read more about adjectives here.