Program 40, Adjective, Part 1

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THE ADJECTIVE  xaricidil.com

 Semantic characteristics

According to their way of nomination adjectives fall into two groups – qualitative and relative. Qualitative adjectives denote properties of a substance directly (great, cold, beautiful, etc.). xaricidil.com

Relative adjectives describe properties of a substance through relation to materials (woollen, wooden, feathery, leathern, flaxen), to place (Northern, European, Bulgarian, Italian), to time (daily, monthly, weekly, yearly), to some action (defensive, rotatory, preparatory), or to relationship (fatherly, friendly). xaricidil.com

Qualitative adjectives in their turn may be differentiated according to their meaning into descriptive,

denoting a quality in a broad sense (wonderful, light, cold, etc.) and limiting, denoting a specific category, a part of a whole, a sequence of order, a number (the previous page, an equestrian statue, medical aid, the left hand).

Limiting adjectives single out the object or substance, impart a concrete or unique meaning to it, specify it, and therefore can seldom be replaced by other adjectives of similar meaning.

Among limiting adjectives there is a group of intensifiers, which often form a phraseological unit with their head-word, for example: an obvious failure, a definite loss, a sure sign, a complete fool, absolute nonsense, plain nonsense, the absolute limit. xaricidil.com

Relative adjectives are also limiting in their meaning.

Many adjectives may function either as descriptive or limiting, depending on the head-word and the context. Thus a little finger may denote either a small finger or the last finger of a hand. In the first case little is descriptive, in the second it is limiting. Likewise musical in a musical voice is descriptive, while it is limiting in a musical instrument.

Adjectives also differ as to their function. Some of them are used  only a t t r i b u t i v e l y  and cannot be used as p r e d i c a t i v e s (a top boy in the class, but not *the boy was top): some are used only as predicatives and never as attrubutes (He is well again, but not *The well boy). xaricidil.com

The change in the position and, accordingly, of the syntactic status of the adjective may also result in the change in the meaning of the adjective. Thus in a fast train the adjective is limiting and denotes a specific kind of train (ckopɵu moesg), whereas in the train was fast the adjective is descriptive, as it describes the way the train moved (moesg men ha 6onamou ckopoctm).

Morphological composition

According to their morphological composition adjectives can be subdivided into simple, derived and compound.

In the case of simple adjectives such as kind, new, fresh, we cannot always tell whether a word is an adjective by looking at it in isolation, as the form does not always indicate its status. xaricidil.com

Derived adjectives are recognizable morphologically. They consist of one root morpheme and one or more derivational morphemes – suffixes or prefixes. There are the following adjective-forming suffixes:

  • -able – understandable 
  • -al – musical, governmental 
  • -ary – documentary
  • -ed – beaded, barbed
  • -en – wooden, silken, shrunken  
  • -que – picturesque
  • -fold – twofold, manifold 
  • -ful – careful, sinful 
  • -ic -pessimistic, atomic
  • -id -torpid, morbid 
  • -ish – feverish, bluish 
  • -ive – effective, distinctive 
  • -less – careless, spotless 
  • -like – manlike, warlike 
  • -ly – kindly, weekly, homely 
  • -most – uttermost
  • -ory – observatory 
  • -ous – glorious
  • -some – lonesome, troublesome 
  • -y – handy, messy

Some adjectives are former participles and therefore retain participial suffixes: charming, interesting, cunning, daring.

 The suffixes -ly, -ed, -ful, -ary, -al, -y are not confined to adjectives only. Thus, many adverbs are derived from adjectives hy means of the suffix -ly (strongly, bitterly, quickly). Most of the verbs form their past tense and participle II with -ed. There are many nouns with the suffixes -al (festival, scandal, criminal), -ary (boundary, missionary), -ful (mouthful, handful), -y (sonny, doggy), etc. xaricidil.com

Compound adjectives consist of at least two stems. They may be of several patterns:

  • 1. consisting of a noun + an adjective:
  • colour-blind, grass-green;
  •  2. consisting of an adjective + an adjective:
  • deaf-mute;
  • 3. consisting of an adverb + a participle:
  • well-known, newly-repaired, much-praised;
  • 4. Consisting of a noun/pronoun + a verbal:
  • all-seeing, heart-breaking, high-born, high-flown, man-made;
  • 5. consisting of an adjective/adverb + a noun + the suffix -ed: blue-eyed, long-legged, fair-haired, down-hearted. xaricidil.com

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