Kinds of Adjectives

There are Ten kinds of Adjectives—

  1. Proper Adjectives—The Adjectives formed from Proper Nouns are called Proper Adjectives. As— Indian coast, French wine, American culture, English language, Shakespearean plays.


  1. Descriptive or Qualitative Adjectives— The Adjectives which describe the merits or demerits, shape and size, colour and form, good qualities or bad ones, of a person or a thing are called Qualitative Adjectives. As— A great man, a beautiful girl, a brave boy, a small toy, a white cow, cold water.


  1. Quantitative Adjectives—The Adjectives which express the quantity (not number) of a thing are called Quantitative Adjectives. These Adjectives are always applied to uncountable Nouns in the Singular Number. The Nouns which they qualify can never be in the Plural Number. These Adjectives are—Much, little, n o , none, some, any, enough, sufficient, all, whole, half, less, a good deal of, a lot of, plenty of, a kilo/pound/ton/quintal, a litre/metre. As—
  2. This is all the milk in the cup.
  3. There is enough sugar for the evening tea.
  4. There is no bread in the cupboard.
  5. There is one litre milk in the jug.


  1. Numeral or Numerical Adjectives— These Adjectives show Number. They are— One/two/three, etc.; first/second/third, etc.; a, an, many, few, some, several, a few, all, any, a number of, a lot of, a heap of, plenty of. These Adjectives are always applied to Countable things in both Singular and Plural Numbers. Amongst these, those which refer to definite Numbers (as one / two / three. etc. or I, II, III etc.) are called Definite Numeral Adjectives, and those which refer to Indefinite Number (as many, several, few, etc.) are called Indefinite Numeral Adjectives. As—


  1. He has four books.
  2. He has one house.
  3. He has many books.
  4. He has several houses.
  5. Five workers are there.
  6. There are no workers.
  7. All workers have gone.


Note—The examples given above under Rules No. 3 and 4 above will show that some Adjectives are both Adjective of Quantity and Adjective of Number. They are—all, some, enough, no, none, more, any, plenty of, etc. They are common to both. They become Adjective of Quantity or Adjective of Number (Numeral Adjective) according to their use. If they show quantity, they become Quantitative, and if they show Number, they become Numeral Adjectives.


As— Quantitative Numeral

  1. He has drunk all the milk  1. He has read all the books.
  2. He has drunk some milk. 2. He has read some books.
  3. He has no milk. 3. He has no books.
  4. He hasn’t drunk any milk. 4. He hasn’t read any book. 5. He has a lot/plenty of milk. 5. He has a lot/plenty of books. 6. He has enough milk. 6. He has enough books. 7. He has spoilt most of the milk. 7. He has read most of the books.


  1. Demonstrative Adjectives—The Adjectives which point to some Person or thing are called Demonstrative Adjectives. They are of two types—Definite Demonstratives and Indefinite Demonstratives. The more common Definite Demonstratives are these— This, that (with Singular Noun) These, those (with Plural Noun) Any, Such, Some (with both Numbers according to sense) Indefinite Demonstratives are these—Any, some, such, other, any other, a certain, etc. Here it should be remembered that a Singular Demonstrative should go with a Singular Noun, and a Plural Demonstrative with a Plural Noun. Therefore, we cannot write this boys or these boy. The Demonstratives which are common in both Singular and Plural Numbers are these— a certain book, certain books the other book, the other books such a boy, such boys any man, any men the same boy, the same boys


  1. Distributive Adjectives—Distributive Adjectives are those that point to Persons or Things Singly or Collectively. They are—each, every, either, neither. As—
  2. Each boy will show his work.
  3. Every man had gone in time.
  4. You can take either road, this or that.
  5. Neither road is safe at this hour.
  6. You have to take this medicine every four hours (i.e., every period of four hours).
  7. Every four teams will give a demonstration turn by turn (i.e., in groups of four teams).


  1. Interrogative Adjectives—Interrogative Adjectives are those that ask Questions. As— What, which, whose, etc. As—
  2. Which book do you want ?
  3. What book was that ?
  4. Whose book was that ?


