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What Are Adjectives? Essay, Research Paper

The category of adjectives is one of the more debatable 1s in English grammar. In order to see what sort of jobs and inquiries we are covering with we need to turn to the undermentioned two inquiries: what adjectives are, and how we can acknowledge them.

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The most common reply to this inquiry, provided by most grammars, is & # 8216 ; adjectives modify nouns & # 8217 ; ( Pence, Hodges 51, Johnson 31 ) . This reply ( or definition ) may look obvious plenty but, as Roberts notes, this definition will take to some serious troubles. Nouns organize their plurals with -s, adjectives modify nouns, but to what category does lapidate belong in the rock wall? Clearly it is an adjectival, it modifies or qualifies wall, but rock besides has a plural in rocks. Roberts says, & # 8220 ; If we define some parts of address on the footing of signifier [ nouns organizing a plural with -s, MA ] and others on the footing of sentence structure [ adjectives modify nouns, MA ] , we will needfully happen many words which fit two definitions at once. & # 8221 ;

Not a really hearty decision if you like your parts of address in orderly boxes.

French friess offers a different definition. He gets rid of the word adjective and adopts Class 3 words ( Class 1 words are ( what we call ) nouns, Class 2 words are ( what we call ) verbs ) . His definition is that a word belongs to Classify 3 if it fit into the undermentioned expression: The [ Class 3 word ] [ noun ] is [ Class 3 word ] . Good is a Class 3 word because the good pupil is good. French friess continues by giving a set of three & # 8216 ; of import formal contrasts & # 8217 ; for Class 3 words. Neither his definition nor his formal contrasts nevertheless offer a solution to the job of the rock wall. Suiting rock wall into his expression gives the rock wall is stone, which is, if non questionable, at least non really obvious. And what about the wooden chair? Is that chair wooden, or wood? His & # 8216 ; formal contrasts & # 8217 ; wear & # 8217 ; t supply us with an reply either.

Interestingly plenty, Palmer doesn & # 8217 ; T offer us a definition, he simply says, & # 8220 ; another major category [ he is speaking about Some Traditional Concepts, MA ] is the adjectival, with two chief maps, prenominal and predicative, as illustrated by the small male child and the male child is small ( p. 59 ) . & # 8221 ; But what about the difference between the first Frenchman and the Frenchman was foremost?

Another & # 8216 ; what are they & # 8217 ; job, non addressed by every writer under probe, is what to make with words like my, any, you ( R ) , the, a, each. They seem to be able to do some claim to the position of adjectival ( as modifying a noun, or placing it ) but seem to hold different features and utilizations. French friess and Johnson don & # 8217 ; t handle these words at all when speaking about adjectives. Penny and Roberts label them as unequivocal adjectives and restricting adjectives severally, and Palmer thinks it & # 8217 ; s best to see these words as belonging to a different category, chiefly on the land that these words are ( about ) ne’er used predicatively. These words ( articles, genitive pronouns, demonstratives and words like all, some, neither ) & # 8220 ; are treated today as & # 8216 ; determinatives & # 8217 ; or & # 8216 ; clinchers & # 8217 ; ( p. 59 ) , & # 8221 ; and he makes a similar instance for no.s. Unfortunately he gives us no reply for the difference in intending between for case the right miss and the miss was right.

For Palmer it is hence no longer possible to state that adjectives, and merely adjectives, modify nouns. As stated before, some writers don & # 8217 ; t reference these words at all and in making so & # 8216 ; unfit & # 8217 ; their definition of adjectives as noun-modifiers ( clairvoyance. Hodges and Johnson ) , for it is clear that they have some modifying map.

Giving a definiton has obvious troubles, as we have seen. Possibly we can calculate out what adjectives are by a formal manner: what they look like. Most writers seem to hold on some of the most of import characteristics of the signifier of adjectives. These are normally: a. forming of comparative and greatest with -er and -est ( or more and most ) ; b. the legion derivational postfixs ( -ish, -ly, -ine, -ic, -al, -able, -y, -if, -ary, to call but a few ) ; and c. the ability to partner off with adverbs like really

and highly ( Fries, Hodges, Johnson, Roberts ) .

