Grammar: Definitive adjectives

in-nuce.com definitive adjectives

Adjectives may be divided into two general classes: descriptive and definitive.

Definitive Adjectives

From A New English Grammar for Schools, by Thomas Harvey:

1. A definitive adjective  limits or defines a noun without denoting any of its qualities.

The Snake River, that man, three dollars, the third seal, a twofold reference 

2. Definitive adjectives are divided into three classes:

a. Articles
An article is a pointing out word. There are three articles in the English language: an, an, the.
The Snake River flows through Idaho.
 What is “the”? [“The” is an adjective.]
Why? [“The” is a word that limits or defines the proper noun “Snake River”.]
What kind? [“The” is a definitive adjective, an article.]
Why? [“The” limits rather than describes “Snake River”.]
b. Pronominal adjectives
A pronominal adjective would be a pronoun if it stood by itself. Attached to a noun without an article, however, it limits the noun by denoting “which”.
This is a good book.  
What is “this”? [“This” is an adjective.]
Why? [“This” is a word that limits or defines a noun.]
What kind? [“This” is a definitive pronominal adjective.]
Why? [“This” points out which book but does not denote any of the book’s qualities.]
c. Numeral adjectives
A numeral adjective is a number word.
Two books are mine.
What is “two”? [“Two” is an adjective.]
Why? [“Two” is a word that sets a numerical limit for the plural noun “books”.]
What kind? [“Two” is a limiting numeral adjective.]
Why? [It points out how many books but does not denote any of the books’
qualities.]
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