  1. Possessive Adjectives—Possessive Adjectives show relationships. They are—My, Our, Your, thy, his, her, its, their. In Attributive form they are used before the Nouns they qualify. As—My book/ books, Your book/ books, Our house/ houses, its wings. But the Possessive Adjectives can be Possessive Pronouns also. In that case they are used Predicatively, i.e. after the Nouns they qualify. As— This is my book. (Possessive Adjective) This book is mine (Possessive Pronoun) In the same way mine, ours, yours, theirs, hers are also Possessive Pronouns (not Possessive Adjectives).


  1. Emphasizing Adjectives—These Adjectives are used to lay emphasis on the Noun. They are—own, very. As—
  2. I saw it with my own eyes.
  3. This happened before my very eyes.
  4. His own book was lost.
  5. He came this very day.


  1. Exclamatory Adjectives—What can be used as Exclamatory Adjective also. As— What joke that was ! What nonsense this is ! What a beautiful house you have !


Position of Adjectives

(a) There are two ways of using Adjectives—

(1) Attributive use

(2) Predicative use


In Attributive use Adjectives are placed before the Nouns they qualify. As— He is a good boy. In Predicative use Adjectives are placed after the Nouns they qualify. As—The boy is good. The following are the Rules of Attributive and Predicative use of Adjectives— 1. Proper and Qualitative Adjectives— These Adjectives can be used in both Attributive and Predicative ways. As—

  1. This is an Indian dish. (Attributive)
  2. This dish is Indian. (Predicative)
  3. This is a good book (Attributive)
  4. This book is good. (Predicative)


  1. But the following Adjectives are used only Predicatively (not attributively)— asleep, alive, ill, awake, afraid, ashamed, alike, alone. As—
  2. The baby is asleep. (cannot say—He is an asleep baby)
  3. The child is awake. (Not awake child)
  4. He is afraid of you.
  5. I am alone.
  6. Their appearances are alike.


(b) Adjective is used after Indefinite Pronoun (something, nothing, anything, somebody, anybody, nobody, no one). As—

  1. He is somebody important.
  2. Tell me something interesting.
  3. I have nothing new to say.
  4. Is there anything new ?


(c) If several Adjectives qualify the same Noun, it is better to use them after the Noun, though their use before the Noun is also not wrong. As— A man, strong, young and brave. I love all things—good and useful, colourful and beautiful.


(d) When an Adjective is used for a title, it is used after the Noun. As—Akbar the Great; Alexander the Great, Louis the Pious.


(e) In some phrases the Adjective is used after the Noun. As— the body politic, heir apparent, the sum total, chairman elect, a God incarnate, Governor-General, from time immemorial.


(f) Ordinal and Cardinal Numbers—If Numerical Adjectives of both kinds (Cardinal —one / two / three, etc. and Ordinal —I / II / II, etc.) are to be used before a Noun, the Ordinal numbers should be used first and Cardinal numbers later. I, II, III are read is First, Second, Third, etc. As—


  1. I have read the first two chapters (not two first chapters) of this book.
  2. The first five poems of this book are in our course. (Not five first)


(g) If both Numeral and Possessive Adjectives are to be applied to a Noun, the Numeral Adjective should be used before the Possessive Adjective. As—

  1. All my brothers are well settled. (Not My all brothers)
  2. Half my friends have already gone. (Not My half friends)


(h) The, this, that are used after the Numeral Adjective. As—

  1. All the books (Not the all books)
  2. Both the books, (Not the both books)
  3. All this is wrong. (Not this all)


(i) For emphasis the Adjective is used after the Noun. As—  Things eternal are more precious than things temporal.


(j) If several Adjectives qualify the same Noun, they should be arranged in such a way that the Adjectives suggesting the basic qualities of the Noun concerned should come nearest to it serially. As—

  1. A dirty, ugly old man. (Not old, dirty ugly man)
  2. A weak, hungry, green parrot.


(k) Determiners/Determinatives—They are the Adjectives that point to the Number or Quantity of a Noun, or limit the range of a thing by making a definite suggestion towards it (as—this, that, these, those, my, your, etc.) These determiners are always placed before the Noun. As—


  1. There are five horses (Not horses five)
  2. Here is a cup.
  3. This is my cup.
  4. I like this/that cup.
  5. I don’t like these/those boys.


