An adjective modifies a noun or a pronoun by describing, identifying, or
quantifying words. An adjective usually precedes the noun or the pronoun which it modifies.
In the following examples, the boldwords are adjectives:
Mrs. Morrison papered her kitchen walls with hideous wall paper.
The small boat foundered on the wine dark sea.
The coal mines are dark and dank.
Many stores have already begun to play irritating Christmas music.
A battered music box sat on the mahogany sideboard.
Some nouns, many pronouns, and many participle phrases can also act as adjectives. In the sentence
Eleanor listened to the muffled sounds of the radio hidden under her pillow.
for example, both highlighted adjectives are past participles.
Grammarians also consider articles (“the,” “a,” “an”) to be adjectives.
A possessive adjective (“my,” “your,” “his,” “her,” “its,” “our,” “their”) is similar or identical to a possessive pronoun; however, it is used as an adjective and modifies a noun or a noun phrase, as in the following sentences:
I can’t complete my assignment because I don’t have the textbook.
In this sentence, the possessive adjective “my” modifies “assignment” and the noun phrase “my assignment” functions as an object. Note that the possessive pronoun form “mine” is not used to modify a noun or noun phrase.
What is your phone number.
Here the possessive adjective “your” is used to modify the noun phrase “phone number”; the entire noun phrase “your phone number” is a subject complement. Note that the possessive pronoun form “yours” is not used to modify a noun or a noun phrase.
The bakery sold his favourite type of bread.
In this example, the possessive adjective “his” modifies the noun phrase “favourite type of bread” and the entire noun phrase “his favourite type of bread” is the direct object of the verb “sold.”
After many years, she returned to her homeland.
Here the possessive adjective “her” modifies the noun “homeland” and the noun phrase “her homeland” is the object of the preposition “to.” Note also that the form “hers” is not used to modify nouns or noun phrases.
The demonstrative adjectives “this,” “these,” “that,” “those,” and “what” are identical to the demonstrative pronouns, but are used as adjectives to modify nouns or noun phrases, as in the following sentences:
When the librarian tripped over that cord, she dropped a pile of books.
In this sentence, the demonstrative adjective “that” modifies the noun “cord” and the noun phrase “that cord” is the object of the preposition “over.”
This apartment needs to be fumigated.
Here “this” modifies “apartment” and the noun phrase “this apartment” is the subject of the sentence.
Even though my friend preferred those plates, I bought these.
In the subordinate clause, “those” modifies “plates” and the noun phrase “those plates” is the object of the verb “preferred.” In the independent clause, “these” is the direct object of the verb “bought.”
Note that the relationship between a demonstrative adjective and a demonstrative pronoun is similar to the relationship between a possessive adjective and a possessive pronoun, or to that between a interrogative adjective and an interrogative pronoun.
An interrogative adjective (“which” or “what”) is like an interrogative pronoun, except that it modifies a noun or noun phrase rather than standing on its own (see also demonstrative adjectives and possessive adjectives):
Which plants should be watered twice a week?
Like other adjectives, “which” can be used to modify a noun or a noun phrase. In this example, “which” modifies “plants” and the noun phrase “which plants” is the subject of the compound verb “should be watered”:
What book are you reading?
In this sentence, “what” modifies “book” and the noun phrase “what book” is the direct object of the compound verb “are reading.”
An indefinite adjective is similar to an indefinite pronoun, except that it modifies a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase, as in the following sentences:
Many people believe that corporations are under-taxed.
The indefinite adjective “many” modifies the noun “people” and the noun phrase “many people” is the subject of the sentence.
I will send you any mail that arrives after you have moved to Sudbury.
The indefinite adjective “any” modifies the noun “mail” and the noun phrase “any mail” is the direct object of the compound verb “will send.”
They found a few goldfish floating belly up in the swan pound.
In this example the indefinite adjective modifies the noun “goldfish” and the noun phrase is the direct object of the verb “found”: