A message void of adjectives is the least expressive one. Therefore adjectives are somehow the backbone of any expression we want to make accurate and clear in encoding the message. Adjectives help us respect real and straight communication rules. So, do you "adjective" your messages so well that people can understand you well?
Without referring to the traditional definition of adjectives you can find in any dictionary, let's make our way into talking about the standard role of adjectives in language. In English the adjective is multi-functional. It is used essentially to describe an object but, in general, it is meant to enrich and clarify ideas and lead the interlocutors to communicate eloquently. Adjectives, thus, are seen in terms of six main kinds. They are as follows:
This sentence seems stiff and dull. It may make you respond to it indifferently because the speaker is giving a vague idea about the car he had bought. His sentence doesn't really carry a complete well-spoken idea. What the speaker needs to make his sentence expressive, attractive and provoking, is by relying on adjectives to colour it and present it in a beautiful structure. Now compare the first sentence with the following.
The image is getting a little clearer with the adjective "red". Now we know something new about the car. It is not yellow or black, it is rather red. However, actually, it is not yet fully clear enough for us to form a complete image about the car so as to estimate or underestimate it. Therefore, one sentence can bear as many adjectives as you like, provided that they don't raise misunderstanding or confuse the listener. Yet, the speaker should normally respect the appropriate organisation of adjectives in a sentence.
The sentence in its new structure gives more information about the car. We, lucky as we are, have the opportunity to know that the car in question is not a big one. Thanks to this adjective we become able to make our image of the car a little bit clearer though some more details are still in need. These details cannot be provided, so to speak, unless other adjectives come to complete the image in our minds. The structural issue, on the other hand, is to justify the placement of the adjective "small" before the adjective "red". Why couldn't we say instead: [Yesterday, I bought a red small car]? This form is inaccurate. The word ordering, in a sentence, is not moody at all. The accuracy of the sentence here is controlled by the respect of this order, notably: "shape = small" then "colour = red" but not vice versa. Now suppose the speaker intends to praise his car and decides that the adjective 'beautiful' is the most suitable to give his opinion about it, what shall he do? Where shall he place it among the previously stated adjectives? Look at how the sentence should be structured:
All these details are boring but unavoidable to make the structure more formal and accurate. The 'beautiful' adjective, on the other hand, is quite interesting in the making of the image. It is not a piece of evidence but it is simply an opinion that could differ from any one else's. The rule says that the opinion is always initial when a range of adjectives are used that's why the speaker places his 'beautiful' opinion adjective first. The adjective describes it as beautiful and this opinion is essentially contributing in depicting an almost complete picture. And that's not all. Our sentence is able to bear as more adjectives as we wish but under the very specific conditions we are trying to clarify here. Now let's go on imagining this famous car as being made in Japan. How can the speaker introduce this new important information?
The beautiful small car is made in Japan, which we didn't know before the use of the adjective "Japanese". It improves the picture of the car in our minds and also in the way we conceive the object. The car hasn't got an American or European origin. It is simply Japanese. The newly introduced adjective has to be placed at the end of the list of adjectives already stated. However, it is not the last in the order. Another adjective, notably the one which gives us information about the material with which the car was constructed, is the last ring of the chain. That's amazing, isn't it? Let's go on with it and see the way we are placing the new adjective,
We've finally reached a quite complete image of this famous car. In English it is not, normally, allowed to go beyond these five adjectives in a sentence. Their variety is supposed to be enough to make any described object lavishly clear. Therefore, any more adjectives of quality in one single sentence generally lead to ambiguity or distortion of the image. That's greatly enough like this. The construction of a syntactically correct structure of a sentence, in which the adjectives are the basis of transmitting a complete clear message, implies the use of the specific number of adjectives; each of which has to refer you to a piece of information complete in itself but a brick completing the others. It means that no adjectives of the same category should be used more than once. Hence our sentence is, eventually, arranged as follows.
