Talk:Adjective

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Linguistics / Theoretical Linguistics  (Rated C-class, High-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Linguistics, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of linguistics on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
C-Class article C  This article has been rated as C-Class on the project's quality scale.
 High  This article has been rated as High-importance on the project's importance scale.
Taskforce icon
This article is supported by Theoretical Linguistics Task Force.
 

Absolute adjective[edit]

The article gives a definition of "absolute adjective" which I have not seen anywhere else, and it does not give a citation for it:

Absolute adjectives do not belong to a larger construction (aside from a larger adjective phrase), and typically modify either the subject of a sentence or whatever noun or pronoun they are closest to; for example, happy is an absolute adjective in "The boy, happy with his lollipop, did not look where he was going."

When you Google "absolute adjective", some sites say that it refers to an adjective which is not comparative (e.g.: a dead man but not a deader man); this seems questionable because such an adjective is generally called non-gradable, so why another name?.

Other sites say that an absolute adjective is one which functions as a noun (e.g.: the poor have it rough). 69.155.8.222 (talk) 20:46, 4 March 2013 (UTC)

Compound nouns[edit]

The[[ Columbiay Guide to SAE's view on this seems a bit idiosyncratic. I don't see any actual grammatical basis for their distinction, and it is possible to find references where all of their examples would be treated as compound nouns. Anyway, I think the term "compound noun" should at least be mentioned. Cadr 10:16, 11 June 2007 (UTC)

Re: "I don't see any actual grammatical basis for [the Columbia Guide's] distinction" between compound nouns and not: see http://www.bartleby.com/68/98/1398.html.
The thing int there manInsert non-formatted text here, the top hits on Google all define "compound noun" roughly the same way that I do and that the Columbia Guide seems to: if I may paraphrase, then something like "a single 'word' that's composed of multiple 'words', and that's a noun". They don't require that all components be nouns — something like hot dog would count — and do generally require that the result be lexicalized (though one was iffy on this point).
Now, I'm certainly not suggesting that we have to trust Google on this point — it's not my experience that this sort of pedagogical/applied-linguistics Web site is persnickety about using the scientifically correct linguistic terminology — but I hope you won't be offended when I say that the burden is on you to show that these sites and the Columbia Guide are using the term wrongly.
That said, I think it likely either that you're mistaken, or that the term is used ambivalently between the sense I mean and the sense you mean, because in my experience Language Log does generally get the terminology right (not necessarily perfectly — the posters there generally enjoy writing about things that aren't in their specific field of expertise — but still), and it's easy to find entries where it uses about the same definition as the Columbia Guide — see e.g. http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/003295.html, http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/003195.html.
(If we can come to a consensus on what exactly the term means, then we should definitely mention the things it refers to. If it does mean what the Columbia Guide and various Language Log entries pedagogical Web sites think, then it probably warrants its own section, if only so we can elaborate on the difference between an independent adjective and an adjective that's been subsumed into a compound. And for that matter, we need a section on compound adjectives.)
RuakhTALK 15:22, 11 June 2007 (UTC)
I never meant to suggest that all compound nouns are N+N sequences, I just said that all N+N sequences form a compound noun. (If I say that the congressmen met on Wednesday, forming a committee, I don't mean to say that all commities are formed of congressmen meeting on Wednesdays.) However, the Columbia guide says that some N+N sequences aren't compound nouns, and their decisions on this seem completely arbitrary (why is "bird house" a compound but not "school principal"?) I think the Columbia guide actually goes against your definition of a compound, since "school principal" is clearly, in your words, "a single 'word' that's composed of multiple 'words', and that's a noun". The Language Log doesn't say anything explicit about the relevant issues (since it doesn't talk much about N+N compounds). Cadr 11:34, 12 June 2007 (UTC)
Re: "I never meant to suggest that all compound nouns are N+N sequences": Oh, sorry. I thought you meant that as a definition. (After all, if you agree that compound nouns often consist of an adjective and a noun, then why would you have the article on adjectives only mention non-adjective-containing compound nouns?) Re: "I think the Columbia guide actually goes against your definition of a compound": Eh? I actually don't think "school principal" is a single "word" (though I could perhaps be convinced otherwise), and apparently the Columbia Guide doesn't either (and presumably it's too late to try to convince it).
In general, I don't understand your definition. You seem to be defining compound noun as "A single 'word' that's composed of multiple 'words', and that's a noun, or a single phrase that's composed of multiple nouns, and that's a noun"?
RuakhTALK 15:38, 12 June 2007 (UTC)
Now I think of it, the stress test does distinguish "school principle" and "bird house", so I guess they aren't both compounds. Oops! Cadr 16:42, 12 June 2007 (UTC)

