Nouns as Adjectives

Usually adjectives modify nouns, but sometimes we use nouns to describe other nouns.  We can use a noun as an adjective, and like all adjectives this “noun adjective” comes before the noun it’s modifying, and it always takes a singular form.
  • A flower garden (a garden of flowers)
  • A window seat (a seat near the window)
  • A bike shop (a shop that sells bikes)
  • A ten-minute walk (a walk that takes ten minutes)
  • A house key (a key for your house)
  • A three-course meal (a meal that has three courses)

Because the “noun adjective” is acting as an adjective, it never takes a plural form.

  • Flower gardens (NOT flowers gardens)
  • Window seats (NOT windows seats)
  • Bike shops (NOT bikes shops)
  • A ten-minute walk (NOT a ten-minutes walk)
  • House keys (NOT houses keys)
  • Three course meals (NOT three courses meals)

Adjective Word Order

Using adjectives is crucial when describing a noun or pronoun, and often we use two or more adjectives together.  Good writers and speakers are able to put adjectives in a natural sounding word order to create a clear mental image for the reader or listener, so we need to be aware of the correct adjective order when using multiple adjectives in a sequence.

The order of adjectives is usually: quantity, opinion, size, age, shape, colour, origin, material, purpose.  However, this order can vary slightly, and is often influenced by friends, community, and media.  The first three categories tend to have more variation than the last three.

QUANTITY


OPINION

APPEARANCE

AGE

 

COLOR

ORIGIN / 
MATERIAL

 

TYPE / 
FUNCTION

Two Pretty

SIZE

New Red

ORIGIN

TYPE

Five Bad Huge Young Dark blue Mexican 1st class
Hundreds Smart Short Old Bright pink Canadian Multi-purpose
Many Difficult Skinny Baby Light green Solar Wireless
Several Interesting Tall Teenage Yellowish Oceanic LCD
Few Boring Heavy Youthful Pastel Northern Women’s
Little Delicious

SHAPE

Elderly Silver

MATERIAL

FUNCTION

Each Disgusting Square / Oval Ancient Colourless Glass Dancing
 All  Stupid  Elongated
Comfortable

CONDITION

Prehistoric Pale Cloth Cooking
Cheap Hot Recent Polka-dot Concrete Sleeping
Funny Broken Modern Striped  Cotton Running
Useful Worn  Leather Work
Valuable Shiny  Ceramic Reference

.

Aaaand here’s some examples!

QUANTITY OPINION SIZE AGE SHAPE COLOR ORIGIN MATERIAL PURPOSE NOUN
two  expensive black European  racing cars
 a beautiful old red brick house
a few magnificent Mexican beach blankets
one interesting teenaged Korean girl
a square Italian  marble  dining table
many well-made tiny round resin earrings
several cheap long shiny stainless steel cooking knives

Adjectives: Participle Modifiers

Many adjectives of emotion and feeling are formed with the -ed or -ing ending, called Participle Modifiers, which designate the source or the receiver of the emotion or feeling.

We use a present participle, ending in -ing, to modify a noun that is the source (or cause) of the feeling or emotion. Present participles come from active verbs and have an active meaning.

We use a past participle, ending in -ed, to modify a noun that is the receiver of the feeling or emotion.  Past participles come from passive verbs and have a passive meaning.
.
The movie is entertaining.  I am entertained.
Her explanation is confusing.  I am confused.
Work today was very exhausting.  I am very exhausted.
.
Positive

verb

-ed

-ing

noun

You ____ me!

I’m _____!

How _____!

What _____!

amaze

amazed

amazing

amazement

amuse

amused

amusing

amusement

astound

astounded

astounding

astonishment

captivate

captivated

captivating

captivation

challenge

challenged

challenging

a challenge

charm

charmed

charming

charm

comfort

comforted

comforting

comfort

concern

concerned

concerning

concern

convince

convinced

convincing

conviction

encourage

encouraged

encouraging

encouragement

energize

energized

energizing

energy

entertain

entertained

entertaining

entertainment

excite

excited

exciting

excitement

exhaust

exhausted

exhausting

exhaustion

fascinate

fascinated

fascinating

fascination

flatter

flattered

flattering

flattery

interest

interested

interesting

interest

intrigue

intrigued

intriguing

intrigue

move

moved

moving

please

pleased

pleasing (pleasant)

pleasure

relax

relaxed

relaxing

relaxation

relieve

relieved

relieving

a relief

satisfy

satisfied

satisfying

satisfaction

soothe

soothed

soothing

surprise

surprised

surprising

a surprise

tempt

tempted

tempting

temptation

touch

touched

touching

thrill

thrilled

thrilling

a thrill

.

Negative

verb

-ed

-ing

noun

You ____ me!

I’m _____!

How _____!

What _____!

aggravate

aggravated

aggravating

aggravation

alarm

alarmed

alarming

alarm

annoy

annoyed

annoying

annoyance

bore

bored

boring

boredom

confuse

confused

confusing

confusion

depress

depressed

depressing

depression

devastate

devastated

devastating

devastation

disappoint

disappointed

disappointing

disappointment

discourage

discouraged

discouraging

discouragement

disgust

disgusted

disgusting

disgust

displease

displeased

displeasing

displeasure

distress

distressed

distressing

distress

disturb

disturbed

disturbing

disturbance

embarrass

embarrassed

embarrassing

embarrassment

exasperate

exasperated

exasperating

exasperation

fatigue

fatigued

fatiguing

fatigue

frighten

frightened

frightening

fright

frustrate

frustrated

frustrating

frustration

horrify

horrified

horrifying

horror

insult

insulted

insulting

an insult

irritate

irritated

irritating

irritation

mortify

mortified

mortifying

mortification

overwhelm

overwhelmed

overwhelming

overwhelmingness

puzzle

puzzled

puzzling

puzzlement

shock

shocked

shocking

a shock

sicken

sickened

sickening

sickness

terrify

terrified

terrifying

terror

threaten

threatened

threatening

a threat

tire

tired

tiring

tiredness

trouble

troubled

troubling

trouble

unsettle

unsettled

unsettling

unsettledness

upset

upset

upsetting