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Functions of Adjectives


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Functions of Adjectives

Basics on the topic Functions of Adjectives

Functions of Adjectives

What are adjectives and their functions? How to use an adjective in a sentence? In this article, you will read about the functions of adjectives and learn how to use adjectives. Learn all about functions of adjectives and find more than 10 examples of adjectives in a sentence in our video, activities, and worksheets!

Adjectives – Definition

An adjective is one of the parts of speech that describes and modifies a noun to communicate a clearer message.

Here are a few examples of adjectives:

  • beautiful
  • gigantic
  • upset

Adjectives like these help us paint a clearer picture when we talk, and make the nouns more interesting. They help the writer create vivid descriptions and paint a picture with words. Compare these two sentences:

Sentence without an Adjective Sentence with an Adjective
I saw a house. I saw a beautiful house.

This is an example of how the adjective used in a sentence helps us understand more about the noun house and communicates a clearer idea about what the house looked like.

It is always good to use sensory language to evoke emotions, but remember to balance description and brevity.

Adjectives – Functions

What can an adjective do in a sentence?

Adjectives can be used to make nouns more interesting and add more information about them, and adjectives have different functions such as:

  • describing feelings of qualities
  • giving nationality or origin
  • telling more about a noun’s characteristics
  • telling us about size and age
  • showing color, shape, and material
  • describing a judgment or a value


Here are some examples:

Feelings or Qualities Nationality or Origin Noun’s Characteristics Size and Age Color, Shape, and Material Judgment or Value
a happy child an American tourist a patient doctor a small new computer a pink rectangular cardboard box a funny joke
a hardworking person a Victorian dress a powerful car a large old donut a green round glass vase an easy test

How to Use Adjectives in a Sentence?

Now let’s learn to use adjectives in a sentence. How to use an adjective in a sentence? When we use adjectives together with nouns to describe or modify them, we often place an adjective before the noun. Look at this example of an adjective in a sentence:

Adjective Noun
I need to buy some colorful ribbons.

As you can see, the adjective colorful is placed before the noun ribbons.

Let’s practice! What is an adjective in this sentence: We saw a tiny rabbit in the woods.?

The adjective in this sentence is tiny. It describes the noun rabbit and is placed before it.

Sometimes we use adjectives together with the verb to be. These adjectives are called predicate adjectives. See example:

Noun Verb to be Adjective
My sister is tall.

In this case, we place an adjective after the verb to be.

Let’s practice! What is an adjective example in this sentence: That exam was really challenging.?

The adjective in this sentence is challenging. It describes the noun exam and is placed after the verb to be.

Adjectives – Summary

Adjectives are words that describe or modify nouns. They help to communicate a clearer picture and make nouns more interesting.

Adjectives can describe feelings of qualities, give nationality or origin, tell more about a noun’s characteristics, size and age, show color, shape, and material, and describe a judgment or a value.

In a sentence, adjectives are usually placed before nouns they modify. If an adjective is used with the verb to be, it is called a predicate adjective, and is placed after the verb to be.

Now you know everything about the functions of adjectives! You will be able to answer the question “What's an adjective in a sentence?” without any doubt! If you want more practice, watch our video, and use our adjectives worksheets!

Additional Information About Adjectives

Frequently Asked Questions about Adjectives

What is an adjective?
What does an adjective do in a sentence?
Where does an adjective usually go in a sentence?
What is a predicate adjective in a sentence?
How to find an adjective in a sentence?

