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.



Identify and label the adjectivals in the following sentences.
  1. The Wasatch Mountain Range in Utah is regal and majestic with its snow-capped peaks that glisten during sunset.
  2. The elderly lady who lives down the street is my aunt.
  3. The weather during January was wet and dreary because of El Nino.
  4. The energetic, playful toddlers are attending the Sunshine Day-Care and Learning Center.
For the following sentences, fill in the blank slot with an adjectival.  Identify any other adjectivals in the sentence.
  1. Ford Motor Company recently unveiled their (               ), (             ) version of the 1999 Mercury Cougar.
  2. Life is (                                   ).
  3. The (                  ) study group discusses their next meeting (                                 ).
For the following sentences, write a sentence using the designated type of adjectival.
  1. Participial phrase
  2. Adjectival prepositional phrase
  3. Appositive
Click here for answers.


To understand adjectivals, one must be able to identify them in different sentence patterns and structures.  Here are a few tips to help.  
  • Can the adjectival be moved? 
  • What kind of question does it answer?
  • Is it adjacent to a noun?
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 


Anthony Hughes.  "English Grammar On-Line." Internet.  Available:
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:     Longman, 1985.
This book offers research on grammatical theories and structures.

Edited by Mark Canada