1.2 Adjectives

2. Adjectives

Attributive Adjective, Copular Verb, Predicative Adjective, Descriptive Adjective, Evaluative Adjective, Emotive Adjective, Comparative Adjective, Superlative Adjective, Adjective Phrase

What is an Adjective?

And adjective is a word which fills one of the following spaces in a sentence:

The man is ______.

The ______ man climbed a tree.

The first sentence is an example of a predicative adjective, where the adjective is linked to the noun it is describing with the copular verb “is”.


The second sentence is an example of an attributive adjective, where the adjective simply premodifies the noun.


An alternative definition of an adjective is any word which modifies a noun.

What is the difference between the two uses of an adjective, predicative and attributive? On what grounds would an author chose between one form and the other?

The man is stupid.

The stupid man climbed a tree.

The purpose of the first sentence is simply to communicate a particular quality of the sentence’s subject. However, the purpose of the second sentence is primarily to tell us what the subject did i.e. climbed a tree, that the subject is stupid is a secondary consideration. If you want to get across the subject’s stupidity, or any other quality, to the exclusion of all other information, opt for the former of these two.


Adjectives are either descriptive e.g. “big”, evaluative e.g. “good” or emotive e.g. “horrible” – or a combination of these types. For example, “horrible” could be said to be evaluative as well as emotive and the adjective “big” can be evaluative as well as descriptive in some contexts.


Adjectives are made comparative with the addition of the suffix “-er” or by the use of the word “more”, whilst superlatives use “est” or “most”.


An adjective phrase is any phrase which takes the place or does the job of an adjective in a sentence.


  1. Write lists of twelve descriptive, emotive and descriptive nouns.
  2. What texts can be made from each list?
  3. Circle the adjectives and adjective phrases in the following text
  4. For each adjective used in the text a number of others have been rejected – why did the author opt for each adjective in the text?
  5. Use these adjectives in a text with a different purpose and audience – e.g. a restaurant review or a school report or the lyrics of a heavy metal track.


The Orient Express: Hang on, Mum, I’m not sure we’re on the right train

Kate Simon Sunday Independent, 21 September 2008

I’m on the wrong train! I’m about to depart Venice Santa Lucia for London Victoria on the Venice Simplon Orient Express to report on the 125th anniversary of the great European rail route. Yet the real Orient Express – pardonnez moi, the Express d’Orient – which first departed Paris’s Gare de l’Est for Constantinople in October 1883, will leave Strasbourg at 10.20pm tonight bound for Vienna.

According to The Man in Seat Sixty-One – whose website is the authority on the iron horse, so he should know – the original service continues to ride the rails, but this is not it. The real Orient Express is the one that had its route cut short of Istanbul in 1977, then right back to Vienna in 2001, and since 2007 has whizzed passengers along the stretch between Paris and Strasbourg on the new high-speed TGV Est.

It seems the Strasbourg-Vienna train is the true heir. Why, some of the staff are still in the employ of the original operator, the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits. And there are benefits to travelling on it, too, says Mr Sixty-One, like the fact that you don’t have to pay out big bucks – you can even use an InterRail pass – and you can get your head down on a couchette if your budget can’t quite stretch to a sleeping car.

Do I care? This is the right train for my purpose; I’m going in search of the spirit of this journey not its provenance. I want to discover what it’s like aboard the glamorous Orient Express that lives in our collective imagination, an experience only enacted on the train put into service in 1982 by James Sherwood, the former boss of Sea Containers, who knew how to turn a profit out of a fantasy.

That’s why I’m boarding this train from London to Venice, (one of a range of routes offered), accompanied by my mum, who has won the golden ticket to join me on this jolly because it is her 80th birthday. She doesn’t mind if it’s not the Orient Express. She would far rather travel on this shiny royal-blue one with its sharply uniformed stewards.

Mum likes the mahogany panels with marquetry in pretty Art Deco floral designs. She likes the little cabinet in the corner with its old-fashioned washbasin. She even likes the geometrical shapes in the chrome luggage racks (well, I did have to point those out). But, most of all, she’s very comfortable on the settee-cum-bed, with its big cushion and broderie anglaise antimacassars, and will be quite happy sitting here watching the Alps go by, thank you very much.

Our surroundings are indeed splendid, the result of the £11m and 23,000 man hours invested in refurbishing the authentic Wagons-Lits LX-class carriages, which date from the Twenties and Thirties.

First, they took off the sides and the roof to check the soundness of the structure of each of the 11 sleeping cars, three dining cars, bar car and two service cars that make up the quarter-of-a-mile-long train.

Then they adjusted the bogies and suspension and reinforced the brakes, replaced the bearing boxes and batteries, updated the electrics, plumbing and heating, modified the kitchen and found room for wine cellars and linen storage, re-upholstered the seats and beds, and brought the train up to today’s safety standards.

Of course, these improvements are not obvious to the eye, but they are felt in the smooth running of the train. More apparent to passengers is the careful restoration of the interiors, especially in the three dining cars, which feature the work of several Art Deco designers, including Rene Lalique, whose panels of glass depicting bacchanalian maidens decorate the exotically named Cote d’Azur restaurant carriage.

We have three sit-down meals to eat before reaching the English Channel – when our journey will be rudely interrupted as we are disgorged on to a coach to travel on Eurotunnel before joining the equally attractive British Pullman for the final leg of our journey – so passengers get the chance to take a closer look at his work and that of the other craftsmen, over dinner or lunch here and in the Etoile du Nord and Chinoise dining cars.

This tourist train is no imposter: if the authenticity of the carriages isn’t persuasive enough, its inspiration is clearly the Simplon Orient Express – the star of Agatha Christie’s great mystery, Murder on the Orient Express. One of a network of routes spawned by the Express d’Orient, between 1919 and 1962 the Simplon Orient Express provided a glamourous way to travel from Calais to Paris, Milan, Venice, Trieste, Zagreb, Sofia, Athens, Istanbul and variations therein.

2 thoughts on “1.2 Adjectives

    • figurative language is any expression where what you write is not literally the case… e.g. “the sun is a monster” – the sun is not a monster, so why say so? the implication is that the sun is somehow like a monster, and your reader will straight away start to figure out how. saying “the sun is like a monster” – a simile, rather than a metaphor (both types of figurative language), make that comparison explicit. figurative language features in all kinds of good writing, from today’s newspaper prose to the oldest poetry in all languages

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