(l) If an Article (a, an, or the) and an Adjective are both to be used for a Noun, the Adjective is placed after the Article. As—

  1. He is a good boy. (Not good a boy)
  2. This is the best book. (Not best the book)


Degrees of Adjectives

There are three Degrees of Adjectives— 1. Positive Degree 2. Comparative Degree 3. Superlative Degree In the Positive Degree some special quality of a thing is pointed out, not the Degree of the special quality. As— Ram is a brave boy.


In the Comparative Degree the second lower or higher degree of the quality is suggested, and in it there is a sense of comparison of the same quality in two things. As— Ram is braver than Shyam.


In the Superlative Degree the third and highest Degree of the quality is suggested, and in it there is the sense of the highest Degree of the same quality amongst at least three or more things. As— 1. Ram is the bravest of these five boys. 2. Ram is the bravest of all.


Note—(1) Absolute Superlative—Sometimes Superlatives formed by most are used in such a way that they do not carry the sense of the highest Degree of comparison; they only lay emphasis on the quality concerned. They are called Absolute Superlatives. As—


  1. That was a most unfortunate event.
  2. It was a most moving speech.


Formation of Comparative and Superlative Degree Adjectives

Signs of Recognition

There are some signs of recognition of Comparative or Superlative Degrees. They are—

1. Comparative Degree—


(a) Comparative Degree Adjectives have generally – r, – er, – or at the end.

(b) Superlative Degree— Superlative Degree Adjectives have generally – st or – est at the end.

(c) More is the sign of Comparative Degree and Most of the Superlative Degree.


The following are the ways of making Comparative or Superlative Degrees from the Positive Degree—


  1. Comparative Degree is formed by adding – er and Superlative by adding -est to the Positive Degree of Adjectives of one syllable and some of more than one syllable also.


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  1. In Adjectives ending with e in the Positive Degree, Comparative Degree is formed by adding -r and Superlative by adding -st to the Positive Degree.



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  1. In Adjectives ending with y in the Positive Degree and also having a Consonant before y, the Comparative and Superlative Degrees are formed by first converting y into i, and then adding -er for the Comparative and -est for the Superlative Degree.



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  1. If an Adjective ends with y in the Positive Degree, but has a Vowel (not a consonant) before y , the y is not converted into i, and the comparative and Superlative Degrees are formed by adding – er and – est respectively.



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  1. In Adjectives ending with double consonants, or with one consonant preceded by two Vowels, the Comparative and Superlative Degrees are formed by adding – er or – est respectively without doubling the last consonant. As—

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  1. When an Adjective of one syllable has one consonant at the end, and this last consonant is preceded by one short vowel, the last consonant is doubled before adding – er or – est for making Comparative or Superlative Degrees.



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  1. Some Adjectives have more than two syllables in their Positive Degree (including a few of only two syllables also). The Comparative or Superlative Degrees of such Adjectives are made by using more or most before them.



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  1. Irregular Formation—The Comparative or Superlative Degrees of some Adjectives are irregular. They are not governed by any rules, and their Comparative or Superlative Degrees are not formed from their Positive Degrees.



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Correct Use of Adjectives

(A) Positive Degree


Rule 1—Comparison of Equality When equal i ty or similarity is shown through comparison between two Persons, Things or Qualities, we use the pattern— as + Adjective + as As—

  1. She is as beautiful as her sister.
  2. Ram is as tall as Shyam.


Rule 2—Comparison of Inequality When inequality or dissimilarity through comparison is shown between two Persons, Things or Qualities, we follow the following two patterns— not as + Adjective + as or not so + Adjective + as These comparisons are called Negative comparisons. As—

  1. She is not as beautiful as her sister. or She is not so beautiful as her sister.
  2. Ram is not as tall as Shyam. or Ram is not so tall as Shyam.


Note—If we wish to lay more emphasis on inequality, we can use quite before so. As—

  1. She is not quite so beautiful as her sister.
  2. Ram is not quite so tall as Shyam.


Rule 3—Concealed Comparison In some sentences comparison is not explicit but concealed in its sense. In such sentences we use— not all that + Adjectives. As—

  1. He is not all that intelligent. (i.e. He is not as intelligent as he was believed to be.)
  2. Its price is not all that high.
  3. The swimming pool is not all that deep.


