Adjectives are describing words that add colour to your writing


Find out what adjectives are, and how you can use them to make your writing more interesting.

An easy-to-remember definition is that they are describing words. They usually describe a noun (a thing, person or place).

Examples are words like good, bad, fast, slow, big, small, important, happy, sad . They can go before the noun (the small dog) or after it with an appropriate verb (the dog is small, or the dog seems small).

A describing word or two can add colour to your writing by providing interesting, relevant detail. For example, ‘she was wearing a dress’ is a simple statement of fact, but doesn’t give the reader much of a picture. Compare it to ‘she was wearing a beautiful, yellow dress‘.

If you use more than one (beautiful and yellow in this example), separate them with a comma. For example:

We saw a lovely, big house for sale.

My brother is young, handsome and clever.

(Quick self-test: what are the five adjectives in the two sentences above? Answers at the bottom of the page!)

Describing words are good for adding detail, but don’t overuse them. Choose the ones that are most revealing. For example ‘she was carrying an enormous bag’ is more effective than ‘she was carrying a big, brown, embroidered, cotton bag’.

A quick and easy way to improve your writing is to see how your favourite authors use describing words to add sparkle to their prose or poetry. When you are reading, underline them. Why do you think the author chose that particular word or words over the alternatives?

We can also use adjectives to compare things by adding -er or -est to them. For example:

Sally is taller than Hillary.

The test seemed harder than last year.

Joe is the oldest in his class.

This doesn’t work for words with more than two syllables, though.

Mary is more intelligent than Brian.

She is the most intelligent in her class.


So, what’s the difference between bad and badly, or easy and easily? Clickhere to find out.

(Answers to the quick self-test: lovely, big, young, handsome and clever).

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