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Examples of Adjectives Study Guide

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Updated on Sep 20, 2011

Examples of Adjectives

This study guide brings you new and useful adjectives to strengthen your word power and make your communications more effective.

Adjectives are words that describe, modify, specify, or qualify a noun. Alas, the poor adjectives. They are so often undervalued, and thought of as little helpers to big, important nouns. But nothing could be further from the truth. Adjectives just may be the most powerful, useful parts of speech in the whole language!

Adjectives are the spice of language, the salsa on chips, the whipped cream on top, the special detail that tells listeners or readers what you really feel or mean. Here are some things adjectives do for communication:

  • add color, definition, and detail
  • clarify statements and explain new ideas
  • paint visual images in the mind
  • convey the emotions of the writer or speaker
  • create emotions in the reader or listener
  • help people win or lose arguments

Without adjectives, your language would be limp and lifeless, and it probably wouldn't give much useful information either. Consider the following sentences:

Noah, my brother, brought home a dog.

Noah, my youngest brother, brought home a dog.

Noah, my youngest and silliest brother, brought home a darling little spotted puppy dog.

The first sentence provides facts, and that's it. You have no idea what kind of dog, or how the writer feels about the introduction of a dog to the home. The second sentence provides only a small additional piece of evidence—the writer's birth order in the family. The third sentence, however, gives you a lot of information. You learn the writer's opinion about his brother as well as his tendency to love dogs: the dog is no longer just a dog, but is now a darling little puppy.

Having an extensive vocabulary gives you the word power to apply the precise adjective(s) to convey the exact connotation you seek. Look at the following examples and note how the addition of more specific adjectives provides more interesting and exact meaning to simple phrases:

  • a good movie
  • a fun movie
  • an action-packed adventure movie
  • a hard vocabulary test
  • a difficult vocabulary test
  • a grueling vocabulary test
  • a hard teacher
  • a tough teacher
  • a demanding teacher

In each group, the third sample provides the most information. The word grueling means difficult or exhausting. Use of the word is an obvious improvement over the acceptable, but not very interesting, adjective difficult to describe the test. Similarly, using the word demanding says a lot more about the teacher than simply calling him or her tough or hard.

Some Useful Adjectives For You to Learn

This lesson includes 12 very expressive and useful adjectives, along with short definitions and sample sentences to illustrate their meanings.

Read this list slowly and carefully to be sure you understand the words. If you can, think of a mnemonic to help you remember each meaning. Try to quickly come up with a sentence that includes that word.

  1. adjacent. Next to. Our school is adjacent to a skate park where we spend afternoons.
  2. concurrent. Happening at the same time. My two favorite television shows are concurrent, so I have to TiVo one or the other every week.
  3. eclectic. Selected from a variety of sources. Our team consists of an eclectic mix of talented and totally untalented players.
  4. empirical. Based on experience or observation rather than on ideas or beliefs. Weathermen use the empirical evidence found in historical records to predict future storms.
  5. finite. Being limited; having an end or boundaries. Environmentalists believe Earth's resources are finite and must be preserved.
  6. implicit. Suggested, implied, or understood; not directly stated. The teacher's implicit instructions were that neatness counted as much as timeliness, but she didn't say that exactly.
  7. inherent. A natural part of something that cannot be separated from it. Competitiveness is probably inherent in athletes. 
  8. intrinsic. A basic part of the nature of something or someone. Bees are intrinsically attracted to sweet-smelling flowers, and humans seem to be intrinsically attracted to sweet-tasting foods.
  9. predominant. The most common or important; most dominant. Saving energy has become a predominant issue in countries all over the world, not just in America.
  10. preliminary. Happening before something that is more important. The preliminary trials for the Olympics are held throughout the world in order to select each country's finest athletes.
  11. prudent. Using careful and sensible judgment. Prudent students start their homework early, and finish early, in order to leave time for other more entertaining activities.
  12. reluctant. Hesitant or uncertain. Hikers should not be reluctant to admit their fears about steep paths and rocky ledges.

Tip

Sometimes you can remember a word better if you focus on its synonym, or even its antonym. Think about synonyms and antonyms whenever you're learning a new word.

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Examples of Adjectives Practice Exercises

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