Rule 4—Comparison of Actions (Verbs) In Positive Degree two actions can be compared in the following ways—


(i) By using Gerund. as—

  1. Writing is as easy as reading.
  2. Walking is as difficult as running.


(ii) By using Infinitive. as—

  1. It is not as easy to write as read.
  2. It is as difficult to walk as run. In this construction it should be remembered that the first Infinitive is used with to, and the second without to.


(iii) By using had better/had rather/had sooner, as


  1. I had rather go than wait.
  2. You had rather read than write.
  3. You had better work than sit idle.
  4. We had better sit there than stand here.
  5. They had sooner die than surrender.
  6. They would sooner die than surrender.
  7. They would as soon die as surrender.


In this construction Infinitive is used twice, and each time without to. This is the correct pattern.


(B) Comparative Degree

Rule 5—Comparison between two Comparative Degree Adjective is used for comparison between two Persons, Things or Qualities, not for more than two. As—

  1. Ram is nobler than Mohan.
  2. Which is the better between these two pens ? (not better among these five pens.)


Rule 6—Use of than The connective ‘than’ is used to show comparison for all Adjectives except those Adjectives shown below under

Rule 7. As—

  1. Ram is taller than Shyam.
  2. This house is better than that.
  3. Sita is more beautiful than Geeta.


Rule 7—Use of to— For all Adjectives of Latin origin, comparison is shown by ‘to’ (not by ‘than’). The more common Adjectives o f L a t i n origin are— Superior, inferior, junior, senior, prior, anterior, posterior. It may be remembered that generally these Adjectives end with – or. By this sign they can be recognised. It may be remembered that ‘to’ is used after Prefer / Preferable also, though they are not of Latin origin. As—


  1. He is junior/senior to me. (not than me)
  2. This is superior/inferior to that. (not than that)
  3. His turn comes prior to mine. (not than mine)
  4. Milk is preferable to tea. (not than)


Rule 8—Originally Comparative Degree The above noted Adjectives of Latin origin (Superior, inferior, junior, senior, prior, anterior, posterior) are already of Comparative Degree. Therefore no attempt should be made to make their comparative degree by adding more / less or any other comparative  word. Therefore, it is wrong to use such expressions as ‘more superior’ or ‘less superior’, ‘more preferable’ or ‘less preferable’ and so on. Also, as has been explained above, ‘to’ is used with them, not ‘than’. As—


  1. He is junior to me. (Not more junior than)
  2. She is senior to her. (Not more senior than)
  3. Milk is preferable to tea. (Not better preferable)


Rule 9—Double Comparatives Double comparatives should not be used. Therefore, the following expressions are wrong—more cleverer; more better; more stronger; less braver; greater higher, etc. The correct expressions would be—

  1. He is cleverer (not more cleverer) than you.
  2. An elephant is stronger (not more stronger) than a horse.


Rule 10—When two qualities of the same person or thing are to be compared, the Comparative Degree formed by – er should not be used. In their place comparative degree should be made by adding more or less to the Adjective concerned. As—

  1. He is more brave than strong. (Not braver than stronger)
  2. Mohan is more good than wise (Not better than wise)
  3. He is more industrious than intelligent. (Not more industrious than more intelligent)


Rule 11—Correct Comparisons When two persons, things or qualities are to be compared, care should be taken to see that comparison is made between correct persons or things. No wrong comparison should be made. As— My horse is better than Ram. This sentence is wrong because in this sentence the comparison is wrong. The sentence as it is would mean as if comparison is made between ‘my horse’ and ‘Ram’. The correct comparison would be between ‘my horse’ and ‘Rams’s horse’ (not Ram himself). Therefore, the correct form of the above sentence would be— My horse is better than Ram’s. (i.e., Ram’s horse) Similarly—


  1. The climate of Punjab is better than that of Bihar. (Not than Bihar)
  2. The markets of Delhi are larger than those of (or than the markets of) Agra. (Not than Agra)


Rule 12—Proper Comparisons There may be another error in correct comparison which should be avoided. When a person or thing is to be compared with another person or thing of the same class or category, and if the comparison is to be shown by a comparative Adjective followed by ‘than’, the person or thing coming after ‘than’ should have ‘any other’ / ‘all others’ or ‘else’ before it, otherwise the comparison  would be wrong and the sentence will have no meaning. For example, look at the following sentence—


Ram is more intelligent than any other student in the class.

