Adjective Issues for ESL Writers
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Adjective Issues for ESL Writers. Dr. Linda Bergmann, Professor of English, Purdue Brought to you in cooperation with the Purdue Online Writing Lab. Adjectives. Adjectives describe nouns or noun phrases. They are almost always placed in this order: Number Evaluation

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Adjective Issues for ESL Writers

Dr. Linda Bergmann, Professor of English, Purdue

Brought to you in cooperation with the Purdue Online Writing Lab


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Adjectives

  • Adjectives describe nouns or noun phrases.

  • They are almost always placed in this order:

  • Number

  • Evaluation

  • Physical Description (size, shape, age, color)

  • Classifying Adjectives


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Adjective Rules

Rule One: The adjectives are placed before the noun if sentence does not use a ‘to be’ verb to define the noun.

The sixteendurableoblongrods undergird

Number Evaluation ShapeSubject

the bridge section.

The twoexperienced and certified

Number Evaluation Class

engineers accompany the undergrads.

Subject


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Adjective Rules

Rule Two: The adjectives are placed after the noun if a ‘to be’ verb is used to define the noun.

The road waslong, flat, and two-lane.

Shape ShapeClass

The mixture istoxic and hazardous.

EvaluationClass

“To be” verbs are conjugations of “to be”: am, is, are, was, were


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Comma Rules for Adjectives

Commas always separate coordinate

adjectives. Coordinate adjectives have the same

status in the sentence, as in the following

examples:

He was a difficult, stubborn child.

The quick, efficient roadwork helped the

city a lot.

The crew used meticulous, precise

measurements to complete the work.


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Comma Rules for Adjectives

  • How will you know if the adjectives are coordinate?

  • Ask these two questions:

Does the sentence make sense if the adjectives are written in a different order?

Does the sentence make sense if and goes between the adjectives?

If the answer to these questions is yes, the adjectives are

coordinate and should be separated by a comma. Never put a

comma between the last adjective and the noun.


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Practice Examples

Order the words in parenthesis to create a sentence with appropriate adjective order. Ask the ‘coordinate adjective’ questions to determine if you need a comma between adjectives.

1) The saw cuts were (clean deep

straight).

2) The team of (Lebanese chemical

well-renowned) engineers visited

campus.


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Practice Answers

  • The saw cuts were clean, deep, and straight.

  • Evaluation Shape Shape

  • 2) The team of well-renowned, Lebanese

  • Evaluation Class

  • chemical engineers visited campus.

  • Class


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Practice Examples

Order the words in parenthesis to create a sentence with appropriate adjective order. Ask the ‘coordinate adjective’ questions to determine if you need a comma between adjectives.

3) The (pavement control group unhardened) mixture was used for the final experiment.

4) The (graduate industrious

intelligent) student worked hard in the class.


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Practice Answers

3) The unhardenedpavementcontrol group

physical descript. Class Class

mixture was used for the final

experiment.

4) The industrious, intelligentgraduate

Evaluation EvaluationClass

student worked hard in the class.


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The End

Adapted by Joshua Prenosil and Linda Bergmann from The Thomson Handbook by David Blakesley and Jeffrey L. Hoogeveen

Brought to you in cooperation with the Purdue Online Writing Lab


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For More Information

  • Contact the Purdue Writing Lab:

    • Drop In: Heavilon 226

    • Call: 765-494-3723

    • Email: [email protected]

    • On the web: http://owl.english.purdue.edu


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