As you can see in these sentences, as well as in the former ones, each pair of adjectives is separated by a comma (,). When there are more than one adjective before the noun in a sentence, we usually use commas except for adjectives of colour which we separate by "and" instead. e.g.:
Adjectives are used to carry the specific meaning we intend to convey in many different ways. I mean that the same adjective can have more than one meaning depending on the context. It is not the same in all situations. The adjectives of quality have the ability as to "metamorphose" in their implications once their context has been changed. I mean that they can go from the proper meaning to the figurative one and the same adjective can mean two different things in two different contexts. For example the adjective "pretty" means "attractive" but in another context, it means "fine or good". The adjective "rich", also, has got this quality. It can be used for more than one meaning. Here is a usual example:
1. That's a rich man. (He is wealthy; he's got a lot of money).
2. That's a rich book. (There are a lot of interesting ideas and insights in it).
Sometimes the adjectives turn to be rigid and one adjective is used only for specific purpose and cannot be used for others though they share the same quality. Look at this example:
-/ My uncle is the tall man in the middle.
A man is "tall"; but what about a building or a mountain? Can we attribute the adjective "tall" to them, too? No, another adjective is quite more suitable because it is more expressive and accurate in this situation, it is "high":
-/ A high building / mountain.
To begin with, there are two main categories of adjectives: LONG and SHORT ones. Long adjectives are characterized by the number of syllables which exceeds two (with exceptions of course). e.g.: expensive, comfortable, interesting, intelligent... etc. Whereas short adjectives are made up of no more than two syllables for example: dark, big, hot, clean, dirty... etc.
We habitually use adjectives in many situations in different styles according to what idea we want to convey; and how we want it to look like so as to carry a message clear enough to decode easily. We sometimes need to compare between people who share the same quality or one is inferior or superior to another in a quality, a trait or a virtue. The same thing can be said about objects, ideas and others. In cases as such we have normally to rely greatly on:
*/ The dog is intelligent. The cat is intelligent, too.
*/ I think, the cat is as intelligent as the dog.
The two pets are seen to be equal in their intelligence faculty thanks to the adjective "intelligent" assisted by the expression "as...as". This structure can bear both short and long adjectives without exceptions. You can make as many sentences as you like thanks to the easy rules of this structure [as+adjective+as]:
*/ The boy is as tall as his father. */ The girl is as beautiful as her mother.
The adjective of quality greatly appreciates and enjoys being between these two lovely twins "as ... as" to the extent that some idioms are made of this team:
*/ Casablanca is a big city. Rabat is a big city, too. But Rabat is not as big as Casablanca.
From this sentence we infer that Rabat is inferior to Casa or that Casablanca is superior to Rabat in surface. So this sentence is either:
We'll see these new forms in details right now and we will start with,
*/ The book is more interesting than the film.
*/ A car is more comfortable than a donkey back.
*/ The plane is the most expensive means of transport.
*/ This is the most exciting film I've ever seen.
Here is an illustrative table:
Unlike long adjectives, short adjectives are divided into groups depending on their spelling. Some of them take "-er" at the end but some others take it with some more modifications on the root word itself. These tables explain when and how. There are at least FIVE categories:
These five forms have got five different spelling ways. With short adjective comparatives, we usually use "-er" -as shown in the tables above- at the end of the adjective to make the comparison expressive, e.g.:
1. Salwa is 20. Ali is only 15, but Brahim is 22. So Salwa is older than Ali, but Brahim is the oldest of the three.
2. Rabat is larger than Tangiers. But Casablanca is larger than both Rabat and Tangiers. It is the largest of them.
3. July is hotter than April. But August is the hottest month of the year.
4. Nadia is pretty. Leila is prettier than Nadia whereas Aisha is the prettiest of them all.
5. Irregular comparisons:
5.a: [good] Your idea is better than mine. But the old man's is the best of all.
5.b: [far] Marrakesh is farther from Rabat than Casablanca. But Dakhla is the furthest city to the south.
(NB: "farther" of distance only while "further" is of distance and time)
5.c: [bad] Laziness is worse than ignorance. Laziness is rather the worst characteristic in a person.
All in all, if we wanted the way leading to the other meticulous locations of the adjective described, it would be better to quote a funny character 'Tony' in Oliver Goldsmith's play She Stoops to Conquer Act I; Scene ii :