This sentence is correct. But if we delete the word other from the sentence and write it as follows— Ram is more intelligent than any student in the class. The sentence becomes wrong on account of wrong comparison. This sentence would mean as if Ram is not a student (may be a peon) and he is being compared with the students of the class. But when we say any other student, the meaning becomes clear that Ram is himself a student and he is being compared with other students of the class.

Similarly the following sentences are correct—


  1. This book is better than any other book in the stock.
  2. An elephant is stronger than all other animals in the wood.
  3. I respect you more than any one else in the college.


If we write these sentences as follows (after removing any other/all other/anyone else), they will all be wrong.


  1. This book is better than any book in the stock.
  2. An elephant is stronger than all animals in the wood.
  3. I respect you more than anyone in the college.


Note—It may further be remembered in this context that other is used with a Noun and else with a Pronoun. As—any other teacher, any other pen, any other doctor; anyother else, anyone else, everybody else, etc.


Rule 13—Comparison of Number/Quantity Another error is often committed in the comparisons of Number and Quantity. It should be remembered that fewer is used for Number, and less for Quantity. Fewer is always followed by Countable Plural Noun and less by uncountable Singular Noun. But more can be used both for Number and Quantity. As—


  1. I have fewer pens than pencils.
  2. She gave me fewer books than magazines.
  3. He eats less butter than sugar.
  4. She bought less gold than silver.
  5. There are more cows than goats.
  6. There is more sugar than salt.


Never use fewer in place of less, or less in place of fewer. For example, the following sentences are wrong—

  1. She bought fewer gold than silver.
  2. I have less pens than pencils.


Rule 14—Comparatively + Positive Degree If an Adjective (or an Adverb) has Comparatively before it, the Adjective (or Adverb) should be used in the Positive Degree, not in the Comparative Degree. As—

  1. This is comparatively easy (not easier).
  2. He is now comparatively well (not better).
  3. This is comparatively difficult (not more difficult).


Rule 15—Parallel/ Gradual Increase or Decrease


(a) Some sentences are so constructed that its Comparative Degree Adjective is split up and used in the two Parts of the sentence as a balance. In such sentences, Comparative Degree should be used in both the parts, not comparative in one part and Positive or Superlative in the other. As—

  1. The higher a man rises, the humbler he grows. We should not say— The higher a man rises, the humble or humblest he grows.)
  2. The nobler a man is, the more respect he gets.


(b) In some sentences the same Comparative Adjective is repeated one after the other. The form of such sentences is as follows—

  1. He is getting weaker and weaker.
  2. He is working harder and harder.
  3. The price-index is rising higher and higher.


Rule 16—Positive Degree+Comparative Degree There are also some sentences in which both the Comparative and Positive Degree Adjectives are used. In such sentences, the Positive Degree Adjective should be used with as ……as (not with one as only) and Comparative Degree Adjective with than. As—


  1. He runs as fast as, if not faster than you.
  2. She is as good as, if not better than her mother.
  3. This hall is as large as, if not larger than that.


In the above noted sentences if as is used only once with the Positive Degree Adjective, they would be wrong. For example, the following sentences are wrong—


  1. He runs as fast, if not faster than you.
  2. She is as good, if not better than her mother.
  3. This hall is as large, if not larger than that.


Rule 17—Emphatic Comparatives Emphatic Comparatives can be used in the following three ways—


(a) By using much / far / by far / still before the Comparative Degree (but not by using very). As—

  1. This house is much larger than that.
  2. This is far better than that.
  3. This is by far more important than the other.
  4. This book is still better. or, This book is better still.


(b) By using rather. As—

  1. This book is rather cheaper.
  2. This hall is rather better.


(c) By using all the. As—

  1. This is all the better.
  2. That was all the worse.
  3. That was all the more disappointing.



(C) Superlative Degree Rule 18—The + Superlative Article The must be used before a Superlative Degree Adjective. As—

  1. He is the best student of the class.
  2. This is the highest peak.
  3. He is the most powerful man. The following sentences are wrong because Article a (not the) or no article has been used before the Superlative Adjective. As— He is a best student. or He is best student.