Hebrew example[edit]

The Hebrew example in the beginning is somewhat controversial because צריך is not strictly an adjective but rather a verbial form (present participle). Hebrew verbs don't have a present tense, but instead form present participles. A participle possesses both the traits of an adjective (can be used to modify nouns) and a verb (can have objects and adjuncts). —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Alexey Feldgendler (talkcontribs) 07:52, 10 July 2007 (UTC).

Yeah, I couldn't decide if that's a good example. Traditionally, it's considered an adjective (and my dictionary gives it as one), and I'll note that הייתי צריך is much more freely available as a past tense than you'd expect if צריך were simply a participle. (Contrast הייתי הולך, which is only used as a conditional mood and to express actions that were repeated over the long term.) However, modern linguists do often consider it an irregular participle of צרך, citing as evidence the fact that the regularly-formed participle of צרך is not used, and the fact that צריך uses את with a definite complement and no preposition with an indefinite one. So, I decided to include it, because even if it's kind-of a verb, it's also kind-of a non-verb adjective, and I couldn't think of a better example in any of the languages I speak. (There are probably a bunch, but I find it really hard to think of such things.) If you can think of a better example of this (that is, an example where a language uses an adjective where English uses something else), then by all means, please replace the existing one. —RuakhTALK 17:07, 10 July 2007 (UTC)

Um,, What are adjetives? I need A few words.. :) — Preceding unsigned comment added by 173.27.105.118 (talk) 02:25, 24 January 2012 (UTC)

I remember...[edit]

In older versions of this article, e.g. at http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Adjective&oldid=118426280 (not sure if that's the most recent relevant version), there are some sections "Adjective order", "Comparison of adjectives" and "Adjectives of relation". Although these are rather over-long and waffly, are we happy that all information of interest actually got carried forward to the new (and generally much improved) article? I didn't write any of that stuff, #REDIRECT except I think I may have changed a few commas or something. So, I don't have any particular axe to grind, but just wondering... Matt 23:48, 22 July 2007 (UTC).

English adjective vs. adjective in general[edit]

The article is currently about both, and it's not good for either. Should we split this into two articles? Zocky | picture popups 11:00, 23 April 2008 (UTC)

That seems like a good idea. Helixer (talk) 01:31, 14 December 2008 (UTC)

Variety in examples[edit]

The examples in the box at the top are all attributive adjectives. A little more variety might be nice. —Jorend (talk) 01:47, 8 July 2008 (UTC)

Irregular uses (e.g. "woman" as adjective)[edit]

I agree with the above comment. There especially should be some explanation (if a coherent one exists) of weird accepted usages like, for example, "woman" as an adjective (instead of the correct "female") (e.g. "woman doctor", etc).
--Tyranny Sue (talk) 03:30, 26 February 2009 (UTC)

That seems to be an example of an attributive noun as described in the section "Other Noun Modifiers". You can say "A female doctor is female.", but you cannot say "A woman doctor is woman." 129.69.215.37 (talk) 07:04, 1 July 2014 (UTC)

Box of examples[edit]

You know, a few years ago, I edited the "Examples" box so that it contained three copies of one sentence—something like "All things green aren't red"—, with the first copy highlighting the attributive adjective (all), the second highlighting the postpositive adjective (green), and the third highlighting the predicative adjective (red). And now we have five sentences highlighting nine examples of one kind of adjective. Only nine? I think we need 438 examples of attributive adjectives. President Lethe (talk) 21:56, 17 September 2009 (UTC)

I don't like the new examples. For a start, "all" is not an adjective, it's a determiner. Then, the example sentence, "All things green aren't red", is bad English: ugly and inherently ambiguous. 86.150.102.78 (talk) 12:20, 14 November 2009 (UTC).