The comparative and greatest signifiers nevertheless are non used in adjectives entirely: adverbs can hold similar signifiers ( Palmer p. 63 ) . This means that the formal feature of the being of a comparative and greatest signifier does non intend that a certain word is an adjectival or non.

A similar point can be made about ( some of the ) postfix: both Hodges ( p. 51 ) and Johnson ( p. 32 ) note that the stoping -ly after an adjectival creates an adverb, merely Hodges notes that the same stoping added to a noun creates an adjectival. This means of class that a word stoping with suffix -y is non needfully an adjective.

Besides, non every word that is considered an adjectival can be modified by really ( and similar adverbs ) . The male child is asleep is right, but a male child can non be really asleep ( & # 8221 ; except possibly in jesting signifier & # 8221 ; ( Palmer, p. 62 ) ) .

There seems to be no formal feature that can make up one’s mind whether a word is an adjectival or non.

Taking into history all these considerations we may reason that there is no existent reply to the inquiries raised. Is that a bad thing? Possibly a somewhat different attack can assist us out here. The inquiry & # 8216 ; Which words belong to the category of adjectives and which non? & # 8217 ; may be really interesting, but we have seen that both a definitional attack and a & # 8216 ; formal & # 8217 ; attack raise more jobs than they solve.

Possibly a derivational attack can be more fruitful in some instances ( if less fulfilling for those who like to believe in footings of rigorous categories ) . Palmer ( p. 64 ) suggests that & # 8216 ; adjectives that are nouns excessively & # 8217 ; may be derived from the noun, and although nouns like steel, cotton and rock have no difference in signifier when used as an adjective, some nouns like wood and wool do, with their derived adjectives wooden and woolen. This does still non give us & # 8216 ; instant acknowledgment & # 8217 ; though, and the nouns that have the same signifier as their derived adjectives still leave us with an awkward feeling when Fries & # 8217 ; s expression is appplied to them.

Thinking about adjectives in footings of & # 8216 ; map & # 8217 ; is merely as unfulfilling for & # 8216 ; class- minds & # 8217 ; , but does do some sense. Sing the jobs refering the usage of & # 8216 ; nouns as adjectives & # 8217 ; Palmer comments that & # 8220 ; adjective map & # 8230 ; is a map of all nouns ( p.64 ) , & # 8221 ; and leaves it at that. The same can be said about his category of & # 8216 ; clinchers & # 8217 ; . The really term & # 8216 ; clinchers & # 8217 ; suggests that this class-decision is made harmonizing to map. Wordss that & # 8216 ; find & # 8217 ; have an adjective map, although their usage is rather different from those that can be regarded as & # 8216 ; core-adjectives & # 8217 ; . What & # 8217 ; s incorrect with that? Well, it seems a small confusing to add another class-distinction, viz. & # 8216 ; usage & # 8217 ; , alongside with & # 8216 ; map & # 8217 ; .

What can we state in decision? Not a batch, I & # 8217 ; m afraid. There are words that modify nouns ( map ) , a batch of them display certain features of signifier, and a batch of them can be used predicatively and attributively ( usage ) , but non all words we call or see to be adjectives have the same map, signifier or usage. That & # 8217 ; s really unfortunate, but that & # 8217 ; s the manner it is. It seems unusual that in speech production and composing we don & # 8217 ; t seem to hold that many jobs with utilizing and organizing adjectives, but possibly this is merely another illustration of the flexibleness of human existences in covering with a system that, when described in footings of regulations and categories, appears to be made up of incompatibilities and arbitrary regulations.

Bibliography

French friess, C.C. The Structure of English. New York: Harcourt, Brace & A ; World, 1952

Hodges, John C. , and Whitten, Mary E. Harbrace College Handbook. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc, 1982

Johnson, Anne Gentry A Grammar of Basic Elements of the English Language. Jacksonville: Jacksonville State University, 1992

Palmer, Frank Grammar. Middlesex, England: Penguin books Ltd. , 2ed 1984

Penny, R.W. A Grammar of Present-Day English. The Macmillan Company, 1947

Roberts, Paul Understanding Grammar. Harper & A ; Row, Publishers, Inc. , 1954

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