Positions of Attributive Adjectives in Sentences
An Attributive Adjective is part of a noun phraseOpens in new window and follows the nounOpens in new window directly, agreeing with it in genderOpens in new window, numberOpens in new window, caseOpens in new window, and definiteness.
Most English adjectives can go before, and modify, nouns, as in big houses, an expensive car and an original idea.
- the red sea.
- American athletes.
- the fertile land
- an easy win
- in a political role
In English, attributive adjectives occur before the head noun in a sentence and modify it.
Observe the following sentences.
- The slick painting is his.
- They employed a new secretary.
- The book contain secret information.
Contrary to attributive adjectives are predicate adjectivesOpens in new window, that can go in the position following copular verbs.
Kinds of Attributive Adjectives
Adjectives that appear before the head noun in a sentence include the following:
1. Attributive–Only Adjective
A number of adjectives including drunken, erstwhile, eventual, future, mere, principal, and utter, can only modify head nouns, that is, they appear only in the attributive position before head nouns.
- Gretchen saw one of her former friends. (she saw one of her friends who is former)
- She thought that he was an utter fool. (In terms of being a fool, he was utter)
Note that some types of attributive–only adjectives can be established on the basis of meaning. Sometimes the adjectives are attributive–only just in contexts where they are not expressing a property that is inherent to the person or thing indicated by the head noun.
The reason is that new expresses a property that is an inherent characteristic of the bag but not of the person.
NumeralsOpens in new window will always precede the nouns they modify. Any time some numeral functions as an adjective, it will be either of two forms: a cardinal adjective, or an ordinal adjective.
The difference between these two terms is that cardinal adjectives are words that are used when counting something, such as one, two, three, etc.
- We planted five seeds yesterday.
- Gretchen was so hungry that she finished three plates of noodles.
- Empress Publishers will publish ten books today.
Ordinal numeralsOpens in new window, on the other hand, indicate position, such as first, second, third, etc.
- That was the first interview I've had since graduation.
- That board meeting is the fourth that I've witnessed since my appointment here.
- This is the sixth new phone you have bought since you and I became friends.
Other numerals include those which do not indicate the exact number such as all, many, few, several and some.
Consider the following examples:
- All men are mortal.
- Before the event commenced Several guidelines were given.
The adjectives such as each, every, either and neither are used when the persons or things are taken one at a time. For example:
- Every student is expected to use the Ifioque.com website.
Note that if both numeral and possessive adjectives precede a noun, then the numeral adjective must come before the possessive one. For example:
Exceptions to the rules
There are a few exceptions as some adjectives tend to occur after the nouns they modify. Adjectives that fall under this group include:
1. Indefinite pronouns and adjectives
If there is an indefinite pronoun (something, nothing, anybody, nobody, etc) in the sentence, the adjective must follow it.
Consider the example below:
- He has nothing useful to say.
- This time around, we’ve brought something different.
2. More than one adjective
When more than one adjectives are used together for the same noun, it’s better to keep them after the noun.
Consider the example below:
- God is the maker of all things—visible and invisible, animate and inanimate.
- Likewise, if an adjective is used for a title, it comes after the noun, for example: “Alexander the Great.”