How do you adjectivize a persons name?[edit]

What is the rule when adjectivizing a persons name, such as when describing historic time periods ("the Victorian Era", "the Edwardian Era", "the Napoleonic Era"), what are the rules in working out the correct way to adjectivize it? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Fatcud (talkcontribs) 15:50, 4 October 2009 (UTC)

Post-positive adjectives[edit]

The article gives an example of an attributive adjective following the noun: "I saw three kids happy enough to jump up and down with glee."

Question 1: Is "happy" a post-positive adjective here? It does not seem to be quite of the same nature as the examples at post-positive adjective.

Question 2: In "The boy, happy with his lollipop, did not look where he was going", "happy" is said to be an "absolute" adjective, not an attributive adjective. Does this mean that it's also an absolute adjective in "I saw a boy happy with his lollipop", and wouldn't that contradict the first example where "happy" is, in an extremely similar context, said to be an attributive adjective? 86.150.102.78 (talk) 12:45, 14 November 2009 (UTC).

Inaccurate Spanish example[edit]

In the first section of the article the expression "tener hambre" is used as the equivalent in Spanish for "being hungry" with "hambre" not being an adjective. But the right translation for "being hungry" would be "estar hambriento", and the word "hambriento" IS an adjective in Spanish. So I suggest removing the spanish part of the example as it isn't a valid example of the issue being described. --201.235.61.121 (talk) 05:18, 8 April 2011 (UTC)


Order of Adjectives: Two of the same category[edit]

How do you order adjectives in the same category? Arrange this for example: Object of the Modifier Essay Adjectives Brief-Good-Factual. They fall under the opinion category. Bon 062 (talk) 10:39, 14 September 2011 (UTC)

Actually, I would argue that none of the examples you gave are in the same category. Though "good" is indeed an opinion adjective, brief is actually an adjective of size. Sure, what one considers brief is subject to one's opinion, but so is what one considers "big", so I think "adjective of opinion" refers to words like "good", "bad", and any variant thereof. "Factual" is a more interesting case. Though at first one might think that it would qualify as an "opinion adjective" (unless you're going by the informal definition I just supplied), I don't think "a factual brief essay" sounds quite right. I think I would order the example you gave thus: "Good, brief, factual essay". The list of types of adjectives on this page has been decreased since the last time I was here, so it's possible that "factual" falls into one of the missing categories. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 70.253.229.185 (talk) 02:35, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

Adjectives from verbs[edit]

Am I missing something, or does this article not address how adjectives are often formed (in English, anyway) from the past participles of verbs? (I think that's a correct description of what I'm talking about...) For example, "A has painted B" is using the past participle of to paint, but one may then say "B is painted" (as in, "a painted thing" — that's different from a past participle, right??), using the word as an adjective. Am I off-base on this? What is this process of getting adjectives from verbs called, and should the article mention it? (Note that many adjectives fall into this camp etymologically, even when they don't look exactly like their verb form — e.g., dead comes from to die (well, sort of), but everyone recognizes that dead is just a "plain" adjective.) - dcljr (talk) 01:00, 17 April 2012 (UTC)

Well, theoretically, a participle already is a kind of adjective, so it's kind of implied that all participles have an adjectival use when it makes sense. English participles derive historically from adjectives too (in Proto-Indo-European). 'dead' isn't actually from a verb, it has lived a life separate from the verb 'to die' since at least Germanic times, 2000 years ago. CodeCat (talk) 01:12, 18 September 2012 (UTC)

Some things to consider...[edit]

