A qualifying adjective is one that limits the meaning of a noun, by denoting some property or quality.
a virtuous person
that running horse
Participles belong to this class of adjectives. Participles have the signification of the verb and the construction of the adjective. When the participle is placed before the noun that it modifies it is called a participial adjective.
the rising sun
that winning season
those studying students
When a participle is placed after the noun and is, itself, limited by the other words, it is parsed as a participle.
the sun rising in the East
the lion pursuing its prey
the students studying their lessons
When a qualifying adjective represents either a definite or indefinite understood object, the article the must be place before it.
the wise [persons]
the benevolent [leaders]
the good and the true
When a quality is used abstractly, the adjective is changed to an abstract noun.
Wise becomes wisdom.
Beautiful become beauty.
Comparison of Adjectives
Comparison is the variation of the adjectives to express different degrees of the quality that the adjective denotes. The variation may take place only in the meaning as when the following are added before the adjective:
- quite generous
- more generous
- most generous
The variation can also be in both meaning and form; as in:
There are three degrees of comparison:
- the positive
- the comparative
- the superlative
The positive denotes a quality without comparison.
The pen is long.
The street is long.
The Atlantic cable is long.
Had pen, street, and Atlantic cable been compared with each other in respect to length, we should have had
- a long pen
- a longer street
- the longest cable
The comparative expresses a higher or a lower degree than the positive.
The sun is larger than the moon.
The march was less difficult by night than by day.
The superlative expresses the highest or the lowest degree of the quality.
The dog is the most faithful of animals.
Sampson was our strongest warrior.
The miser is the least esteemed of men.
He received the lowest grades on the test.
In respect to intensity, comparison may show equal or unequal degrees.
Monday will be as convenient as Tuesday.
Truth is stranger than fiction.
the sweetest, wildest land on earth
In respect to the terms compared, the term may show:
- that two objects, qualities, or conditions are contrasted in the comparative degrees one with two more, or with others in the superlative.
- that different objects may possess the same quality is equal or in unequal degrees.
- that, in different circumstances, the same quality may belong to the same object in equal or unequal degrees.
- that different qualities may belong to the same object in equal and unequal degrees.
George is older than his brother.
George is the older of the two brothers.
He is more prosperous that scrupulous.
Many animals are more active by night than by day.
Of all jewels, the diamond is the most precious.
Of all men, he was the wisest.
Cotton is as white as wool.
whiter than hemp.
This tree is the tallest of all (of the trees.)
Our commander was as self-possessed in danger as in safety.
The Asiatic cholera is more prevalent in autumn than in winter and usually most prevalent in the summer.
The aid was as timely as acceptable.
The servant was more skillful than willing.
The different qualities may belong to different objects in equal or rarely if ever in unequal degrees.
He was as agreeable as his opponent was offensive.
Scarcely, with priority, he was more agreeable than his opponent was offensive.
In respect to form, comparison may take place:
- without any change of the adjective, as in comparison of equality or when an adverb is applied to vary the meaning.
- by a change of termination as with warm, warmer, and warmest
Formation of the Comparative and the Superlative
The comparative of monosyllable adjectives is regularly formed by adding r or er to the positive. The superlatives of these adjectives are formed by adding st or est.
wise, wiser, wisest
bold, bolder, boldest
Two syllable positive adjectives ending in le or y are also compared like monosyllable adjectives.
noble, nobler, noblest
worthy, worthier, worthiest
The comparative of most adjectives of more than one syllable are formed by prefixing the positive form of the adjective with more or less. The superlative is formed by prefixing the positive form with most or least.
industrious, more industrious, most industrious
beautiful, less beautiful, least beautiful
The following adjectives are compared irregularly:
|old||older or elder||oldest or eldest|
Adjectives terminating in ish indicate a quality in a lower degrees than the positive.
Bluish indicates a color that approaches the color blue.
The meaning of the adjective is also varied by the addition of such adverbs as somewhat, rather, slightly, a little, too, vary, greatly, exceedingly, and others. The formation of the comparative and superlative may be done by adding adverbs such as much, far, vastly, altogether, by far, and many others.
rather weak tea
Citation was much the better horse.
Lincoln was a far wiser leader.
Adjectives derived from proper names, numerals those referring to position, material, and form; and those having an absolute signification are seldom, if ever, compared.
With the exception of much, few first, last, little, less, least, many, more, and most, the pronominal adjectives are not compared.