Note—But if some Possessive Adjective (my, our, your, his, her, their) or Possessive Case (Noun + ’ s) has come before the Superlative, we don’t use the Article the. As—

  1. He is my best friend.
  2. He is our dearest child.
  3. He is Ram’s best friend.


Rule 19—Three or more Nouns Superlative Adjective is used for comparison amongst at least three or more things or persons. As—

  1. She is the best of the three sisters. (Not best of the two sisters)
  2. This is the cheapest of all . (Not cheapest of both)


Rule 20—Superlative + of/ in Preposition of or in is used to show comparison amongst three or more persons or things. As—

  1. He is the richest of all men here.
  2. This is the cheapest of all books.
  3. This is the best building in the town.
  4. He is the most intelligent boy in the class.


Remember that of is used with most of the Superlative Adjectives, but with the Superlatives showing place we use i n instead of of. As—in the town or in the class in the above noted sentences.


Rule 21—Superlative + one of/among When one of or among is used with a Superlative, the noun coming after it must be of Plural Number. As—

  1. Ram is one of the best boys in the class.
  2. This is one of the cheapest books available in the market.
  3. He is the best among these boys.
  4. This is the cheapest among these books.


Rule 22—Superlative and other We don’t use other with a Superlative Degree Adjective. (It may be remembered that with a Comparative Degree Adjective other is used when the comparison is within the same class or category, but it is not so with a Superlative Adjective.) As—


  1. He is the strongest of all boys. (Not of all other boys)
  2. This is the best of all buildings. (Not of all other buildings)


Rule 23—One of………if not/Superlative In some sentences Superlative is used twice once with one of the and again with if not the. In such sentences Plural Noun comes after one of the + Superlative, and Singular Noun after if not the + Superlative. As— This is one of the best books, if not the best book on Indian philosophy. The following are some more sentences—


  1. He is one of the greatest historians, if not the greatest (historian) alive today.
  2. This is one of the highest peaks, if not the highest (peak) of these mountains.
  3. This is one of the largest halls, if not the largest (hall) in the town.


Note—In such sentences the Singular Noun coming after if not the + Superlative is often concealed.


Rule 24—Double Superlative Double Superlatives should not be used. The following sentences are wrong because double superlatives have been used in them.


  1. He is the most brightest student. (Only brightest student should be there.)
  2. He is the most richest man.
  3. This is the most worst job.


Rule 25—Emphatic Superlative In order to give additional emphasis to a Superlative Adjective, we can use by far the / much the / the very / out and out the. As—


  1. Bangalore is by far the most beautiful city.
  2. This is much the best school.
  3. This is the very best school.
  4. This is out and out the best school.


Rule 26—Adjectives of the same degree If the same Noun is qualified by two or more than two Adjectives , all these Adjectives must be of the same Degree. As—


  1. She is the best and most talented girl. (We can’t say best and talented or good and most talented)
  2. This is the deepest and longest valley.
  3. I have the best and cheapest book.


Rule 27—Non-gradable Adjectives The undernoted Adjectives are already of the Superlative Degree. They cannot be used as Comparative Degree Adjectives, nor can the emphasising expressions such as very / extremely / highly / much can be used with them. These Adjectives are— Unique, perfect, matchless, excellent, ideal, absolute, universal, impossible, entire, whole, full, complete, round, extreme, eternal, chief.


Now see their use—


  1. He is an ideal leader. (We can’t say more ideal or most ideal)
  2. This is a unique chance. (not, more unique or most unique)
  3. This plan is perfect.
  4. I have full sympathy with him.


Note—However, these days full and perfect are being used in Comparative and Superlative Degrees also. Now we can use full, fuller, and fullest, or perfect, more perfect or most perfect. This use is coming into vogue. As—


  1. I have the fullest sympathy with you.
  2. This is the more perfect/ most perfect plan.
  3. Please give me a fuller account of the incident.


Rule 28—Like best/like most Both these uses are correct.


  1. Which of these books do you like most ?
  2. Which of these books do you like best ?



Some Other Typical Adjectives


Rule 29—Kind and sort Kind and sort are of Singular Number. Therefore, this or that should be used with them, not these or those.