Transcript Functions of Adjectives

Koko has a new 'Dreams into Virtual Reality' headset, and is using it to explain her dream to Pip! Let's observe Koko's dream with Pip! [Pip:][unimpressed] "Honestly Koko, the way you described it was a little...bland and boring." [Koko:][narrating her dream as we watch from Pip's point of view] "I was in the boondocks. Looking around, I spotted an oasis. When I got there, I met a creature holding a detonator. Suddenly, they pressed it and transformed into Belvis, who is a musician. Before he started to perform, I woke up." [Koko:] "Did you see how AMAZING everything looked Pip?!" Let's help Koko create a better visual by learning about... [title] functions of adjectives. Adjectives DESCRIBE or MODIFY a noun to help communicate a clearer picture. Not only do adjectives paint a clearer picture, but they also make nouns more interesting! Let's look at some examples of the functions of adjectives. They can... describe feelings or qualities, such as: the LONELY cookie or a HARD-WORKING beaver... give nationality or origin, such as: Josh is MARTIAN or the dress is VICTORIAN... tell more about a noun's characteristics, such as: a POWERFUL sloth... tell us about size and age, such as: the LARGE OLD doughnut... share color, shape, and material, such as: a PINK RECTANGULAR CARDBOARD box... and describe judgment or a value, such as: a SILLY hat or an EASY test. Now that we know the functions of adjectives, let's use them to modify the nouns from Koko's dream to make them more interesting! Let's start with the first sentence, it says: I was in the BLANK boondocks. Since there are SO many adjectives we can use, let's use this adjective word bank to help us! Which adjective would you choose to go in the blank? (...) Since Koko is recounting the origin, or where her dream began, we would choose AUSTRAILIAN to describe 'boondocks'. The next sentence says: Looking around, I spotted a BLANK and BLANK oasis. Which adjectives would you choose to describe an oasis that is made up of plants? (...) We can choose the color GREEN and the characteristic LUSH. Let's try another. The sentence says: When I got there, I met a BLANK and BLANK creature with a BLANK BLANK detonator. Which adjectives would you choose to describe the creature and detonator? (...) We can use the size SMALL and the quality ECCENTRIC to describe the creature... and the shape SQUARE and the material METAL to describe the detonator. The last sentence says: Suddenly, they pressed it and transformed into a BLANK Belvis, who is a BLANK musician. Which adjectives would you choose to go in the blanks? (...) YOUNG can be used to describe Belvis' age and FANTASTIC can be used to express judgment about his career as a musician. Here's a challenge for YOU! Share your own version of Koko's dream in the comments below using YOUR OWN adjectives! Remember, (...) adjectives help describe nouns more clearly AND they make them more interesting! Adjectives can be used to... "describe feelings or qualities, (...) give nationality or origin, (...) tell more about a noun's characteristics, (...) tell us about size and age, (...) share color, shape, and material(...) and describe judgment or a value." [Pip:] "Wow, Koko, your dream was far-out!" [Pip looks at Koko, and Koko is actually Belvis] [Koko:] [Elvis voice] "Thank you, thank you very much."


Functions of Adjectives exercise

Would you like to apply the knowledge you’ve learned? You can review and practice it with the tasks for the video Functions of Adjectives.
  • Which of the following are functions of adjectives?


    There are 6 correct options.

    Here are some examples we saw in the video of the different functions. Read them and see which function it might fulfill. The adjectives are in bold.

    • lonely cookie
    • Victorian dress
    • powerful sloth
    • large, old donut
    • pink, rectangular cardboard box
    • easy test

    Think about the examples in hint 2. Do any one them tell an action? An action is a verb. So, you can eliminate that option.


    The 6 functions of an adjective are:

    • Describe feelings or qualities (lonely cookie)
    • Give nationality or origin (Victorian dress)
    • Tell more about a noun's characteristics (powerful sloth)
    • Tell about size and age (large, old donut)
    • Share color, shape and material (pink, rectangular cardboard box)
    • Describe judgment or value (easy test)

  • How can we describe a person?


    There are some extra words, be sure to read it over and make sure the words you have highlighted are describing words or adjectives.

    Example: The teacher gave an easy test.

    Easy is a value adjective because it refers to the difficulty of the test. For the writer of this sentence, the test was easy.

    There are 7 adjectives to find and highlight.

    • Samantha is an American citizen - People from the USA are American
    • She is an artistic girl - Samantha likes painting, crocheting, and drama, which may make this her characteristic
    • she loves to make colorful artwork - Refers to the characteristic of her artwork
    • She is a short person who will grow as she gets older - Refers to her size
    • She has long, brown hair - Refers to the length and color of her hair
    • Her favorite t-shirt - Describes the value of her t-shirt
  • Finding functions of adjectives.


