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Qualifying adjectives

What are qualifying or quantitative adjectives? The list is very long but to name a few: happy, nice, scary, friendly, beautiful, sad, mean etc.

Qualitative or qualifying adjectives are the most common type of adjective. We use them to describe or ascribe the quality of living and non-living beings and objects. Qualifying adjectives are non-countable but are gradable, which means they can be graded with comparatives and superlatives etc.

Note that, the nouns being qualified are highlighted in red: 

  • The man looks hungry. 
  • It’s quite a rough town.
  • What a beautiful day.
  • The man looks scary. 
  • All of my classmates are nice. 

Following are examples of qualifying adjectives being graded either in a comparative or superlative form

Note that all qualifying adjectives are gradable either by adding suffixes on to the end or using words such as; ‘more’ and ‘as…adjective…as’ for comparatives and ‘most’ for superlatives. Positives, comparatives, and superlatives:

  • I have a good job. Peter has a better job and Maria has the best job.
  • I’m quite a nice guy but my sister is nicer and my dad is the nicest. 
  • Shane is the least interesting of the group. His friend is interesting. Peter’s dad is more interesting and his wife is the most interesting. 
  • She is as scared as we are right now.

Comparatives with the construction; ‘as…adjective…as’:

  • She is just as beautiful as her friend.
  • They weren’t as surprised as me when we arrived.
  • She’s as disturbed as me right now.

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Spelling rules for making adjectives into comparatives and superlatives

Plus, when to use ‘more’ and ‘most’. Comparatives; one-syllable adjectives; fast, strong or smart: add ‘er’

  • I’m faster than you.
  • She’s stronger than him.
  • He’s smarter than me.

One syllable adjectives with a ‘consonant-vowel-consonant’; big, wet or sad: double the last consonant and add ‘er’

  • She is bigger than us.
  • Yesterday was wetter than today.
  • I’m sadder than you today.

Two syllable adjectives ending in ‘y’; funny, busy or friendly: change the ‘y’ to an ‘i’ and add ‘er’

  • He is a funnier comedian than the other one.
  • My colleagues are always busier than my former ones.
  • Anne is friendlier than we thought.

With regard to adverbs or adjectives with two or more syllables, such as, exciting, fantastic or helpful: just addmore

  • This class is far more exciting than the last class.
  • I’m happy because the climate is more fantastic in the summer.
  • The flight attendant was more helpful than I had imagined.

Exempt from the rules in making comparatives are the irregular adjectives of which you just need to remember the comparative and superlative forms

Adjectives such as good, far or little for example. Below are the positive, comparative and superlatives forms: 

  • Sam is a good boy. Sally is better and Henry is the best. 
  • I’m from a far away country. George’s country is further/farther than mine and Sam’s country is the furthest/farthest. 
  • I would like just a little bit of bread, please. George had less bread and Harry has the least amount of bread.

Notice how the superlatives forms, ‘least’, ‘best’ and ‘furthest’ are being introduced by the article ‘the’. This is always the case with superlatives.

Essential English Grammar – A Friendly Approach

Lesson #27: Qualifying adjectives

Explanation

Qualifying adjectives are the most common type of adjectives in English. Qualifying adjectives are used to describe living beings or things. Qualifying adjectives are non-countable, but are gradable, which means they can be graded with comparatives (more than, as…adjective…as) or superlatives (the most) etc. Qualifying adjectives form the largest list of adjectives.

Context

  • What a beautiful1 day! Normally, England has such bad2 weather during wintertime, but today has been an exceptional day. Wouldn’t you agree, David?
  • Yes, but on Sunday, last week, the weather was better3 than today, although it wasn’t as sunny as4 today, I have to admit.
  • Yes, I agree. You should have seen it in January. It was wetter5 than anything I have ever seen.
  • What’s the worst6 weather you’ve seen in the U.K?
  • Well, it really depends on where you are in the U.K. because there are sunnier and nicer7 For example, southern8 England tends to have the best weather if you don’t mind me saying.
  • That’s interesting. I would also say though, that the weather in northern England is as bad as9 the weather in other countries in northern Europe, such as Denmark or Norway. It really is cold in those10
  • I much prefer the hotter11 temperatures in southern Europe. Countries like Spain, Portugal or Italy12 are just so much sunnier and friendlier13

Analysis

  1. Beautiful: is the qualifying adjective, and the noun it is modifying is day. All adjectives modify or describe nouns.
  2. Bad: is the qualifying adjective. Its comparative form is worse (irregular comparative in the negative or better, which is the positive and irregular form), and its superlative form is the best (irregular superlative form) (superlatives usually take the article the).
  3. Better:  is the irregular and positive comparative form of good.
  4. As sunny as:  a construction widely used with qualifying adjectives to equalise two things or people in English is: as + adjective + as.
  5. Wetter:  qualifying adjective and comparative form of wet.
  6. The worst:  is the irregular and superlative for the qualifying adjective good. Not that the comparatives and superlative forms of qualifying adjectives are also adjectives.
  7. Nicer: comparative form of the qualifying adjective nice.
  8. Southern: is a qualifying adjective that is modifying the noun, England.
  9. As bad as:  the comparative or equaliser construction to equalise two things or people. In this case, it’s referring to the weather in England and northern Europe.
  10.  Those countries: remember the demonstrative adjectives from the lesson before? (this, these and that, those). Those is used because the speaker is referring to countries which is plural, and they are far away, hence those.
  11. Hotter: is the qualifying adjective in the comparative form. Without a comparative, it’s simply hot, and the superlative form is the hottest.
  12. Spain, Portugal and Italy: are all places and thus, proper nouns, so they are therefore in capital letters.
  13. Sunnier and friendlier: are the comparative forms of the qualifying adjectives sunny and friendly. The y changes to an –ier to form the comparative form. The superlative forms of the adjectives are; the sunniest, and the friendliest.

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