3.1. Semantics

Adjectives relate to nouns. They denote various features of noun referents:
- quality – e.g. a beautiful picture
- material – e.g. a wooden chair
- colour – e.g. a red rose
- dimensions – e.g. a long story
- state – e.g. He was asleep
- position – e.g. the houseboat was located in downtown St. Paul
- quantity or number – e.g. many books

Adjectives are semantically bound – they denote information only in collocations with nouns: e.g. a beautiful girl (= a girl who is beautiful)
When the head noun in a phrase is missing, adjectives are accompanied by the prop word one: e.g. Give me a pen, the red one, please!

Adjectives can be subdivided into semantic subclasses in the basis of several semantic oppositions:

1. qualitative – relative
- Qualitative adjectives - denote qualities of the noun referent that can be estimated quantitatively. The estimation is formalized by means of adverbial modifiers:
e.g. She is very young.; This book is rather difficult.; He is old enough to get married.
- Relative adjectives – denote properties determined by the relation of two material entities:
e.g. a wooden pen-case.; silver earring.; coloured postcards

2. Dynamic – stative
- Dynamic adjectives – can be used in imperative sentences and after the verb to be in the progressive: e.g. Be careful!; She is being careful today.
- Stative adjectives - cannot be used in such syntactic contexts. They can only be used in noun phrases: e.g. a thin man.

3. Gradable – non gradable
- Gradable adjectives – can be intensified by means of adverbs: e.g. She is very tall
Gradable adjectives can express comparison: tall – taller – tallest
e.g. This was the most grammatical of the suggested topics.
- Non-gradable adjectives – cannot be intensified or compared: e.g. nuclear weapons; a silver spoon; a hollow tree.

4. Inherent – non-inherent
- Inherent feature adjectives – can be paraphrased in the following way: e.g. a new dress (= It is a dress and it is new.)
- Non-inherent feature adjectives – can be paraphrased as follows: e.g. He is a good friend. (= He is good as a friend)

3.2. Form

3.2.1. Word building – according to their morphological structure adjective stems can be classified into:

1. Simple – they contain only root morphemes: good, bad

2. Derived – they consist of the root morpheme and same affix:
- prefixes: pre -, anti -, un -, in -, im -, il -, ir –
e.g. pre-war, unhappy, insignificant, immoral, illegal, irrational
- suffixes: - y, - ic, - en, - ous, - ive, - able, - ible, - most, - like, - less, - al, - ly, - ish, - ile, - ian, - ary, - ory, - ate, - esque, - some, - ed, - worthy
e.g. happy, organic, golden, various, passive, comfortable, convertible, topmost, fishlike, childless, national, manly, childish, infantile, colonial, military, exclamatory, passionate, statuesque, troublesome, horned, trustworthy

3. Compound – such stems are built of two or more roots and some affix: e.g. heart-rending, fair-haired, ice-cold, up-to-date

4. Participials – these are adjectivized participles. They possess certain features that distinguish them from participles proper:
- their meaning is different from the meaning of the participle: e.g. a forbidding coast (= a coast that looks dangerous)
- there is no participle proper: e.g. an interesting film
- they govern different prepositions: e.g. surprised at, worried about
- the noun modified by the participial is not the morphological subject of the verb root: e.g. an astonished glance

3.2.2. Grammatical paradigm – gradable adjectives can express the grammatical category of comparison through a system of grammatical forms. Comparison gives a relative evaluation of the degree of the quality attributed to the referent of the modified noun. This category is based on the functional opposition of three sets of forms: positive, comparative and superlative.

Positive degree forms  - have no feature of comparison (e.g. She is a beautiful girl.).

Comparitive degree forms - have the feature of restricted superiority with reference to two entities (e.g. She is more beautiful than her sister is.)

1. Some adjectives have synthetical forms of comparison, others have analytical forms. The synthetical forms are built up by means of the grammatical endings – er and – est: e.g. small – smaller – smallest

2. One syllable adjectives and two-syllable adjectives ending in – le, - y, - ow, - er employ grammatical endings:
e.g. gentle – gentler – gentlest
happy – happier - happiest
clever – cleverer - cleverest
A few more frequently used adjectives of two syllables have synthetical forms of comparison – polite, complete, common, pleasant, quiet.

