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Fun with Adjectives

The invisible adjective

Mubarak Abdessalami

            The adjectives are seen by grammarians as complementary parts of speech that just foster an utterance meaning, decorate it or give it a supplementary rhyme. But adjectives are so important that some questions depend completely on them to display meaningful language as only adjectives can answer it.

            We have previously talked about the marvels with which the adjective decorates language. In this paper we will make our way towards detecting the magic side of this part of speech. Some languages like Chinese are void of adjectives; what a pity!

            The intellectual magic of the adjective is so funny that we will see it in terms of two far from each other funny theories. The first explanation will take Philosophy as a medium whereas the second approach will borrow technology to explain the marvellous power of the adjective.


            The adjective of quality exists in some questions by force. Once the question is answered the adjective shows up and it exists by action. To illustrate let's use philosophy and compare the adjective existence to fire in a match. Philosophically speaking fire exists in a match in two ways, first when the match is virgin; the fire exists by force, which means that it needs some force (scratching) to show up. When scratch the match, fire immediately comes up. When the match is lit, obviously fire exists in the match by action. The questions in question are the host of the adjective passive or active. I admit it is hard to follow, yet with some practical examples things will get clearer. Before we can give examples let's check the other way of comparison, I mean the technological way.

Trojan Adjective

            We can compare the adjective to a virus in a software program. Like the Trojan horse virus the adjective is there until it is activated once the program file is open. So the virus dwells in the program passively but once you venture to use it the virus manifests immediately and becomes active. The activation of the virus depends greatly on your decision about what to do with the software.


            Do you know that some questions couldn't be answered but only by adjectives of quality? And, as you know, the adjectives of quality are largely meant to describe. Description however goes into categories. In this illustration, we'll deal only with two namely "appearance" and "personality" or "character". Suppose you want someone to describe someone else, your question should tell him or her if you wanted that person to describe the physical features or the qualities and virtues. The host questions are respectively:

  1. What does someone or something look like?
  2. What is someone or something like?

            The question number one once answered a range of special "appearance" descriptive adjectives are activated: tall, short, fat, obese, slim, thin, beautiful, handsome, pretty, good-looking, overweight, strong, weak, ugly and so on.
            The question number two on the other hand triggers personality imaging: hardworking, nice, nasty, nervous, shy, kind, helpful, smart, moody, intelligent, mad, crazy and so on.

            Do you have any idea about how many adjectives are hidden inside the following question?

   What's the weather like?   

            There are as many as forty without exaggeration. This is the most known question which represents an ideal lodge that provides the perfect nest for the adjective's hibernation. Once answered a flow of proper and figurative, broad and explicit adjectives burst out successively. And imagine people from all over the world answered your question; here is what you'd likely get:

Weather Adjectives


            Finally from philosophy to technology, the invisible adjective has always been good at keeping a comfortable web for its subsistence. It imposes itself whenever you want to describe or image someone or something. Your adjective repertoire should be rich otherwise you'll always come short in your answers.

More Adjectives