Developing a comprehensive list of descriptive adjectives for the English language would be a formidable task. English is a language that welcomes modifiers with open arms. While there are a finite amount of words from which to choose from, writers and speakers of English are presented with what seems like an infinite amount of descriptive possibilities. When you begin to factor in how descriptive adjectives can be combined, it becomes apparent that writers and speakers of English are limited only by their imagination when it comes to using descriptive adjectives.
Adjectives are words that function to describe nouns. Specifically, adjectives describe the action, state, or quality that nouns refer to. Descriptive adjectives are the largest class of the four types of adjectives, the others being adjectives of quantity, demonstrative adjectives, and pronominal adjectives.
A list of descriptive adjectives can be organized into three categories to help writers and speakers better manage and understand this large class of words.
Simple adjectives, as their name suggests, are the most basic type of descriptive adjectives. They function to express quality. Aspects such as feelings, time, sound, quantity, taste, appearance, size, age, color, shape, and material are expressed through simple adjectives. The following table highlights some common examples:
swift ancient modern bitter sweet tan beige chestnut alert attractive sticky fuzzy giant teeny massive careful cheap expensive good bad bumpy cool few rainy solid cotton crystal round square triangular sore dangerous safe combative weary dull drab dim aggressive mellow fancy excited scared filthy superior lazy excited hungry crazy sane new fresh yellow red blue average graceful plain unusual light purple green wooden plastic woolen soft hard harsh melodic whispering puny harsh noisy quiet shrill hollow low widen arrow crooked oval octagonal teak oak granite pink orange brown black white wrong right poor rich busy happy sad tired alert anxious steep shallow fat skinny petite cold sharp wet dry dusty long short strong weak shy big small large tiny miniscule salty sour tart delicious hot better terrible dead alive wild huge tremendous young old elderly handsome ugly beautiful clear shiny
Compound adjectives are created when two words are combined to create a descriptive adjective. The two words are typically connected with a hyphen. The following table provides some common examples of compound adjectives:
The following table lists a number of these descriptive adjectives that are derived from proper nouns. Nations, regions, and religions are common qualities described by proper adjectives. Because they are derived from proper nouns, proper adjectives are always capitalized. For example:
Italian French English Indonesian Mayan Mexican Canadian Roman Christian Chinese German American Buddhist Hindu Spanish Greek Turkish Romanian Californian Cuban Atlantic Pacific Antarctic Ecuadorian Peruvian
When using multiple descriptive adjectives in a sentence, there is an order in which they should be arranged. Adjectives that describe opinion typically preceded adjectives that describe color, size, shape, etc. For example, the sentence "The ugly red chair sat in the corner," is preferable to "The red ugly chair sat in the corner."
In addition, adjectives are usually arranged in a sentence from those that are more general in scope to those that are more specific. For example, "The big Egyptian mask hanging on the wall," is preferable to "The Egyptian big mask hanging on the wall," and "The blue silken curtains hanging in the bedroom," is preferable to "The silken blue curtains hanging in the bedroom."
Writers and speakers can refer to a list of descriptive adjectives for ideas on how to better explain the action, state, or quality that a noun in a sentence refers to. Understanding that there are three main types of descriptive adjectives can provide further insight on how these important words can be used. With a good descriptive adjective resource and a little creativity, you can begin to add more flavor to your ideas when speaking or writing in English.