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Describing language
Describing language

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2 Types of adjectives

There are lots of adjectives in English. Like nouns and verbs, there are so many it wouldn’t be possible to list them all. And as with nouns and verbs, new ones can always be invented.

Here are some entries for adjectives which were added to the Oxford English Dictionary in January 2020, with their definitions:

awesomesauce: Extremely good; excellent.

guber: Of or relating to a governor or governorship.

hench: Of a person: having a powerful, muscular physique; fit, strong.

(OED, 2020)

Even if these are new to you, they must have appeared in print or recorded speech often enough for the dictionary makers to think they were worth including.

Box 1

There are some adjectives which form small sets. For example:

  • a.those which identify the owner of the following noun: my pencils, your uncle, our ambitions
  • b.those that point out which thing or person you mean: this door, those tomatoes
  • c.those that ask which thing or person you mean: which omelette?, whose giraffe?, what money?

Because these adjectives form limited sets, they are discussed next week, as part of a group called ‘determiners’.

If you like grammatical terminology – it is neat to have labels for everything! – you might like to know that some grammarians call these small sets of adjectives: a) possessive, b) demonstrative and c) interrogative adjectives. But you don’t need to know all of these labels for this course.