Instructional Systems
Traditional English Grammar

Unit I
Parts of Speech Continued:
Adjectives and Adverbs


An adjective is a word that modifies a noun or pronoun. The word "modifies" literally means "changes." Adjectives clarify and qualify a noun.

Comparison of Adjectives

Adjectives can be compared. They have three degrees of comparison.

NOTE: More safer and most prettiest are incorrect. They are double comparisons. Usually single syllable and a few two syllable adjectives (lovely, lovelier, for example) are compared by adding -er or -est to the root word. Multi-syllable adjectives are compared by placing more or most before the positive form.

Function of Adjectives

Adjectives have several functions and forms in relation to their nouns:

Helpful Hints for Recognizing an Adjective

1. Become familiar with the several suffixes that give a word the quality of an adjective.

2. Find the noun or pronoun that the adjective tells about. If the word does not modify a noun or a pronoun, it is not an adjective.


An adverb is a word that modifies a verb, an adjective, or an adverb.

Adverbs as Modifiers

Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs; however, they can be placed almost anywhere in the sentence.

Adverbs Tell Time, Place, Condition, etc.

Adverbs tell when, where, how, how much. In the above sentences, frequently tells when, there tells where, carefully tells how, unusually and quite tell how much.

Adverb Endings

Many adverbs end in -ly. These are formed by adding the suffix -ly to a descriptive adjective.

But all words that end in -ly are not adverbs.

Some adjectives end in -ly: a lovely garden; a friendly neighborhood; a lonely old man.

Many adverbs do not end in -ly. Here are some common adverbs: how, then, there, often, never, again, quite, too, sometimes, always, already.

Adverbial Noun

Sometimes a noun is used as an adverb. This noun is called an adverbial noun.

Comparison of Adverbs

Like adjectives, adverbs can be compared.

NOTE: Only descriptive adverbs can be compared, and only a few of those can be compared with -er or -estendings. Near, far, early, fast, for example.

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