How to Use Adjectives and Adverbs


Adjectives are words that describe nouns or pronouns. Generally an adjective that comes before a noun will be written right next to the noun. In the sentence “The black cat ran,” cat is the noun and the adjective black comes directly before it. An adjective that comes after the noun will also usually follow a verb, as it does in the sentence “The cat is black.”

There are two types of adjectives. These are “fact” adjectives and “opinion” adjectives. A fact adjective states something that can not be changed. In the sentence “The sky is blue,” the adjective “blue” is factual because the sky is always blue. Colors, sizes, shapes, and other similar types of description tend to be fact adjectives. An opinion adjective shows the personal preference of the speaker. In the sentence “That car is hideous,” the adjective “hideous” is an opinion — to a different speaker the car may be “perfect”, “beautiful”, or simply “okay”.

More than one adjective can be used to describe a noun. You can do this by simply placing the adjectives next to each other if they come before a noun. “The small black cat ran,” is an example of this. If the two adjectives come after the noun you should insert the word “and” between the adjectives: “The cat is small and black.”

Finally, the words “this, that, these, and those,” can work as either adjectives or as pronouns. These words are adjectives when they come directly in front of the noun. Going back to the sentence, “That car is hideous,” the word “That” is an adjective that tells which particular car the speaker is talking about.


Adverbs are words that can modify or describe adjectives, verbs, and adverbs. They may come before or after the modifier. Adverbs will answer the questions How? Where? and When? Remember also that adverbs will often end with an “ly.”

In the sentence, “The cat walks slowly,” the word “slowly” is an adverb describing how the cat walks. It is also an example of how an adverb modifies a verb.

In the sentence, “The food is grown locally,” the word “locally” is an adverb describing where food is grown.

“When” can be answered by an adverb either as a specific time period, a frequency of times something is done, or the duration of time it takes to do something. In, “She bought it today,” the word “today” describes the specific time period an item was bought. In, “She always laughs,” the word “always” is an adverb that shows how frequently she laughs. In, “The cat is perpetually moody,” the adverb “perpetually” shows the duration of the cats moodiness. Because “moody” is an adjective describing cat, this is also an example of how an adverb modifies an adjective.

The word “very” is an adverb often used to modify another adverb. In this case, the adverb will come directly before the other, as in “The cat walks very slowly.”