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Most adjectives go in two main places in a sentence: before a noun or after linking verbs like be, look, feel, seem, etc.

When you use an adjective before a noun, the adjective is in the attributive position.
    We had a delicious meal.
    She gave a wonderful speech.

When you use an adjective after the verb be or a linking verb (e.g. look, feel, taste, seem), the adjective is in the predicative position.
    Her speech was wonderful.
    The meal tasted delicious.

Some adjectives are only attributive – you can only use them before nouns.
    her late husband
    an atomic bomb
    the entire evening
    an indoor swimming pool

Some adjectives are only predicative – you can only use them after verbs.
    The baby is asleep.
    I’m afraid.
    He felt very ashamed.

Adjectives can also go after the object of a sentence, in the structure: verb + object + adjective.
    We’ve painted the bedroom yellow.
    The news made her sad.
    I’ll get the room ready for our guests.

Sometimes, adjectives with similar meanings behave in different ways grammatically.
    • Her husband is sick.
    • She is looking after her sick husband. 

• Her husband is ill.
✗ Don't say: She is looking after her ill husband.

When you use more than one adjective before a noun to describe something, the adjectives are usually in this order:

Type of adjective Examples
Opinion good, nice, beautiful, bad, interesting
Size big, small, tiny, huge, long
Other qualities hot, cold, well-behaved
Age old, young, new
Shape round, square
Colour red, blue, black
Origin English, American, African
Material cotton, wool, gold
Purpose/Type electric, manual, tropical

a wise old mantiny red spotsa cool cotton shirta young American singing star

When you use two or more adjectives in predicative position, and is necessary before the last one.
    The room was small and dirty.
    She was tall, slim and beautiful.

When you use two or more adjectives in attributive position, and is necessary:

• with colour adjectives;
    a blue and yellow jersey ✗ Don't say:  a blue yellow jersey

• when the adjectives describe different parts of the same thing;
    a diamond and sapphire ring ✗ Don't say:  a diamond sapphire ring

• when the adjectives describe similar aspects of something, to say that it belongs in two or more different classes;
    political and social philosophy ✗ Don't say:  political social philosophy

Do not use very with adjectives that already have very as part of their meaning.
    hilarious = very funny
    delighted = very pleased
    terrible = very bad
    great = very good
    enormous = very big
    critical = very important

• a very funny story  • a hilarious story  ✗ Don't say:   a very hilarious story
• a very good idea  • a great idea  ✗ Don't say:   a very great idea

To emphasize these adjectives, you can use adverbs like really or absolutely.
    an absolutely hilarious film
    We were really delighted to hear your news.
    The children think he’s absolutely amazing.

Some adjectives are ungradable because they describe something that is either true or it is not. Do not use very with these adjectives.
    free (something either costs money or it does not)
    impossible (something is either possible or it is not)
    unconscious (someone is either conscious or they are not)
    unique (something is either unique or it is not)
    an impossible goal ✗ Don't say:  a very impossible goal
    a unique talent 
✗ Don't say:  a very unique talent

To emphasize these adjectives, you can use adverbs like absolutelycompletely or totally.
    It was clear that the man was completely unconscious.
    We’re trying to come up with something totally unique.
    Tickets are absolutely free.

You can use the + adjective to refer to a group of people. In this case, the adjective is used as a plural noun and is followed by a plural verb.
    She devoted her life to helping the poor.
    The injured are being airlifted to hospital.

You often use this structure with adjectives of nationality.
    The French are very proud of their cuisine.
    Jade is prized by the Chinese as the most precious of gems.

Some adjectives have to be used with particular prepositions. Here are some examples.

angry with I am very angry with you!
capable of A force 10 wind is capable of blowing the roofs off houses.
engaged to Sue has been engaged to Tom for a year.
interested in I’ve always been interested in modern art.
keen on I’m not keen on skinny jeans.
late for You’ll be late for school.

Sometimes adjectives with similar meanings are used with different prepositions.
    They were ashamed of their children’s behaviour.
    They were embarrassed by their children’s behaviour.

Some adjectives can be used with more than one preposition, with different meanings.
    Her parents are concerned about her progress at school. (= worried about)
    The paper is concerned with the effects of computer games on development. (= related to, about)
    Your mother was very good to me. (= kind to)
    Fish is good for you. (= healthy for)
    She’s very good at painting. (= able to do it well)
    She felt guilty about lying to her husband. (= sorry for)
    He was found guilty of murder. (= responsible for)


Use -er and -est to form the comparative and superlative of one-syllable adjectives and some two-syllable adjectives.
    The cream claims to make your skin softer.
    Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world.
    She’s the prettiest girl in the class!


Use more and most to form the comparative and superlative of adjectives with three or more syllables, and some two-syllable adjectives.
    How can I make my talk more interesting?
    She’s the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen!
    You should be more careful in the future.
    He’s the most thoughtful person I’ve ever met.

-er/-est or more/most?

For two-syllable adjectives ending in -y, use -er/est.
    heavy – heavier – heaviest
    easy – easier – easiest
    happy – happier – happiest
    busy – busier - busiest

With some two-syllable adjectives, you can use both -er/-est and more/most. In general, the more/most form is becoming more common with these adjectives.
    clever – cleverer/more clever – cleverest/most clever

For adjectives ending in -ed and -ing, use more/most, not -er/-est.
    The film was even more boring than the book!
    It was the most tired I had ever felt.

For the adjectives realright and wrong, use more/most, not -er/-est.
    Sometimes, dreams feel more real than reality.

Irregular forms

Some adjectives have irregular comparative and superlative forms.

Adjective Comparative Superlative
good better best
bad worse worst
ill worse
far farther/further farthest/furthest
old older/elder oldest/eldest

The situation is getting worse.
    Sally is my best friend.
    Victor was his eldest son.

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