3. The rest of two-syllable adjectives and adjectives of more than two syllables have analytical forms of comparison – they employ the auxiliary adverbs more and most: e.g. amazing – more amazing – most amazing

4. Some adjectives have irregular forms of comparison: e.g. good – better – best

5. Comparison can be repeated to suggest continuing change: e.g. She was growing more and more dissatisfied

6. There are other specific forms of comparison, which employ the auxiliary words less and least. They may be called forms of reverse comparison: e.g. She is less beautiful than her sister.; She is least beautiful of the three sisters.

7. Various syntactic structures can be used to express meanings within the semantic field of comparison:
- equality – e.g. She is as clever as her brother.
- inequality – e.g. She is not as clever as her brother.; She is not so clever as her brother.
- miscellaneous – e.g. This skirt is twice as long as that one.; He is more good than bad

8. Comparatives can be used in parallel structures with the definite articlee.g. The more experience he gets, the more efficient his work becomes.

Superlative degree forms – have the feature of unrestricted superiority with reference of a group (e.g. She is the most beautiful girl in the class.)
The superlative degree form can express elative meaning (a very high degree of the respective quality): e.g. It was the most important problem to discuss.

3.2.3. Adjectives can be substantivized – if the adjective is placed in a nominatively self-dependent position, this leads to its substantivization (can be complete or partial).

Completely substantivized adjectives – have all the grammatical features of nouns:
e.g. The car is convertible. – He is driving a convertible.

Partially substantivized adjectives - fall into two types: personal plural and abstract singular. Partial substantivization is marked by the definite article. Substantivized adjectives denoting personal qualities refer to all the people characterized by the respective quality. They combine with plural verb forms:
e.g. the blind – незрящите; the disabled – инвалидите

Substantivizes adjectives denoting evaluation refer to abstract notions. They combine with singular verb forms: e.g. the good; the evil; the beautiful; the ugly.

Partially substantivized adjectives function as head of noun phrases: e.g. the blind are more inactive than the sighted.; The beautiful is an aesthetic category.

3.3. Structure of the adjective phrase

Adjectives function in phrases. An adjective phrase is a phrase with an adjective as head. Positive degree forms can be modified by: very, so, so very, quite, fairly, rather, extremely:
e.g. She is very beautiful.; I am so tired.; This book is fairly easy for you to read.

Comparative degree forms can be intensified by much, so much, far, a lot, a little:
e.g. This task is much easier than the first one.

Adjectives can be followed by:
1. complements: e.g. Glad to meet you
2. comparative clauses: e.g. as happy as can be.; happier than me.; happier than I am.; the happiest of all

3.4. Syntactic functions of adjectives

3.4.1. Noun modifier – there are two types of noun modifier – attributive and postpositive.

Attributive modifiers – are usually single adjectives premodifying nouns: e.g. fresh bread, fresh news
Attributives denote permanent features of the noun referent: e.g. a beautiful girl, a tall girl

Pospositive modifiers – these adjectives reffering to temporary states. They often have complementation and follow the modified noun: The girl, tall on her high-heels

Some adjectives are commonly used as postpositives: absent, present, involved, concerned, etc

3.4.2. Predicative – adjectives in predicative function usually denote temporary states or qualities: e.g. I was lost and afraid and certain of danger.

Some adjectives can be used only predicatively (after link verbs): e.g. He had been asleep for half an hour.

Expressions of measurement function predicatively: e.g. She is twenty years old.

3.4.3. Subject complement – adjectives in this function denote temporary qualities related to verbal situations, which are denoted by intransitive verbs: e.g. She lay awake in her bed. (= She lay in her bed, she was awake.)

3.4.4. Object complement – adjectives in this function often denote features of the object resulting from the verbal situation: e.g. She tore the envelope open.

3.4.5. Verbless adjective clause – an adjective phrase may function as a verbless clause denoting attendant circumstances (e.g. Tired but happy, she went out for lunch.) or circumstances in cause and consequence relation to the situation denoted by the main verb (e.g. Disappointed, she left the meeting.)

3.4.6. Heads of noun phrases – partially substantivized adjectives function as heads of noun phrases. They have generic reference: e.g. Only the brave deserve the fair.

3.4.7. Exclamatory sentences – adjectives preceded by “how” take initial position in exclamatory sentences. e.g. How beautiful the flower is!

3.5. Order of adjectives

Some adjectives denote inherent features of noun referents; other express the opinion of the speaker. If a noun is modified by a number of attributes, their order in the noun phrase structure is as follows:

Head noun









An attributive group does not normally include all of these semantic types of adjectives. The order of adjectives of the same type depends on suprasegmental units such as stress and intonation.

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