Log In Start studying!

Select your language

Suggested languages for you:
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|

Adjective Phrase

Adjective Phrase

Phrases are an essential part of the English language and are the building blocks of all sentences. There are five main types of phrases in English: noun phrases, adjective phrases, verb phrases, adverb phrases, and prepositional phrases. Today we will be looking at adjective phrases.

This article will introduce adjective phrases and explain how to identify them. It will then discuss the structure of adjective phrases, including the use of modifiers and provide plenty of examples.

What is an Adjective Phrase?

Typically, an adjective phrase is a group of words containing an adjective that describes a noun or a pronoun in a sentence - this means that an adjective phrase functions as an adjective in a sentence. Adjective phrases are a useful writing technique when you need to convey a lot in a few words, making them a commonly used literary tool in English.

Adjective phrases always consist of an adjective which is usually accompanied by other words that can add more information - we call these extra words modifiers. Adjective phrases can also be singular adjectives on their own.

Identifying adjective phrases

To identify an adjective phrase, you should locate a group of words within a sentence that describes a noun or pronoun. This can be tricky if the adjective phrase is hidden within a long and complicated sentence. To make it simple, we will break it down step by step.

Step 1. Find the adjective in the sentence. This is a word that describes a noun or pronoun.

E.g. 'The burger looks very appetising.' In this example, the adjective appetising describes the noun burger.

Step 2. See if the adjective is the only word describing the noun or if the description includes other surrounding words. If the description includes more than one word, then it's an adjective phrase.

E.g. 'The burger looks very appetising.' In this example, the adjective phrase is very appetising.

Step 3. Identify the 'head adjective' (main adjective). If the adjective can function by itself, it's described as the head of the adjective phrase.

E.g. 'The burger looks very appetising.' In this example, appetising still works as an adjective without the modifier very; therefore, it is the head adjective.

Step 4. Identify the modifiers. The words that work alongside the head adjective in an adjective phrase are called modifiers; these can be adverbs, prepositions, or other adjectives. Words that go before the head adjective are called premodifiers, and words that go after are called postmodifiers.

Adjective phrase Image of hamburgers StudySmarterFig 1. Adjective phrases can help us describe the burger

Structure of adjective phrases

The formation of adjective phrases typically involves the use of modifiers. Modifiers are words or phrases used alongside the main adjective, such as adverbs, prepositions, and comparative and superlative adjectives, to add more detail to the description of the noun. Adjective phrases can go before or after the noun. If they go before the noun, they are considered premodifiers, and if they go after, they are postmodifiers.

Adjective phrases as premodifiers

Premodifiers are usually a simple adjective or adverb phrase that is positioned before the head adjective.

He has short black hair.

Here, the adjective phrase 'short black' is a premodifier for the noun 'hair'.

Adjective phrases as postmodifiers

Adjective phrases as postmodifiers are often adverbs or prepositional phrases positioned after the noun.

He wanted the football on the top shelf.

The adjective phrase 'on the top shelf' is a postmodifier as it comes after the noun. The preposition 'on' has been used to describe the position of the noun (the football).

Types of adjective phrases

Adjective phrases typically contain an adjective and its modifiers (words that give extra detail). These modifiers are usually adverbs, prepositions, comparative and superlative adjectives, or additional adjectives. Let's look at some examples of adjective phrases containing different types of modifiers.

Adjective phrases with multiple adjectives

Adjective phrases can simply be a list of adjectives.

She had long, silky, flowing black hair.

Adjective phrases with comparative and superlative adjectives

Comparative adjectives compare one thing to another, whereas superlative adjectives show the upper or lower limit of an adjective.

The birch tree is taller than the ash tree.

The birch tree is the tallest tree in this forest.

Adjective phrases with prepositions

Adjective phrases with prepositions give us more information regarding where a noun is. They can also tell us when something is happening.

The cup is on the shelf.

The party is at 8 pm.

Adjective phrases with adverbs

Typically speaking, adverbs modify verbs; however, they can also be used to add more detail or intensity to an adjective.

Her eyes are shockingly blue.

Adjective phrase Image of a blue eye StudySmarterFig 2. The adverb 'shockingly' intensifies the adjective 'blue'

Examples of adjective phrases

Let's take a look at some examples of adjective phrase examples. We will use the same base sentence and expand upon it to show you how adjective phrases are used to add extra information to a noun.

"Bill is strong"

This is a simple adjective phrase that consists of a single adjective, 'strong'.

"Bill is very strong"

This adjective phrase includes the qualifier 'very'. The qualifier supplements the head adjective (strong), acting as an intensifier since it makes the adjective stronger.

"Bill is even stronger than all of the boys in his class."

This adjective phrase contains the comparative adjective 'stronger'. It gives us even more information about Bill by comparing him to the other boys in the class.

The difference between a noun phrase and an adjective phrase

It can often be difficult to identify the difference between a noun phrase and an adjective phrase. So, let's take a look at the key differences.

