Adjective

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Adjectives.

Adjectives are the third major class of words in English, after nouns and verbs. Adjectives are words expressing properties of objects (e.g. large, blue, simple, clever, economic, progressive, productive, etc) and, hence, qualifying nouns.

Adjectives in English do not change for number or case. The only grammatical category they have is the degrees of comparison. They are also characterized by functions in the sentence.

Degrees of Comparison.

There are three degrees of comparison: positive, comparative and superlative. The positive form is the plain stem of an adjective (e.g. heavy, slow, straight, etc) . The comparative states that one thing has more of the quality named by the adjective than some other thing (e.g. Henry is taller than John). The superlative states that the thing has the greatest degree of the quality among the things being considered (e.g. Henry is the tallest boy in the class)

Most one-syllable adjectives, and most two-syllable adjectives ending in -y, -ow, -er, or consonant +-le , with loud stress on the first syllable and weak stress on the second, form their comparative and superlative by the addition of the suffixes -er and -est.

Positive

Comparative

Superlative

clever

cleverer

cleverest

narrow

narrower

narrowest

pretty

prettier

prettiest

simple

simpler

simplest

Adjectives derived by prefixes from those that use -er/-est also use these suffixes, even though the addition of prefixes makes them longer that two syllables: unhappy - unhappier -unhappiest

All adjectives other than those enumerated above form their comparative by using the intensifier more and their superlative by using the intensifier the most.

Positive

Comparative

Superlative

interesting

more interesting

the most interesting

generous

more generous

the most generous

personal

more personal

the most personal

In a very few cases, English permits a choice between the two devices: commoner / more common, commonest / the most common. Ordinary, when one form is prescribed by the rules, the other is forbidden.

A few adjectives have irregular forms for the degrees of comparison. They are:

good - better - the best

bad - worse - the worst

far - farther - the farthest (for distance)

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