Adjectives 1: adjectives and noun modifiers in english – article author: kerry g maxwell and lindsay clandfield

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  • Publicado : 2 de agosto de 2010
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Type: reference material
Article on ways to approach teaching adjectives.
Introduction
The book critic R. Z Sheppard once remarked that adjectives “are the potbelly of poetry”. Many English language teachers would not take such a disparaging view. Adjectives are often quite fun to teach and the rules surrounding them are, usually, quite straightforward. This month’s article is the first oftwo in which we throw the spotlight on adjectives. We start by looking at adjectives in relation to the wider phrasal structures they occur in, examining issues of position, complementation, and ordering.
When we want to give more information than can be provided by using a noun alone, we can add an adjective to identify a person or thing, or describe them in more detail, e.g.:
her new dress
akind person
the phonetic alphabet
accuracy is important
Note that sometimes nouns can be placed before other nouns as a way of identifying a particular type of person or thing, e.g.:
a chocolate cake
the football player
Nouns used in this way are usually referred to as noun modifiers. Though they are functioning in a similar way to some adjectives, we classify them as nouns. Examples like thisare often referred to as compound nouns, with the first noun identifying a particular type in relation to the group of people or things described by the second noun.In the following article, we will focus on true adjectives, rather than noun modifiers.
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Anchor Point:11. Position of adjectives

Most adjectives can appear before a noun aspart of a noun phrase, placed after determiners or numbers if there are any, and immediately before the noun, e.g.:
She had a beautiful smile
He bought two brown bread rolls.
Adjectives placed before a noun in this way are generally referred to as occurring in the attributive position.
Most adjectives can also occur as complements of the verb be and other link verbs such as become, feel orseem, e.g.:
Her smile is beautiful
She didn’t seem happy
Adjectives placed after the verb in this way are generally referred to as occurring in the predicative position.
When the information contained in an adjective is not the main focus of a statement, then the adjective is usually placed before the noun in the attributive position.
However, when the main focus of a statement is to give theinformation contained in an adjective, the adjective is usually placed after the verb in the predicative position, compare:
He handed me a bucket of hot water. (attributive position)
I put my hand in the bucket, the water was very hot. (predicative position, emphasising hot.)
Though most adjectives can be used in both the attributive and predicative positions, there are a number of adjectivesthat can occur in one particular position only, as described below:
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Anchor Point:22. Position: attributive only
There are some adjectives which can only be used before a noun, in the attributive position. For instance, we talk about the main problem but cannot say, the problem was main.
Adjectives which occur only in the attributive positionare generally those which identify something as being of a particular type. For instance, we can talk about a financial decision where financial distinguishes this from other types of decision, e.g.: medical, political. This group of adjectives are often referred to as classifying adjectives, and rarely occur in the predicative position unless we specifically want to emphasise a contrast, e.g.:a chemical reaction not, e.g.: a reaction which was/is chemical
the phonetic alphabet not, e.g.: the alphabet is phonetic
It was an indoor pool. not, e.g.: The pool was indoor
Other adjectives which generally appear in the attributive position are those which are used for emphasis, e.g.:
The show was absolute/utter rubbish.
You made me look a complete fool.
The project was a total...
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