Choosing Adjectivals

Lesson by Safrianna DeGroat
“a word that modifies a
Refers to a word class with
particular characteristics
(describing the noun).
This does not have a
grammatical function.
A phrase that modifies a
Does not have a
grammatical function
The stuff that comes before your headword!
 Most nouns require one
 A signaler that is in the opening of the noun
 Articles, possessive nouns, possessive pronouns,
demonstrative pronouns, numbers, and other
common words
 In writing, you should give deliberate though to it
“The idea you had about the mission is
“That idea you had about the mission is
“Your idea about the mission is great.”
“Every idea you have for the mission is great.”
“His idea for the mission was great.”
“Such an idea can only be described as
“An idea like that could turn out great.”
When you select a determiner, you have a chance to
make distinctions and help your readers move easily
from one idea to the next
 Demonstratives – this, that, these, those – always
refer to KNOWN information; you need to be
referring to something
 Pronouns must clearly refer to someone to be useful
 You can add headwords to make things more clear:
 The engineer told me he was going to the parts shop. (vs.
“He told me he was going to the parts shop.)
 That fight was really tough! (vs. “That was really tough!”)
These are the words that go between the
determiners and headwords
When a noun phrase has both, the order is:
 Determiner, Adjective, Noun, Headword
Sometimes we use more than one adjective:
 “a fresh exciting floral scent”
 “the innovative computer system”
Use a comma between prenoun modifiers if
it’s possible to use and.
 You wouldn’t say, “The blue and embossed and
book cover;” instead, it’s “The blue embossed
book cover.”
 Technically, “The blue, embossed book cover” is
also correct by this rule.
Sometimes prenoun modifiers are modified themselves:
 “a highly unusual girl”
 “the really important paperwork”
In these two examples, we are using a –ly adverb. We do
not need to connect highly and unusual with a hyphen, or
really and important.
 However, sometimes an adjective or noun is used to
modify another as in:
 “the Basic-speaking audience”
 “a four-legged beast”
In these examples, the hyphen shows us that the word
preceding the hyphen modifies the following word, rather
than the subject.
The stuff that comes after the headword!
The adjectival prepositional phrase is the most
common postnoun modifier
Its identical to an adverbial prepositional phrase,
but with a different function
It adds a distinguishing feature to the noun (it
often defines “which one”)
 The soldier stationed at the west outpost really knows
his stuff.
 The Olive Garden near the mall has really good
 The lady with the powder pink hat is in the cook book
Usually an adjective is between the
determiner and noun headword
When the adjective is expanded into a phrase
with qualifiers or becomes compounded, it
can occupy a position after the headword
where its set off by commas
 “The hot, tired Boy Scouts trudged the last mile to
their campsites.” vs. “The Boy Scouts, hot and
tired, trudged the last mile to their campsite.”
This is a versatile type of adjectival where a verb phrase is headed by the
present or past participle form of a verb
 “The helicopter hovering over the roof frightened the dogs.”
Note that it resembles a sentence, but lacks an auxiliary (“The helicopter is
hovering over the roof).
 Pronoun participles are a single word – the verb has no complements or
 “Our snoring visitor kept the house away.” “The barking dog next door drives
us crazy.”
Moving participles are when you move a patriciple to the beining, but
only if it modifies the subject, and is set off by commas.
 “Looking out the window, my mother waved to me.” “Laughing uproariously,
the audience stood and applauded.”
Dangling participles change the focus of the sentence, but can only open
or close the sentence if it modifies the subject. A participle modifies its
own subject; so a dangling participle is a verb without a subject.
 “Carrying all of our supplies for miles, the campground was a welcome sight.”
A relative clause or adjective clause is a structure with
a subject and predicate, enabling the writer to put an
entire subject-predicate idea into a noun phrase.
 A participle phrase is really only a shortened version of
a relative clause.
 “The helicopter that is hovering over the roof frightened
the dogs.”
A relative clause does not have the participle’s ability
to be moved around. It follows its noun.
 Relative pronoun who – who (subjective), whose
(possessive) and whom (objective)
 “The girl whose notes I borrowed wasn’t here today.”
It’s broad!
Punctuation: It can be really fun! Conversely, it can be quite complex – as
you will soon see.
The Royal Order of
This is a basic order you should
strive to put your adjectives in.
It is what comes naturally to us
when we do describe things.