Wednesday, August 22

Adjective Advanced

image courtesy of stock.xchng 

We all know Adjectives. They are very familiar words that help us describe people, things, places and situations around us. For example, “honest,” “expensive,” “far,” “narrow,” “active” etc.

But sometimes, using Adjectives can be more complicated than we expect. Because there are actually several kinds of Adjectives.

Participles as Adjectives

Most of the Adjectives used as examples in today’s post are Participles.

For example, "increasing," "leading," "hired," "expected," etc.

This is because the Present Participle (V+ing) or Past Participle (P.P.) form is sometimes also called a "Verbal Adjective." 

What does this mean? 

This means that it’s both a Verb and an Adjective.

Present Participles


Increasing, Leading

*Present Participles used as Adjectives mean that the actions are done by the people or things being described. In short, they have an active meaning.

For example, 

Increasing demand = the demand increases or is increasing

Leading role = the role leads or is leading

Past Participles


Hired, Expected

*Past Participles used as Adjectives mean the actions are done on the people or things being described. In short, they have a passive meaning. 

For example, 

Candidate hired = the candidate is or was hired  

Staff members expected = the staff members are or were expected

As you might know, Adjectives like these are often used in English tests such as the TOEIC.

Position of Adjectives

Another reason why there are more than one type of Adjective is connected to their position inside a sentence.

Here are two more kinds of Adjectives:

1.       Attributive Adjective

2.       Predicative Adjective

These two kinds of Adjectives pose a problem to learners of English simply because some Adjectives are normally used in the attributive position only; while other Adjectives are used in the predicative position only; and still others can be used both ways.

This is all very confusing to students because we have to remember which particular Adjective is normally used in what way.

What’s the Difference?

Well, the first thing you have to do is to change your impression of Attributive Adjectives. You might have heard the simple explanation before that Attributive Adjectives come before the Noun while Predicative Adjectives come after the Noun.

This is true. But not completely.

First, take a look at our examples:

As a result of increasing demand, we are in a position to raise prices.

She could have been a leading actress.

As you can see, both Adjectivesincreasing” and “leading” are placed before the Nouns that they describe: “demand” and “actress” respectively. This is why they are called Attributive Adjectives.

Now, let’s take a look at our next examples:

The candidate hired last week turned down the position.

The staff members expected to attend didn’t turn up.

Attributive Adjectives do in fact appear before Nouns, but not only that: They also appear after them. As long as they are next to the Noun, they are still Attributive Adjectives!

Note: This kind of Attributive Adjectives are also sometimes called Post-positive 

The other kind of Adjective is called “Predicative” simply because it exists inside the predicate of the sentence. It is easy to find if you only keep in mind that the Predicative Adjective will come after the VerbBe” and other similar linking verbs such as: "feel," "seem," "appear" etc.


The task is challenging.

The task seems challenging.

*Note: The Predicative Adjective is also sometimes called the Subject Complement

Participial Clauses

Lastly, there is a longer kind of Adjective called a “Participial Clause” or an “+ed / +ing Clause.”


The man injured in the accident was taken to hospital.

The path leading to the mountain is dangerous.

Having failed the job interview, I returned to university.

Feeling confident, Susan asked for a raise.

Marketed cleverly, the game will be very popular.

They are longer than one-word Adjectives but they are shorter than Relative Clauses. You know, those clauses that start with "who," "that," "which" etc.


Here’s a short exercise that practices Adjectives and Participial Clauses. This exercise follows the format of the TOEIC test. Go ahead and try it! 

1.       Because flu is a ____ public concern, pharmaceutical companies have been marketing a variety of medications.

A.      grow

B.      grew

C.      growth

D.      growing

2.       Photo-Ops is a bimonthly publication ____ by an organization of amateur photographers devoted to their avocation.

A.      distributes

B.      are distributed

C.      distributed

D.      will distribute

3.       The resort keeps its patrons ____ by offering numerous services that ensure their comfort and well-being.

A.      satisfy

B.      satisfies

C.      satisfied

D.      satisfaction

To check your answers, please click the link below:

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