I believe this article could benefit from a few alterations. First of all, the lead section gives a very brief description of an adjective, but the terminology used lacks some clarity and assumes that the reader has some prior linguistic knowledge (above the average person's common knowledge of what an 'adjective' is). In addition, it does not summarize the article's key points or give a general overview of what the article entails. Using less technical language and outlining the main points of the article in the lead section would be helpful. Secondly, this article contains a few questionable facts. For instance, it is stated that determiners are neither nouns nor pronouns, but this contradicts my knowledge of determiner phrases. As I understand, definite pronouns and the possessive 's have the same distribution as determiners (i.e. can occur in the same spot, syntactically) and therefore can be considered determiners. Perhaps some more in-text citations would be helpful as they would provide a sound basis for the claims. --KristenMcB (talk) 04:15, 19 September 2014 (UTC)

Different grammarians use different terminology, but I'm not sure what you mean by "definite pronouns and the possessive 's . . . can be considered determiners.".
As I understand the terminology as used in this article
  • the word "determiner" is being used to designate a lexical category (part of speech), sometimes called a "determinative"
  • determiners, in this sense, include words like "the" and "my" (but not "mine", which might be called a "possessive pronoun"),
  • what others call the genitive form of a personal pronoun (e.g. "my") is called a "possessive determiner" (previously "possessive adjective")
  • this use of "determiner" should be distinguished from the "determiner function", which includes genitive noun phrases
I am not quite sure if this is what you mean.
I agree that it should be made a lot clearer (possibly with more examples).
I think the distinction between an adjective and a determiner is important, but it might be better to refer to a different article for the terminological details.
The problem of terminology has come up elsewhere in connection with possessive determiners/adjectives ; I am working on a description of the terminological differences but am not yet happy with what I have. I won't have anything presentable for at least two weeks.
I think an encyclopaedia needs to explain the differences between adjectives and determiners (in the sense of determinatives) but it is a problem when using traditional terminology. I suppose explaining the difference to a layman might involve the following
  • an article ("a" or "the") can combine with an adjective ("a blue bird") but not with another determinative/determiner (* "a my book", * "a this book")
The section on other noun modifiers could also, perhaps, be improved to better explain the differences beween an attributive noun and an adjective (e.g.: an attributive noun cannot be modified by an adverb, etc.)
--Boson (talk) 16:45, 19 September 2014 (UTC)

Comparison rule[edit]

Would it be appropriate to discuss the tendency for native speakers to apply the suffixes to monosylabic or simple adjectives? Thus, it is considered generally improper to say "The blood is more red", instead favouring "the blood is redder", just as it is considered improper to say "the blood is crimsoner", rather "The blood is more crimson"? I ask because I am not sure if there is a hard and fast rule for this. I have definitely noticed that adjectives of one or two sylables almost always receive the suffixes; 'harder", "nicer", "simpler", while adjectives of three or more sylables rarely receive suffixes; "more difficult", "more agreeable", "more simplistic". Axciom (talk) 08:55, 2 August 2016 (UTC)

This is described at Comparative#-er vs. more and is touched on a bit in the "Comparison of adjectives" section of the adjective page. Graham87 12:37, 25 August 2016 (UTC)

"English grammar" template?[edit]

Adjectives exist in (almost?) all languages. I don't think that this template is appropriate, I think it should be either switched out for a more language/location neutral template, or removed from the article entirely. Psiĥedelisto (talk) 08:24, 27 January 2017 (UTC)

Order of adjectives section[edit]

I've rewritten the order to match the OSASCOMP rule which I have cited. However, the British Council guide [1] gives the order as size, shape, age rather than size, age, shape. To me, big old round drum sounds more natural than big round old drum but if this SSA order is found in other sources then we should include it as an alternative. It may be (and this is totally OR at the moment) it depends on how closely associated the size and shape adjectives are: big blunt old knife sounds as good as big old blunt knife, if not better. Help, someone... Btljs (talk) 10:20, 1 February 2017 (UTC)

Also, shouldn't textures and similar qualities come in between size and shape somewhere? e.g. a big rusty old kettle, a small soggy square handkefchief, a shiny new round penny. Btljs (talk) 10:27, 1 February 2017 (UTC)