Program 40, Adjective, Part 2

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Morphological characteristics

Adjectives in English do not take any endings to express agreement with the head-word.  xaricidil.com

The only pattern of morphological change is that of degrees of comparison, which is possible only for descriptive qualitative adjectives the meaning of which is compatible with the idea of gradation of quality.

xaricidil.com

There are three grades of comparison: positive, comparative, and superlative. The superlative is generally used with the definite article. Ways of formation may be synthetic, analytic, and suppletive (irregular). The synthetic way is by adding the inflection -er, -est, as fine -finer – finest. This means is found with monosyllabic and some disyllabic adjectives in which the stress falls on the last syllable:

1) full – fuller – fullest

polite

profound

complete

– politer

– profounder

– completer

– politest

– profoundest

– completest

2) in which the second syllable is the syllabic [1]:

able

noble

– abler

– nobler

– ablest

– noblest

3) with adjectives in -er, -y, -some, -ow:,

tender

happy

handsome

narrow

– tenderer

– happier

– handsomer

– narrower

– tenderest

– happiest

– handsomest

– narrowest

Synthetic inflection, however, is often found in other disyllabic adjectives:

You are the horridest man I have ever seen. xaricidil.com

Polysyllabic adjectives form their degrees of comparison analytic­ally, by means of more and most:

difficult – more difficult – most difficult

curious – more curious – most curious

Note 1: xaricidil.com

Even monosyllabic adjectives used in postposition or predicatively have a greater tendency towards analytic forms of comparison than when used attributively.

Compare:

He is a man more clever thап you.

He is a cleverer man.

The superlative is sometimes used without the when the aqjective denotes a very high degree of quality and no comparison with other objects is implied.

The path is steepest here.

She is happiest at home.

Note 2: xaricidil.com

This morphological pattern (long – longer – longest) is not confined to adjectives, there are also a number of adverbs which may have the same endings, i.e. soon – sooner – soonest, hard – harder – hardest.

Superlatives are often used alone before an of-phrase:

the best of friends, the youngest of the family.

Several adjectives form their degrees of comparison by means of (suppletive forms) irregularly:

good/well

bad

little

many

– better

– worse

– less

– more

– best

– worst

– least

– most

far

farther – farthest (with reference to distance)

further – furthest (with reference to distance, abstract notions and in figurative use)

old

older – oldest (with reference to age)

elder – eldest (with reference to the sequence of brothers and sisters)

Adjectival compounds can be inflected in two ways, either the first element is inflected (if it is an adjective or adverb), or comparison is with more and most, for example:

well-known

dull-witted

kind-hearted

– better-known

– more dull-witted

– more kind-hearted

– best-known

– most dull-witted

– most kind-hearted

The following adjectives generally do not form degrees of comparison:

1. Limiting qualitative adjectives which single out or determine the type of things or persons, such as:

previous, middle, left, childless, medical, dead, etc.

2. Relative adjectives (which are also limiting in their meaning) such as:

woollen, wooden, flaxen, earthen, ashen.

3. Adjectives with comparative and superlative meaning (the so-called gradables) which are of Latin origin: xaricidil.com

former, inner, upper, junior, senior, prior, superior, etc. (originally with comparative meaning), and

minimal, optimal, proximal, etc. (originally with superlative meaning).

With most of them the comparative meaning has been lost and they are used as positive forms (the inner wall, the upper lip, superior quality, minimal losses).

However, some comparatives borrowed from Latin (major, minor, exterior, interior, junior, senior) may form their own comparatives with a change of meaning.

4. Adjectives already denoting some gradation of quality, such as darkish, greenish, etc.  xaricidil.com

Adjectives of participial origin

 Only certain adjectives derived from participles reach full adjectival status. Among those in current use are interesting, charming, crooked, learned, ragged and those compounded with another element, which sometimes gives them quite a different meaning (good-looking, heart­breaking, hard-boiled, frost-bitten, weather-beaten, etc.).

In most cases, however, the difference between the adjective and the participle is revealed only in the sentence. The difference lies in the verbal nature retained by the participle. The verbal nature is explicit when a direct object or a by-object is present. This can be seen from the following pairs of sentences:

With an adjective

With a participle

You are insulting.

His views were alarming

The man was offended.

You are insulting us.

His views were alarming the audience.

The man was offended by the secretary’s remark.

