An adjective is a word that gives information about a noun.
We normally put adjectives before nouns:
- a beautiful flower
- a big dog
- a black cat
- a good person
- a small town
- an interesting book
- an amazing experience
- an old man
- an elegant lady
We change a to an before an adjective that starts with a vowel.
To express surprise or delight, use what a + adjective + singular noun:
- What a great day!
- What a tasty meal!
- What a cute baby!
With plural nouns, use what + adjective + plural noun:
- What great students!
- What kind people!
- What amazing views!
In sentences with no noun after an adjective, do not use
- I am hungry.
- Mary is thirsty.
- He is angry.
- We are patient.
It is possible to use the before a single adjective if you describe a whole group of people:
- In this country is the gap between the rich and the poor is very wide. (= all rich people and all poor people)
- Fortune favors the bold. (= all bold people)
- The English love tea. (= all English people)
- The French love wine. (= all French people)
- The Japanese love rice. (= all Japanese people)
BUT if a nationality adjective has the suffix “an/ian,” “er,” or “i,” we do not use the before it to describe a group of people:
- Canadians love hockey. (
- Americans love baseball. (
- New Zealanders love rugby. (
the New Zealander)
- Pakistanis are mostly Muslims. (
We often use adjectives to describe weather:
Use it’s (= it is) for present, it was – for past, and it will be – for future:
- It’s sunny today. But it was cloudy yesterday.
- It’s cloudy now. I hope it will be sunny later.
- It’s raining*. I hate rain!
- It’s snowing*. What a great day for a snow fight!
- It’s hot. But it was cool 2 days ago.
- It’s warm. I like such weather.
- It’s cool. But it will be cold tomorrow.
- It’s cold. A hat and a scarf are absolutely necessary today!
*It’s raining and it’s snowing are 2 sentences in the Present Continuous tense. It is the subject of each sentences, and is raining/snowing is the predicate. So, to rain and to snow are verbs that we can use in the Present Continuous in order to describe what is happening at the moment of speaking (e.g. It’s raining but I’m walking anyway or It’s snowing and we’re playing in the snow). To snow is the verb, and snowy is the adjective:
- I like snowy days.
- I love snowy winters.
To rain is the verb, and rainy is the adjective:
- It’s a cold rainy night.
- The weather is cold and rainy.
- I save money for a rainy day. (= a time of need or trouble)
When you are ready, read 2 related articles: “Weather English” and “Rain Vocabulary.”
ADJECTIVES FOR DESCRIBING PEOPLE & THINGS
- tall / short
- young / old
- heavy (fat) / thin
- new / old
- married / single
- handsome / ugly
- beautiful (pretty) / ugly
- large (big) / small (little)
- noisy (loud) / quiet
- expensive / cheap
- easy / difficult
- rich / poor
Practice: Complete the sentences with the right adjectives. The answer key is at the bottom of the page.
My name is Tom. I am 10 years old. I have a sister. Her name is Jane. She is 15 years old and she is quite a) ________. I am not. I can say I am a short boy.
I am b) ________, but I already know how to speak 2 languages and play a musical instrument. I can play the guitar. I am not very skillful yet, but my father teaches me every weekend.
My mother says I am too* c) ________ because I don’t eat enough. She says I like only sweets, but I just never feel hungry.
I have a cousin. Her name is Julia. She is a sales manager. Julia is not d) ________ now, but she has a boyfriend. They talk about marriage very often, and I think they want to get e) ________. I hope they will do it soon because I love weddings. Julia is very f) ________ – she has big blue eyes and long dark hair. She is also very smart and kind.
*Too + adjective:
- The film is too long. (I don’t like the fact that it is so long!)
- I am too ill to go to school. (I can’t go to school because I feel very bad.)
- It’s too hot to go outside. (The weather is extremely hot and we can’t go outside.)
- Your hair is too long. Can I cut it? (I don’t like the long hair and that’s why I want to cut it.)
Answer key: a) tall b) young c) thin d) married e) married f) beautiful/pretty