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Types of Adjective
(A)The main kinds are:
(a) Demonstrative: this, that, these, those
(b) Distributive: each, every, either, neither
(c) Quantitative: some, any, no; little/few; many, much
(d) Interrogative: which, what, whose
(e) Possessive: my, you’re, his, her, its, our, your, they’re
(f) Of quality: clever, dry, fat, golden, good, heavy, square
Demonstrative Adjectives and Pronouns – This/These, That/Those
(A ) Used as adjectives, they agree with their nouns in number. They are the only adjectives to do this.
- This beach was quite empty last year.
- This exhibition will be open until the end of May.
- These people come from that hotel over there.
- What does that notice say?
- That exhibition closed a month ago.
- He was dismissed on the 13th. That night the factory went on fire.
- Do you see those birds at the top of the tree?
This/These/That/Those + noun + of + yours/hers etc. or Ann’s etc. is sometimes, for emphasis, used instead of your/her etc. + noun:
- This diet of mine/My diet isn’t having much effect.
- That car of Ann’s/Ann’s car is always breaking down.
Remarks made with these phrases are usually, though not necessarily always, unfavourable.
(B) This/These, That/Those used as pronouns:
- This is my umbrella. That’s yours.
- These are the old classrooms. Those are the new ones.
- Who’s that (man over there)? — That’s Tom Jones.
- After a radio programme:
- That was the concerto in C minor by Vivaldi.
This is possible in introductions:
- ANN (to TOM): This is my brother Hugh.
- ANN (to HUGH): Hugh, this is Tom Jones.
- TELEPHONE CALLER: Good morning. This is/I am Tom Jones …
I am is slightly more formal than This is and is more likely to be used when the caller is a stranger to the other person. The caller’s name + here (Tom here) is more informal than This is.
Those can be followed by a defining relative clause:
- Those who couldn’t walk were carried on stretchers.
This/That can represent a previously mentioned noun, phrase or clause:
- They’re digging up my road. They do this every summer.
- He said I wasn’t a good wife. Wasn’t that a horrible thing to say?
(C) this/these, that/those used with one/ones
When there is some idea of comparison or selection, the pronoun one/ones are often placed after these demonstratives, but it is not essential except when this etc. is followed by an adjective:
- This chair is too low. I’ll sit in that (one).
- I like this (one) best.
- I like this blue one/they blue ones.
(B) Distributive: each, every, either, neither
all, each, every, both, neither, either, some, any, no, none
all, each, every, everyone, everybody, everything
(A) All compared to every
Technically, all means a number of people or things considered as a group while every means a number of people or things considered individually. But in practice, every and its compounds are often used when we are thinking of a group.
(B) each (adjective and pronoun) and every (adjective)
Each means a number of persons or things considered individually.
every can have this meaning but with every, there is less emphasis on the individual.
Every man had a weapon means ‘All the men had weapons’, and implies that the speaker counted the men and .the weapons and found that he had the same number of each. Each man had a weapon implies that the speaker went to each man in turn and checked that he had a weapon.
- each is a pronoun and adjective: Each (man) knows what to do.
- every is an adjective only: Every man knows…
- each can be used of two or more persons or things and is normally used of small numbers.
- every is not normally used of very small numbers.
Both take a singular verb. The possessive adjective is his/her/its.
(C ) everyone/everybody and everything (pronouns)
Everyone/everybody + singular verb is normally preferred to all (the) people + plural verb, i.e. we say Everyone is ready instead of All the people are ready. There is no difference between everyone and everybody.
Everything is similarly preferred to all (the) things, i.e. we say Everything has been wasted instead of All the things have been wasted.
The expressions all (the) people, all (the) things are possible when followed by a phrase or clause:
- All the people in the room clapped,
- I got all the things you asked for,
Otherwise, they are rarely used.
(A)1- neither means ‘not one and not the other’. It takes an affirmative singular verb. It can be used by itself or followed by a noun or by of + the/these/those/possessives or personal pronouns:
- I tried both keys but neither (of them) worked.
- Neither of them knew the way/Neither boy knew…
- I’ve read neither of these (books).
2. either means ‘any one of two’. It takes a singular verb and, like neither, can be used by itself or followed by a noun/pronoun or by of + the/these/those etc.
3. either + negative verb can replace neither + affirmative except when neither is the subject of a verb. So either could not be used in (a) or (b) above but could in (c):
I haven’t read either of these (books).
Though either cannot be the subject of a negative verb, it can be subject or object of an affirmative or interrogative verb:
- Either (of these) would do.
- Would you like either of these?
4 – Pronouns and possessive adjectives with neither/either used of people should technically be he/him, she/her and his/her, but in
In colloquial English the plural forms are generally used:
- Neither of them knows the way, do they?
- Neither of them had brought their passports.
B- neither . . . nor, either . . . or neither
. . . nor + affirmative verb is an emphatic way of combining two negatives:
- Neither threats nor arguments had any affect on him.
- They said the room was large and bright but it was neither large nor bright.