  1. I don’t like this/that kind of men. or I don’t like men of this/that kind.
  2. I don’t like this/that sort of men. or I don’t like men of this/that sort.


Note—These / those sort or these / those kind are wrong expressions, though some authors have started using them.


Rule 30—Adjective/Adverb Sometimes Adjectives are used with verbs also, but in that case the Adjectives qualify the subject of the verb. If, however, they qualify the action (verb), they should be used Adverbially. As—


  1. The flowers smell sweet (not sweetly)
  2. He looked angry (not angrily)
  3. The ship appeared suddenly (not sudden)
  4. He looked coldly at us. (not cold)


Rule 31—Adjective used as Nouns Sometimes Adjectives are used as Nouns in the following cases—


(a) Represent a class of people Sometimes a particular class of people in the Plural Number can be represented by an Adjective preceded by the definite Article The. As—

  1. The rich should not be proud. (i.e. rich people)
  2. The poor should not be derided. (i.e. poor people)
  3. The humble are blessed.
  4. The wicked always come to grief.


(b) As a Singular Noun representing some abstract quality. As—

  1. Keats was a poet of the beautiful.
  2. The future is bright.


(c) Adjectives actually becoming Nouns.

(i) Proper Nouns—Canadians, Africans, Asians, Italians.

(ii) Denoting Persons—Juniors, seniors, elders, nobles, inferiors, superiors, criminals, savages, betters.

(iii) In Plural Number only—sweets, valuables, eatables.


(d) In some phrases for good, at best, black and white, through thick and thin, for better/for worse/worst, before long, in short, from bad to worse, the long and short.

  1. He has left India for good.
  2. At best, we shall get marginal profit.
  3. The agreement was made in black and white.
  4. We shall remain friends through thick and thin.
  5. We shall not part company for better or for worse.
  6. Nothing better can come.
  7. Nothing worse can happen.
  8. I am prepared for the worst.
  9. I shall start a new business before long.
  10. In short, I have lost the chance.
  11. His condition is getting from bad to worse.
  12. The long and short of the whole matter is that the match had to be cancelled.


(b) Use the following Adjectives or Adjectival phrases as Nouns— Rich, poor, beautiful, junior, senior, elder, sweet, valuable, good, better, best, long and short, bad, worse, worst, black and white, thick and thin, short, from bad to worse. We give below some typical Adjectives in the use of which there is always some doubt and a mistake is often committed. See their correct use carefully—


Later and Latter


Later is the Comparative Degree of late, while latter is antonym of former. Later gives the sense of time, while latter expresses place or position. As—


  1. Ram came later than Hari.
  2. This event is of a later date.
  3. Ram and Shyam are brothers but the latter is more cultured than the former.


Former and Latter

When there is reference to only two persons or things, we use former for the first and latter for the second. But when the reference is for three or more persons or things, we use first for the first and last for the last. As—

  1. Ram and Shyam are brothers but the former is very rich and the latter very poor.
  2. In a list of fifty candidates Ram’s name is at the first place and Mohan’s at the last.


First and Foremost


First is first merely in serial order without any suggestion of more or less in importance, while foremost means most important without any reference to serial order. As—

  1. He was the first man to reach here.
  2. Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru was the foremost statesman of his time.


Last and Latest


Last is the antonym of first, while latest is the antonym of earliest. Therefore, last has the sense of place in serial order, while latest has the sense of Time. As—

  1. The last person in the queue is my friend.
  2. What is the latest news about his condition ?


Nearest and Next


Nearest means nearest in distance, while next means after this / that in serial order. As—

  1. Which is the nearest railway station from here ?
  2. My seat was next from the door.


Farther and Further


Farther means away in distance, while further means ‘in addition to’. But further is also used sometimes for distance. As—

  1. Lucknow is farther from Agra than Kanpur.
  2. There is nothing further to say.
  3. Further he said that he was ill.


Fewer, Less and Lesser


Fewer is used for number, less for quantity, and lesser for less in importance. As—


  1. Fewer visitors came to see the Taj this year.
  2. Fewer candidates have applied for the post this time.
  3. There is less milk in the jar.
  4. He has now less time.
  5. Many lesser speakers also spoke from the platform.
  6. I have not read the lesser poets of the Elizabethan Age.