The definitive difference between them is that a noun phrase acts as a noun while an adjective phrase acts as an adjective. This difference is important when we try to determine the function of each phrase.

A noun phrase functions as the subject or object of a sentence, while an adjective phrase acts by modifying a noun.

The key to identifying a noun or adjective phrase is to remember that a noun phrase can appear anywhere in a sentence, while an adjective phrase can only appear before or after a noun.

Take a look at the following two sentences. Which one contains an adjective phrase?

  1. He was scared of the black cat.

  2. I found a tiny little kitten.

The correct answer is sentence number two. In number one, the black cat is the noun phrase that comes after the adjective scared. In number two the adjective phrase tiny little is used to describe the noun kitten.

Adjective Phrase - Key takeaways

  • An adjective phrase is typically a group of words that acts as an adjective.
  • An adjective phrase describes or modifies a noun or a pronoun.
  • Adjective phrases can go before or after a noun acting as a premodifier or a postmodifier.
  • There are different types of adjective phrases such as Adjective phrases with multiple adjectives, adjective phrases with comparative and superlative adjectives, adjective phrases with prepositions, and adjective phrases with adverbs.
  • An example of an adjective phrase is, 'I have a cute, fluffy, yet naughty cat.'

Frequently Asked Questions about Adjective Phrase

An adjective phrase is a group of words that function as an adjective in a sentence.

To identify an adjective phrase, look for a group of words used to describe a noun or pronoun.

A noun phrase can appear anywhere in a sentence whereas an adjective phrase can only appear before or after a noun phrase.

The 'head adjective' is usually the main adjective that modifying words act upon.

Adjective phrases can be used to modify nouns or pronouns.

Adjective phrases are useful as they allow you to convey more information with fewer words, thus creating a sense of depth without having too many unnecessary words.

Final Adjective Phrase Quiz

Question

What are adjective phrases?

Show answer

Answer

A group of words that function as an adjective in a sentence.

Show question

Question

How can you identify an adjective phrase?


Show answer

Answer

Find a group of words used to describe a noun or pronoun.

Show question

Question

Which of the following is an adjective phrase?


Show answer

Answer

We are expecting rainy days.

Show question

Question

Find the words in the sentence that are adjective phrases: "The rich, sweet cake made me satisfied."

Show answer

Answer

Rich, sweet.

Show question

Question

Find the words in the sentence that are adjective phrases: "It was an exciting and thrilling journey".


Show answer

Answer

Exciting, thrilling.

Show question

Question

Find the words in the sentence that are adjective phrases: "The aggressive and cold manner he displayed made me scared."


Show answer

Answer

Aggressive, cold.

Show question

Question

Find the words in the sentence that are adjective phrases: "The hotel had small but luxurious rooms".


Show answer

Answer

Small, luxurious.

Show question

Question

Find the words in the sentence that are adjective phrases. "The tired and exhausted worker took a long break."


Show answer

Answer

Tired, exhausted.

Show question

Question

True or false: An adjective phrase can appear anywhere in a sentence.


Show answer

Answer

False. An adjective phrase can only appear before or after a noun.

Show question

Question

True or false: The head adjective in an adjective phrase modifies a noun.


Show answer

Answer

True.

Show question

Question

Name three different types of adjective phrases.

Show answer

Answer

Adjective phrases with adverbs

adjective phrases with prepositions

adjective phrases with multiple adjectives

adjective phrases with comparative and superlative adjectives. 

Show question

Question

Identify the adjective phrase:
'It was the biggest and brightest star in the sky.'

Show answer

Answer

'the biggest and brightest'

Show question

Question

What type of adjective phrase has been used here?
'It was the biggest and brightest star in the sky.'

Show answer

Answer

Adjective phrase with superlative adjectives.

Show question

Question

Identify the adjective phrase:

'This pie is deliciously scrumptious.'

Show answer

Answer

'deliciously scrumptious.'

Show question

Question

What type of adjective phrase has been used here?

'This pie is deliciously scrumptious.'

Show answer

Answer

Adjective phrase with an adverb.

Show question

Question

Identify the adjective phrase:

'My grandmother from Scotland loves shortbread.'

Show answer

Answer

'from Scotland'

Show question

Question

What type of adjective phrase has been used here?
'My grandmother from Scotland loves shortbread.'

Show answer

Answer

Adjective phrase with a preposition (from Scotland)

Show question

Question

Identify the adjective phrase:

'Mohamed is faster than his brother.'

Show answer

Answer

'is faster than his brother.'

Show question

Question

What type of adjective phrase has been used here?

'Mohamed is faster than his brother.'

Show answer

Answer

Adjective phrase with a comparative adjective. 

Show question

More about Adjective Phrase
60%

of the users don't pass the Adjective Phrase quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.

Get FREE ACCESS to all of our study material, tailor-made!

Over 10 million students from across the world are already learning smarter.

Get Started for Free
Illustration