- He neither wrote nor phoned.
either . . . or + negative verb can replace neither . . . nor except when neither . . . nor is the subject of a verb, as in
- . . but it wasn’t either large or bright and
- He didn’t either write or phone.
either . . . or cannot be the subject of a negative verb but can be the subject or object of affirmative or interrogative verbs and is used in this way to express alternatives emphatically:
- You can have either soup or fruit juice. (not both)
- You must either go at once or wait till tomorrow.
- It’s urgent, so could you either phone or telex?
(c) Quantitative: some, any, no; little/few; many, much (25)
some, any, no and none (adjectives and pronouns)
(A)1- some and any mean ‘a certain number or amount’. They are used with or instead of plural or uncountable nouns. (For some/any with singular nouns, see C below.)
some is a possible plural form of a/an and one:
- Have a biscuit/some biscuits.
- I ate a date/some dates.
some, any and none can be used with of + the/this/these/those/ possessives/personal pronouns:
- Some of the staff can speak Japanese.
- Did any of your photos come out well?
2- some is used:
With affirmative verbs:
- They bought some honey.
In questions where the answer ‘yes’ is expected:
- Did some of you sleep on the floor? (I expect so.)
In offers and requests:
- Would you like some wine?
- Could you do some typing for me?
(See also C.)
3- Any is used:
With negative verbs:
- I haven’t any matches.
With hardly, barely, scarcely (which are almost negatives):
- I have hardly any spare time.
With without when without any . . . = with no . . . :
- He crossed the frontier without any difficulty/with no difficulty.
With questions except the types noted above:
- Have you got any money?
- Did he catch any fish?
After if/whether and in expressions of doubt:
- If you need any more money, please let me know.
- I don’t think there is any petrol in the tank.
(B)- no (adjective) and none (pronoun)
no and none can be used with affirmative verbs to express a negative:
- I have no apples. I had some last year but I have none this year.
no + noun can be the subject of a sentence:
- No work was done.
- No letter(s) arrived.
none as the subject is possible but not very usual:
- We expected letters, but none came.
none + of, however, is quite usual as subject:
- None of the tourists wanted to climb the mountain.
(C) some or any used with singular, countable nouns
Some here usually means ‘an unspecified or unknown’:
- Some idiot parked his car outside my garage.
or others can be added to emphasize that the speaker isn’t very interested:
- He doesn’t believe in conventional medicine; he has some remedy or other of his own.
any can mean ‘practically every’, ‘no particular (one)’:
- Any book about riding will tell you how to saddle a horse.
- Any dictionary will give you the meaning of these words.
little/a few and little/few
a little/little (adjectives) are used before uncountable nouns:
- a little salt/little salt
a few/few (adjectives) are used before plural nouns:
- a few people/few people
All four forms can also be used as pronouns, either alone or with of:
- Sugar? — A little, please.
- Only a few of these is any good.
(B) a little, a few (adjectives and pronouns)
a little is a small amount, or what the speaker considers a small
- a few is a small number, or what the speaker considers a small number.
only placed before a little/a few emphasizes that the number or the amount really is small in the speaker’s opinion:
- Only a few of our customers have accounts.
But quite placed before a few increases the number considerably:
- I have quite a few books on art. (quite a lot of books)
(C) little and few (adjectives and pronouns)
little and few denote scarcity or lack and have almost the force of a negative:
- There was little time for consultation.
- Little is, known about the side-effects of this drug.
- Few towns have such splendid trees.
This use of little and few are mainly confined to written English (probably because in conversation little and few might easily be mistaken for a little/a few). In conversation, therefore, little and few are normally replaced by hardly any. A negative verb + much/many are also possible:
- We saw little = We saw hardly anything/We didn’t see much.
- Tourists come here but few stay overnight =
- Tourists come here but hardly any stay overnight.
But little and few can be used more freely when they are qualified by so, very, too, extremely, comparatively, relatively etc.
fewer (comparative) can also be used more freely.
- I’m unwilling to try a drug I know so little about.
- They have too many technicians, we have too few.
- There are fewer butterflies every year.
(D) a little/little (adverbs)
1. a little can be used:
(a) with verbs: It rained a little during the night.
- They grumbled a little about having to wait.
(b) with ‘unfavourable’ adjectives and adverbs:
- a little anxious
- a little unwillingly
- a little annoyed
- a little impatiently
(c) with comparative adjectives or adverbs:
- The paper should be a little thicker.
- Can’t you walk a little faster?
rather could replace a little in (b) and can also be used before comparatives, though a little is more usual. In colloquial English, a bit could be used instead of a little in all the above examples.
2. little is used chiefly with better or more in fairly formal style:
- His second suggestion was little (= not much) better than his first.
- He was little (= not much) more than a child when his father died.
It can also, in formal English, be placed before certain verbs, for example, expect, know, suspect, think:
- He little expected to find himself in prison.