The verbal force of the participle is revealed in its limited combinability – it is not combinable with very. In the above sentences, it is possible to use very in the left-hand column, but not in the right-hand column.

Some adjectives only look like participles, there being no corresponding verbs: downhearted, talented, diseased.

In some cases there are corresponding verbs, but the –ed– participle is not interpreted as passive, because the corresponding verb can be used only intransitively:

the escaped prisoner (the prisoner who has escaped)

the departed guests (the guests who have departed)

the faded curtains (the curtains which have faded)

the retired officer (the officer who has retired)

(See participles of intransitive verbs, )

Adjectives and adverbs xariciil.com PROGRAM 40 MATERİALS

Some adjectives coincide in form with adverbs, for example, slow, long, fast, above, real, mighty, sure, the last three being used as adverbs only in colloquial style.

Adjectives

Adverbs

The examples above(given above)

fastwalk

It is real.

He is sureof it.

We could see nothing aboveorbelow

to walk fast

He is realgood.

It surewill help.

Patterns of combinability

Adjectives are combined with several parts of speech. xariciil.com PROGRAM 40 MATERİALS

1. They may combine with nouns, which they may premodify or postmodify: a black dress, a chivalrous gentleman, the delegates present.

If there are several premodifying adjectives to one headword they have definite positional assignments. Generally descriptive adjectives precede the limiting ones, as in a naughty little boy, a beautiful French girl, but il there are several of each type, adjectives of different meanings stand in the following order:

Adjectives

Adjectives

Adjectives

Adjectives

Adjectives

Limiting

expressing

denoting

denoting

denoting

denoting

adjectives

judgement

size

colour

form

age

or general

Noun

characteri­-

zation

pleasant

large

pale green

thick

old

French

horrid

small

bright red

round

young

left

nice

little

blue

square

For example:a large black and white hunting dog, a small pale green oval seed. xariciil.com PROGRAM 40 MATERİALS

This order of words is of course not absolutely fixed, since many adjectives may be either descriptive or limiting (see above), depending on the context. The adjectives are not separated by commas, unless they belong to the same type: a nice little old man. However, if there is more than one adjective of the same type they are separated by commas: nasty, irritable, selfish man (all three belong to the type of ‘judgement or general characterization’).

Postmodification is usual for the adjectives elect, absent, present, concerned, involved, proper.

The president elect (that is: who has been elected and is soon to take office).

In several noun-phrases of French origin (mostly legal or quasilegal) the adjective is also postpositional.

attorney general

heir apparent

time immemorial

body politic

Queen Regnant

Lords Spiritual (Temporal)

These noun-phrases are very similar to compounds and some of them are spelt as a compound, with a hyphen (knight-errant, postmaster-general). The plural ending is attached either to the first element, or to the second: xariciil.com PROGRAM 40 MATERİALS

court-martials

postmaster-generals

courts-martial

postmasters-general

Postmodification may be due to the structural complexity of postmodifiers (the children easiest to teach, the climate peculiar to this country), or to the presence of only or all in preposition (the only actor suitable, the only person visible, all the money available).

2. Beside their usual function, that of modifying nouns, adjectives may be combined with other words in the sentence.

They may be modified by adverbials of degree, like very, quite, that, rather, most, a lot, a sort of, a bit, enough, totally, perfectly, so… as: very long, a bit lazy, sort of naive, far enough, a little bit tired, a most beautiful picture, not so foolish as that, she is not that crazy.

The adverb verycan combine only with adjectives denoting the gradable properties. Thus it is possible to sayvery tired(tiredness may be of different degree), but it is impossible to say *very unknown, *very ceaseless, *very unique, as these adjectives do not allow of gradation.

With the adverb toothe indefinite article is placed between the adjective and the head-noun. With the adverbratherthe article is placed after it:

This is too difficulta problem to solve at once.

This is rather a complicatedmatter.

3. Predicative adjectives are combined with the link verbs to be, to seem, to appear, to look, to turn, or notional verbs in a double predicate:

He looks tired. She does not seem so crazy as before. She is quite healthy. She felt faint. If sounded rather

fussy. The food tasted good. The flowers smell sweet.  xariciil.com PROGRAM 40 MATERİALS

Syntactic functions

 Adjectives may have different functions in the sentence.

The most common are those of an attribute or a predicative.

