List of Descriptive Adjectives

Developing a full 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, 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 building a list of descriptive adjectives: simple, compound, and proper.

What are Adjectives?

Adjectives are words that describe nouns. Specifically, adjectives describe the action, state, or quality that nouns refer to.

Descriptive adjectives are the largest class of the three most prominent types of adjectives. The other two main types being quantitative and demonstrative adjectives.

To help get your own list up and running take a closer look at these examples of descriptive adjectives.

An Organized List of Descriptive Adjectives

A list of descriptive adjectives can be organized into three categories to help writers and speakers better manage this large class of words.

Simple Adjectives

Simple adjectives, as their name suggests, are the most basic kind 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:

aggressive

alert

alive

ancient

anxious

arrow

attractive

average

bad

beautiful

beige

better

big

bitter

black

blue

brown

bumpy

busy

careful

cheap

chestnut

clear

cold

combative

cool

cotton

crazy

crooked

crystal

dangerous

dead

delicious

dim

drab

dry

dull

dusty

elderly

excited

expensive

fancy

fat

few

filthy

fresh

fuzzy

giant

good

graceful

granite

green

handsome

happy

hard

harsh

hollow

hot

huge

hungry

large

lazy

light

long

low

massive

mellow

melodic

miniscule

modern

new

noisy

oak

octagonal

old

orange

oval

petite

pink

plain

plastic

poor

puny

purple

quiet

rainy

red

rich

right

round

sad

safe

salty

sane

scared

shallow

sharp

shiny

short

shrill

shy

skinny

small

soft

solid

sore

sour

square

steep

sticky

strong

superior

sweet

swift

tan

tart

teak

teeny

terrible

tiny

tired

tremendous

triangular

ugly

unusual

weak

weary

wet

whispering

white

wild

wooden

woolen

wrong

yellow

young

Compound Adjectives

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:

baby-faced

bow-legged

broken-hearted

bull-headed

candy-stripped

four-sided

freckle-faced

hard-hearted

hard-nosed

heavy-handed

high-heeled

ice-cold

left-handed

life-giving

long-legged

long-winded

next-door

pigeon-toed

red-blooded

self-centered

short-tempered

sure-footed

thin-skinned

tight-fisted

Proper Adjectives

The following table lists a number of 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:

American

Antarctic

Atlantic

Buddhist

Californian

Canadian

Chinese

Christian

Cuban

Ecuadorian

English

French

German

Greek

Hindu

Indonesian

Italian

Mayan

Mexican

Pacific

Peruvian

Roman

Romanian

Satanic

Spanish

Turkish

Victorian

Welsh

Putting Adjectives in Order

When using multiple descriptive adjectives in a sentence, there is an order in which they should be arranged. Adjectives that describe opinion typically precede 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 hung on the wall," is preferable to "The Egyptian, big mask hung on the wall," and "The blue, silken curtains are perfect in the bedroom," is preferable to "The silken, blue curtains are perfect in the bedroom."

Using Adjectives

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 personality to your writing. Speaking of which, enjoy this article: Examples of Personality Adjectives. It might help bring your characters to life!

List of Descriptive Adjectives: Simple, Compound, and ProperList of Descriptive Adjectives: Simple, Compound, and Proper

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