What Are Adjective Phrases?

What Are Adjective Phrases?

Adjective phrases are so common that you probably have used them today without even knowing it! Compared to regular adjectives (that describe nouns), adjective phrases are instead used to describe other adjectives. This works to create extra vivid images and create unique and descriptive sentences. With this, you can commonly find adjective phrases used in creative writing. 

Adjective phrases are simply adjectives used differently. A phrase is characterized by a grouping of words that express a full idea but not in a full-sentence form. Additionally, adjectives are words that describe a noun.

In short, an adjective phrase works as an adjective. More specifically, it uses one or more adjectives to create a super vivid image for the reader. Normally this is done by using comparative adjectives or using two adjectives stacked together. For instance: 

  • He was louder than all his classmates 
  • I didn’t think my day could get any worse, except for the increasingly loud music my neighbors played all night 
  • The beautiful ring was made of gold 

Identifying Them in a Text 

Now that you know what some basic adjective phrases look like, you may be wondering how you can spot them out in the real world. One great tip is to look for the noun in the sentence and focus on the adjectives. 

  • I enjoyed the tacos because they were healthy and affordable. 

In this sentence, the main nouns are “I” and “tacos.” Upon further investigation, we can deduce that the tacos are the main noun of the phrase, as the adjective “healthy” and “affordable” describe them. 

As you can see, adjective phrases such as this can be very useful in describing things to people. For instance, this adjective phrase both describes the nutrition and the cost of the tacos positively. 

The phrase would also still mean the same thing if you dropped the adjectives; however, adding them allows the reader to fully understand what you are describing. 

Dropping the adjectives from a sentence is a great way to find adjective sentences. If you can drop the adjectives and still have a full sentence, you are most likely looking at an adjective phrase. Take the following examples of adjective phrases:

  • The monster’s large, shaking hands were reaching out toward me. 
  • The jumbled renaissance fair was a fun endeavor. 
  • He wasn’t a big fan of the novel because it was too short and not very interesting to him. 

If you are looking for an adjective phrase, simply start by looking for the noun. After this, you can analyze the rest of the sentence to look for multiple adjectives! 

Examples 

Adjective phrases can be a diverse group of phrases. For instance, many incorporate different adjective forms. For instance, look at these examples of adjective phrases that use superlative and comparative adjectives: 

  • I just sat through the world’s longest lecture. 
  • Only the most interesting books would be nominated for awards. 

In addition to this, compound adjectives can often be used in adjective phrases. For instance:

  • The twenty-page book was an easy read for class. 
  • I live in the most densely-populated city in Washington. 

Adjective phrases can even contain adverbs. For example: 

  • The boy read his chapter-book diligently
  • The dog obediently sat down for the large bone. 

Prepositions are another aspect that can be easily added to adjective phrases. For instance: 

  • I’ll only eat cheap pizza slices from New York.
  • Like jumping beans, the puppies were jumping all over the house. 

These examples should just go to show how complex and diverse adjective phrases can be. However, adjective phrases always go to make your sentences more descriptive and vivid for your readers. 

Adjective Phrases V.s. Adjective Clauses 

In short, a phrase is a set of words that can’t act as a sentence on its own. On the other hand, a clause contains most (if not all) of the components needed for a sentence and can usually stand on its own. 

Another difference is that adjective phrases usually bulk up sentences with new information, while adjective clauses reiterate the information that the noun describes. For instance, look at the following examples of adjective clauses: 

  • The store has a very strict no-loitering policy and has relatively low shoplifting rates. 
  • Aside from the noise coming from our speaker, the woods were completely silent. 

To illustrate the difference between adjectives phrases and clauses, look at the same sentences that use phrases instead:

  • The very strict store has relatively low shoplifting rates 
  • The noisy speaker was the only sound in the woods 

Summary

In the end, although adjective phrases can be confusing, hopefully, you have a better grasp of what they are.

In summary, adjective phrases have a group of adjectives describing a noun in detail. These phrases usually cannot stand on their own and require an independent clause to be added on.

You can identify an adjective phrase by first looking at the nouns and then identifying the various adjectives connected to them. 

Lastly, multiple adjectives can be placed into adjective phrases, each yielding a different tone and result. 

Although this is a lot of information, hopefully, you now have a grasp on the world of adjective phrases! 

Watch This Video for Further Explanation


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