The attributes (premodifying and postmodifying) may be closely attached to their head-words (o good boy, the delegates present), or they may be loose (detached) (Clever and ambitious, he schemed as well as he could). In the first case the adjective forms a group with the noun it modifies; in the second case the adjective forms a sense-group separate from the head-word and the other parts of the sentence. A detached attribute is therefore separated by a comma from its head-word if it adjoins it, or from other parts of the sentence if it is distant from the head-word. As predicatives, adjectives may form a part of a compound nominal or double predicate (he was alone, the window was open. Old Jolyon sat alone, the dog went mad). Predicative adjectives may be modified by adverbials of manner, degree, or consequence and by clauses, forming long phrases as, in:

He is not so foolish as to neglect it.

She is not so crazy as you may imagine.

It is not as simple as you think.

Adjectives may also function as objective or subjective predicatives in complex constructions:xariciil.com PROGRAM 40 MATERİALS

We consider him reliable.

I can drink coffee hot.

He pushed the door open.

Better eat the apples fresh.

I consider what he did awful.

objects + objective predicatives

The fruits were picked ripe.

The windows were flung open.

subjective predicatives

Adjectives may be used parenthetically, conveying the attitude of the speaker to the contents of the sentence (strange, funny, curious, odd, surprising), often premodified by more or most.

Strange, it was the same person.

Most incredible, he deceived us.

A certain type of exclamatory sentence is based on adjectives, often modified by other words: How good of you! How wonderful! Excellent! Just right!

Substantivized adjectives

 Substantivized adjectives may fall into several groups, according to their meaning and the nominal features they possess. xariciil.com PROGRAM 40 MATERİALS

1. Some substantivized adjectives have only the singular form. They may have either the singular or plural agreement, depending on their meaning. These are:

a) substantivized adjectives denoting generalized or abstract notions.

They are used with the definite article and have singular agreement:

the fabulous, the unreal, the invisible:

The fabulous is always interesting.

There are, however, certain exceptions. Substantivized adjectives denoting abstract notions may sometimes be used in the plural. Then no article is used:

There are many variables and unknowns.

b) substantivized adjectives denoting languages are used without a determiner, but are often modified by a pronoun. They also have singular agreement.

My Spanish is very poor.

He speaks excellent English.

c) substantivized adjectives denoting groups of persons or persons of the same nationality are used with the definite article the and admit only of plural agreement the old, the poor, the rich, the blind, the dumb and deaf, the mute, the eminent, the English.

He did not look an important personage, but the eminent rarely do.

The poor were robbed of their lands.xariciil.com PROGRAM 40 MATERİALS

2. Some substantivized adjectives have the category of number, that is they can have two forms – the singular and the plural. These are:

a) substantivized adjectives denoting social rank or position, military ranks, party, creed, gender, nationality, race, groups of people belonging to certain times or epochs, etc. In the plural the use of the article is not obligatory: nobles, equals, superiors, inferiors, commercials, domestics, privates, regulars, ordinaries, marines, Christians, primitives, moderns, ancients, contemporaries, liberals, conservatives, Europeans, Asiatics, Eurasians, Indians, Easterns, blacks, whites, etc.

When denoting an individual such words are used in the singular and are preceded by the indefinite article: a noble, a private, a regular, an ordinary, a Christian, a primitive, a liberal, etc.

There were a few deads missing from the briefing.

– How many have you killed?

– One hundred and twenty two sures. Not counting possibles.

He’s been working like a black.

b) substantivized adjectives denoting animals and plants: evergreens, thoroughbreds (about horses).

3. Some substantivized adjectives have only the plural form. These are: xariciil.com PROGRAM 40 MATERİALS

a) substantivized adjectives denoting studies and examinations. They have either the singular or plural

agreement depending on whether they denote one notion or a collection of notions: classics, finals

(final examinations), midsessionals, etc.

Finals were approaching.xariciil.com PROGRAM 40 MATERİALS

b) substantivized adjectives denoting collection of things, substances and foods. Some of these admit

either of both the singular and plural agreement (chemicals, movables, necessaries, valuables, eatables,

greens), others admit only of a singular agreement (bitters).

c) substantivized adjectives which are the names of the parts of the body are used with the definite article

the and admit of the plural agreement: the vitals, the whites (of the eyes).

d) substantivized adjectives denoting colours are used in the plural without any article: greys, reds, purples, greens.xariciil.com PROGRAM 40 MATERİALS 

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