    Some of the sentences have more than one adjective. Are there any categories that require more than one adjective?

    Let's try an example together!

    Looking around, I spotted a green and lush oasis. Green and lush are the adjectives used to describe the oasis. They best match the function of describing characteristics of plants found in the oasis.

    • Koko was a surprised koala. Surprised is the adjective used to describe Koko, the koala's feelings. It best matches the function of describing feelings or qualities.
    • Football is an English sport. English is the adjective used to describe football, the sport's origin. It best matches the function of giving nationality or origin.
    • An unusual tree stood in the forest. Unusual is the adjective used to describe the characteristic of the tree. It best matches the function of telling more about the characteristics of a noun.
    • There was a small, young child sitting on the slide. Small and young are the adjectives used to describe the size and age of the child. It best matches the function of telling about size and age.
    • Pip had a blue, round plastic ball. Blue, round, and plastic are the adjectives used to describe the color, shape, and material of the ball. It best matches the function of sharing color, shape, and material.
    • Koko and Pip tell fantastic stories. Fantastic is the adjective used to describe a value of Koko and Pip's stories. It best matches the function of describing a judgment or value.
  • Complete the story.


    In the first image, the different functions of the adjective used are:

    • Nationality - Where is that flag from that Koko is looking at?
    • Color - What color is Pip's helmet?
    • Judgment - How could we describe the squirrel? Small, fluffy, and what else?
    • Characteristic - Look at the squirrel's cheeks. They are full, which makes them look how?
    Think about this and place the adjectives where they best make sense.

    In the second image, the different functions of the adjective used are:

    • Feeling - How does the elephant look? Is he scared?
    • Characteristic - Juggling isn't easy. Which adjective might be used to describe someone who can do something difficult well?
    • Shape - Which adjective describes the shape of the balls?
    Think about this and place the adjectives where they best make sense.


    1) Koko was learning about the Spanish (origin) flag from a video. While she was looking at the video Pip got on the swing. He was wearing a pink (color) metal helmet to protect his head. A cute (judgment) squirrel sat on the ladder. Its fat (characteristic) cheeks showed it was eating its afternoon snack.

    2) The frightened (feeling) elephant watched as the talented (characteristic) monkey juggled. The monkey had green, round (shape) balls.

  • What is an adjective?


    Think about how we use adjectives. Do they add information and make a sentence interesting or not?

    Look at the example below. Does it become more clear what is happening with the adjective?

    WITHOUT ADJECTIVES: The moon shines in the sky.

    WITH ADJECTIVES: The bright, round moon shines in the sky.


    An adjective describes or modifies a noun to help communicate a clearer picture or make nouns more interesting.

  • Identify the correct function of the adjective.


    We are focusing on these functions of an adjective:

    • Feelings, qualities, or characteristics
    • Nationality or origin
    • Color, shape, or material

    Remember the difference between feelings or qualities and characteristics.

    • Feelings or qualities describe how a noun is feeling or acting in a concrete moment. This can change.
    • Characteristics describe a part of the noun's way of being. This cannot change.
    This can sometimes be difficult to decide, so we are highlighting them both in green.

    • Green: Feelings, qualities, or characteristics
    • Yellow: Nationality or origin
    • Violet: Color, shape, or material
    • American is the origin of the flag (yellow)
    • white is the color of the flags stars (violet)
    • red is the color of the flag's stripes (violet)
    • hungry is how the monkey feels (green)
    • round is the shape of his tummy (violet)
    • abundant describes how to characterize his banana supply (green)
    • black and square share the color and shape of the box (violet).
    • lazy tells the characteristic of the crooks (green)
    • angry describe the feeling behind the groans of the unsuccessful crooks (green)
    • inquisitive describes the boy's characteristic (green)
    • Mexican tells the origin of the books the boy likes best (yellow)
    • hard-cover tells the material of the books he collects (violet)