Adjectives may be divided into two general classes: descriptive and definitive.
From A New English Grammar for Schools, by Thomas Harvey:Previous Harvey's A New English Grammar Next
1. A descriptive adjective limits or describes a noun by denoting some quality belonging to it.
A round table, a square table, a sour apple, a sweet apple, a good boy, a bad boy, an Italian sunset, twinkling stars, thick-warbled songs
2. Words commonly used as other parts of speech sometimes perform the office of descriptive adjectives, and should be parsed as such.
A gold ring, a silver cord, the California pine, a make-believe patriot, double-distilled nonsense. “The West is as truly American, as genuinely mom and apple pie, as any other part of our country.”
3. An adjective is frequency limited by a word joined to it by a hyphen.
A high-sounding title, an ill-matched pair.The compound term thus formed is called a compound adjective and should be parsed as a single word.
4. Adjectives derived from verbs are called participial adjectives.
They are usually placed before the nouns which they modify.
“We walked across a plowed field, and soon came to the flowing spring.”
5. When a descriptive adjective represents a noun understood or not expressed, it must be preceded by an article.
“The wise are provident”
“The good are happy.”
Adjectives thus used should be parsed as adjectives used as nouns.
Tell which of the adjectives in the following sentences are descriptive, and which are compound and participial:
1. The unfortunate man was a hard-working mechanic.2. The fields looked beautiful.3. English books are costly.4. The howling storm is past.5. The soil is very productive.6. The water falls into a marble basin.7. I prefer a New England winter to an Australian summer.
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