Adjectives and Adverbs

Modifiers help writers create clear and lively sentences. Adjectives are modifiers that describe or explain nouns. Adverbs are modifiers that describe or explain verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs.

The sea fiercer now with the turning tide, white-capped and steep, broke harshly in the bay.
—from "The Birds" written by Daphne du Maurier

In the sentence, adjectives (in blue) and adverbs (in red) help bring the scene to life.


An adjective is a word used to describe a noun or pronoun. Adjectives answer the questions What kind? Which one? How many? or How much?
What kind? rare coin
Which one? first try
How many? seven days
How much? no money

A noun used as an adjective answers the question What kind? or Which one? about a noun that follows it.
What kind? snack food
Which one? ring finger

A proper adjective is a proper noun used as an adjective or an adjective formed from a proper noun (Boston newspaper, Indian curry).

A compound adjective is an adjective made up of more than one word. Some compound adjectives are hyphenated (long-distance operator) and some are combined (household goods).

Many different kinds of pronouns can be used as adjectives when they modify nouns that follow them.
our aunt, this book, some money, which answer


An adverb is a word that modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. Adverbs modifying verbs answer the questions Where? When? In what manner? or To what extent?
Where? turned right
When? awoke early
In what manner? easily won
To what extent? thoroughly understood

When adverbs modify adjectives or other adverbs, they answer the question To what extent?
Modifying an adjective – slightly nervous
Modifying another adverb – examined very closely