Note—If in a certain sentence there is a Definite Numeral Adjective, followed by a Plural Noun, we use less in place of fewer. As—

  1. I have ten rupees less at the moment.
  2. There are two members less in the team.


Elder and Eldest : Older and Oldest


Elder and Eldest are used for members of the same family. Elder means senior in age and eldest means senior-most in age. Older and oldest are used for other people or things, in the same sense of age. As—

  1. He is my elder brother.
  2. My eldest brother is like my father.
  3. I am older than my friend.
  4. He is the oldest man in the village.
  5. This is the oldest Church.


Note—It may be remembered that older is followed by than, while elder is followed by to. As— I am elder to my sister, while she is older than her friend.


Some and Any


Some is used in Affirmative and Interrogative sentences for request or invitation. Any is used in Negative and Interrogative sentences. As—

  1. I have some letters for you. (Since it is an affirmative sentence, we cannot say ‘any letters for you’)
  2. I do not have any letters for you. (Since it is a negative sentence, we cannot say ‘some letters for you’.)
  3. I want to read some more books.
  4. I don’t want to read any more books.
  5. Do you have some friends with you ?
  6. Do you not have any friend with you ?
  7. Will you please have some tea ?
  8. No, I will not have any. or Yes, I will have some. Little, a little, the little


(a) Little means almost nil / nothing. It has a negative sense. As—

  1. There is little hope of his success. (i.e. There is almost no hope of his success.)
  2. I have little time to waste.


(b) A little means small in quantity.

  1. There is a little money left. (i.e. small amount)
  2. I have only a little sugar left.
  3. We had only a little time to complete the work.


(c) The little means not much but all that is there.

  1. He has wasted the little money he had. (i.e. not much, but all that he had.)
  2. Make the best use of the little time you have. Few, a few, the few


(a) ‘Few’ means ‘almost nil’. It has a negative sense.

  1. He has few chances of success. (i.e. almost no chances of success.)
  2. He has few enemies.


(b) A few means ‘small in number’.

  1. I can give you a few books.
  2. I have only a few friends.


(c) ‘The few’ means ‘small in number’, but all that are there.

  1. I have lost the few books I had. (i.e. very few in number, but all those that I had.)
  2. Carefully read the few books you have.


Each and Every


Each is used for two or more than two. Every is used for at least three or more. Every should not be used for two. As—

  1. Each of you must reach in time.
  2. Each of the two brothers is highly cultured. (not ‘every one of the two’)
  3. Every one of them was ready to go.
  4. I know every street of Calcutta.


Either and Neither


Either means ‘one of the two’; Neither means ‘neither this nor that of the two.’ Neither is antonym of either. Neither / Either are not used for more than two. As—

  1. You can take either side.
  2. Either of the two brothers can come.
  3. You should take neither side.
  4. Neither of the two brothers is likely to come.


‘Due to’ and ‘owing to’ ‘Due to’ means ‘caused by’. It is related with the action of a verb. As—


  1. His demotion was due to his negligence of duty.
  2. He has risen so high due to his hard labour.


‘Owing to’ is only a Prepositional phrase. It only governs a Noun or a Nominal. It is generally placed at the beginning of the sentence.

  1. Owing to his illness, he could not appear at the examination.
  2. Owing to heavy rain, the programme was badly disturbed.


Many a It is used like a Singular Numeral Adjective, though it is Plural in sense. It takes a Singular Noun and a Singular Verb after it. It means many (one by one). As—

  1. Many a young man has laid down his life for the country.
  2. Many a great occasion has come in my life.


Verbal and Oral


Verbal means of or in words. It is opposite of ‘written’. As—

  1. There is no verbal difference between the two documents.
  2. There is a striking verbal similarity between the two poems.


‘Oral’ means by ‘mouth’, not in writing.

  1. There will be an oral test.
  2. He has failed in the oral examination.


Note—Nowadays ‘Verbal’ is also used in the sense of ‘Oral’ (by mouth).

  1. We have received a verbal message. ‘Common’ and ‘Mutual’ ‘Common’ means belonging to two or more persons or things.
  2. There is nothing common between them.
  3. This is our common property.


‘Mutual’ means ‘between two’, ‘for each other’.

  1. There was mutual exchange of views between them.
  2. There was little mutual understanding between them.




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