by Alisa Dial
Student, University of North
Carolina at Pembroke, 1998
Adjectivals are words or phrases that modify nouns.
They make language creative, colorful, and unique. Adjectivals can
improve the quality of one's writing by allowing the reader to imagine
the noun (a person, place, or thing) that is being described.
There are several different
types of adjectivals, including adjectives, adjectival prepositional phrases,
participial phrases, and relative clauses. Each of these types allows
speakers and write to communicate effectively.
a word class with particular characteristics
that describe and compare nouns
Examples: "the silly
clown," "the sillier clown," and "the silliest clown"
word or phrase that modifies or describes a noun.
Examples: "the red barn,"
"the burning barn," "the barn that belongs to my father"
adjectival prepositional phrase:
a prepositional phrase that modifies the noun and
identifies time, place, direction, purpose, or origin of the noun.
Example: The ski resorts along
the Wasatch Mountain Range are excellent.
a word or phrase that renames a noun phrase
or other nominal; adds additional information to the noun phrase.
Example: My best friend, Melanie,
is from Utah.
a participial phrase without a clear subject
Example: Being a poet, words
fascinated Emily Dickinson.
the -ing or -en form of a verb functioning
as an adjectival
Example: The crying infant kept
his parents up all night.
participial phrase: a
phrase that begins with a participle and modifies a noun
Example: The woman swimming
across the lake is my mother.
relative clause: (also known as adjectival
dependent clause that modifies the noun; it is introduced by a relative
pronoun (who/whom, which, and that) or a relative adverb (when, where,
Example: Bill Clinton, who
is the President of the United States, is serving his second
Identify and label the adjectivals in the following
For the following sentences, fill in the blank
slot with an adjectival. Identify any other adjectivals in the sentence.
The Wasatch Mountain Range in Utah is regal and majestic
with its snow-capped peaks that glisten during sunset.
The elderly lady who lives down the street is my
The weather during January was wet and dreary because
of El Nino.
The energetic, playful toddlers are attending the
Sunshine Day-Care and Learning Center.
For the following sentences, write a sentence
using the designated type of adjectival.
Ford Motor Company recently unveiled their (
) version of the 1999 Mercury Cougar.
Life is (
) study group discusses their next meeting (
here for answers.
Adjectival prepositional phrase
|To understand adjectivals, one must be able to
identify them in different sentence patterns and structures. Here
are a few tips to help.
If it (the word or phrase) can be moved, then most
likely it is an adverbial. Most adverbs answer questions such as
where, whereas adjectivals answer questions such as which.
Adjectivals often appear next to the noun they are modifying
Can the adjectival be moved?
What kind of question does it answer?
Is it adjacent to a noun?
Anthony Hughes. "English
Internet. Available: http://www.edunet.com/english/grammar/index.html
This World Wide Web site is an excellent resource
to gain more knowledge and understanding of the basic grammatical structures
in the English language. It provides tips and offers on-line help.
Kolln, Martha and Robert Funk.
Understanding English Grammar. 5th ed. Boston:
Allyn & Bacon, 1988.
This informative text book offers explanations
and examples of new and old grammatical theories.
Quirk, Randolph. A Comprehensive Grammar
of the English Language. New York:
This book offers research on grammatical theories
Edited by Mark