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Describing language
Describing language

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2.2 Where do adjectives go?

Typical adjectives can generally be used in two ways:

  • a.before a noun:
    • a green parrot, some tasty fish, antique furniture, desperate remedies
  • b.after a verb, referring back to the noun before it:
    • Hanna is clever, Lisbon sounds interesting, Jacobo felt tired

Most adjectives can be used in both positions, but some are more restricted. For example, awake and asleep only usually occur in the second structure. For example, he felt awake or they were soon asleep, but not an awake person, or the asleep children. On the other hand, some adjectives are only used before a noun, such as an only child, or the occasional mistake, but not their child was only or the mistake was occasional.

Activity 2 Add the adjectives

Timing: This activity should take around 15 minutes

After all those lists, it’s now time to put some of those adjectives to work. Read the following passage, and choose from the adjectives below to fill in the blanks:

  • asleep
  • blue
  • bushy
  • closer
  • different
  • long
  • open
  • pet
  • right
  • shabby
  • still
  • strangest
  • thin
  • tired
  • thoughtful
  • wooden
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I knew as soon as I saw him he was different. He was thin, with a long bushy beard, and was wearing a shabby suit made of blue cloth. He had a wooden walking stick in his right hand. He was very still, and at first I thought he had fallen asleep, but when I got closer I saw his eyes were open. He had a thoughtful expression on his face, but he didn’t seem tired. The strangest thing about him was his pet snake.

There are a few possible alternatives here (‘a blue suit made of shabby cloth’?), but the main point here is to show examples of some of the different types of adjectives in context.