- He little thought that one day…
Note also the adjectives little-known and little-used:
- a little-known painter
- a little-used footpath
many and much (adjectives and pronouns)
(A) many and much
many (adjective) is used before countable nouns.
much (adjective) is used before uncountable nouns:
- He didn’t make many mistakes.
- We haven’t much coffee.
They have the same comparative and superlative forms more and most:
- more mistakes/coffee
- most men/damage
many, much, more, most can be used as pronouns:
- He gets a lot of letters but she doesn’t get many.
- You have a lot of free time but I haven’t much.
more and most can be used quite freely, and so can many and much, with negative verbs (see above examples). But many and much with affirmative or interrogative verbs have restricted use.
- many and much with affirmative verbs
many are possible when preceded (i.e. modified) by a good/a great. Both are possible when modified by so/as/too.
- I made a good many friends there.
- He has had so many jobs that…
- She read as much as she could.
- They drink too much (gin).
When not modified, many, an object or part of the object, is usually replaced by a lot/lots of (+ noun) or by a lot or lots (pronouns). much, an object or part of the object is usually replaced by a great/good deal of (+ noun) or a great/good deal (pronouns):
- I saw a lot/lots of seabirds. I expect you saw a lot too.
- He spends a lot/lots of/a great deal of money on his house.
As subject or part of the subject, either many or a lot (of) etc. can be used, but much here is normally replaced by one of the other forms. much, however, is possible in formal English:
- Much will depend on what the minister: says.
Compare negative and affirmative sentences:
- He hasn’t won many races.
- You’ve won a lot/lots of races or You’ve won a lot of
- You’ve won a great many (races).
- He didn’t eat much fruit.
- She ate a lot/lots of fruit/a great deal of fruit or
- She ate a lot/a great deal.
many and much with interrogative verbs
Both can be used with how: How many limes? How much? In questions where how is not used, many are possible, but a lot (of) etc. is better when an affirmative answer is expected:
- Did you take a lot of photos? I expect you did.
much without how is possible but the other forms are a little more usual:
- Did you have a lot of snow/much snow last year?
(D) Interrogative adjectives and pronouns
For persons: subject who (pronoun)
object whom, who (pronoun)
possessive whose (pronoun and adjective)
For things: subject/object what (pronoun and adjective)
For persons or things when the choice is restricted:
subject/object which (pronoun and adjective)
The same form is used for singular and plural.
(E) Possessive: my, you’re, his, her, its, our, your, they’re
Possessive adjectives and pronouns
Possessive adjectives Possessive pronouns
Note that no apostrophes are used here. Students should guard against the common mistake of writing the possessive its with an apostrophe. it’s (with an apostrophe) means it is.
The old form of the second person singular can be found in some Bibles and pre-twentieth century poetry:
One’s is the possessive adjective of the pronoun one.
(F) Adjective Of quality: clever, dry, fat, golden, good, heavy, square
Order of adjectives of quality
Several variations are possible but a fairly usual order is: adjectives of
(a) size (except little; but see C below)
(b) general description (excluding adjectives of personality, emotion etc.)
(c) age, and the adjective little (see B)
(h) purpose (these are really gerunds used to form compound nouns: walking stick, riding boots).
- a long sharp knife
- a small round bath
- new hexagonal coins
- blue velvet curtains
- an old plastic bucket
- an elegant French clock
Adjectives of personality /emotion come after adjectives of physical description, including dark, fair, pale, but before colours:
- a small suspicious official
- along patient queue
- a pale anxious girl
- a kindly black doctor
- an inquisitive brown dog
(B) little, old and young are often used, not to give information, but as part of an adjective-noun combination. They are then placed next to their nouns:
- Your nephew is a nice little boy.
- That young man drives too fast.
the little + old + noun is possible: a little old lady. But little + young is not.
When used to give information, old and young occupy the position (c) above:
- a young coloured man
- an old Welsh Harp
Adjectives of personality/emotion can precede or follow young/old:
- a young ambitious man
- an ambitious young man
young in the first example carries stronger stress than young in the second, so the first order is better if we wish to emphasize the age.
little can be used similarly in position (c):
- a handy little calculator
- an expensive little hotel
- a little sandy beach
- a little grey foal
But small is usually better than little if we want to emphasize the size.
(C) fine, lovely, nice, and sometimes beautiful, + adjectives of size (except little), shape and temperature usually express approval of the size etc. If we say a beautiful big room, a lovely warm house, nice/fine thick steaks we imply that we like big rooms, warm houses and thick steaks.
fine, lovely and nice can be used similarly with a number of other adjectives:
- fine strong coffee
- a lovely quiet beach
- a nice dry day
When used predicatively, such pairs are separated by and:
- The coffee was fine and strong.
- The day was nice and dry.
beautiful is not much used in this sense as a predicative adjective.
(D) pretty followed by another adjective with no comma between them is an adverb of degree meaning very/quite: She’s a pretty tall girl means She is quite/very tall. But a pretty, tall girl or, more usually, a tall, pretty girl means a girl who is both tall and pretty.