Advanced Grammar for IELTS: Adjectives
- 1 Advanced Grammar for IELTS: Adjectives – Diagnostic Test, Grammar Explanation & Practice Exercises
Advanced Grammar for IELTS: Adjectives – Diagnostic Test, Grammar Explanation & Practice Exercises
Almost half of the IELTS marks that you score will be based on the vocabulary you use, and by using these adjectives you can be more fluent in English. You can avoid using repetitive language, and instead use innovative words in English tests. it will also help you to use less common types of synonyms by which you can get your desired score.
Diagnostic Test: Adjectives
Fifteen of these sentences have mistakes. These may be an incorrect word, a spelling mistake or an error in word order. Tick (✓) the five correct sentences, then underline the mistakes in the others and write the corrections.
- I’m afraid the only seat available is on the early morning flight. ✓
- Our squad notional is one of the best this country has ever produced. ==> national squad
- London features numerous histories sites such as Westminster Abbey.
- I’m writing a report on the political attitudes of the young’s.
- The health care needs of the old are a major problem for many western countries.
- We’ve won first prize? What amazing!
- A plant being built outside the town is chemical.
- Try not to disturb the asleep children.
- They are doing experiments on alive animals.
- Please don’t tell me negative anything.
- I’m afraid that’s the only answer possible.
- Our latest release is a film suitable for all ages.
- The involved people will be caught and severely punished.
- We will be supplying an antidote to all those infected by the virus.
- To avoid theft please make use of the provided security boxes.
- The report into the rail crash was rather worried.
- I always seem to play for the lost team!
- Interest in Latino music is no longer confined to speaking Spanish audiences.
- We’ve inherited a dining mahogany table from my great aunt.
- They’re selling that Victorian wonderful house on the corner.
- The players will be wearing blue and red striped shirts for today’s match.
- The interview panel felt the applicant was well-informed and honest, capable.
Grammar Explanation: Adjectives
Adjectives in English seem straightforward as they do not change their form except when they are comparatives or superlatives. But the different positions of adjectives, e.g. concerned residents or residents concerned, and the sequence of groups of adjectives can cause difficulty. This unit looks at these areas and the use of participle and compound adjectives.
Form and Use
Adjectives are words that give extra information about nouns. They do not change their form to show number or gender:
- The hero was played by a young boy. Several young girls took secondary roles.
Many adjectives are formed from other words; notice the spelling changes:
|+ ic||+ (i)al||+ able||+ ful||+ ent||+ ive|
| danger =>
Adjectives can sometimes act as nouns when they describe a particular group or characteristic. We usually use the definite article and a plural verb:
- Old people are becoming more numerous. = The old are becoming more numerous.
Note: We cannot use the possessive ’s with adjectives used as nouns or make them plural:
X The government is looking at the disabled ’s problems.
✓ The government is looking at the problems of the disabled
X The Japaneses enjoy a high standard of living.
✓ The Japanese (or Japanese people) enjoy a high standard of living.
Note: When we make a brief comment in the conversation we often use ‘what + adjective + noun’ or ‘how + adjective’:
- What an amazing story!
- X What amazing!
- ✓ How amazing!
Most adjectives can be used in front of a noun (attributive position), or after a linking verb, eg. be (predicative position):
- Attributive: We’ve just seen an exciting film
- Predicative: That film was exciting
Note: But there are some adjectives which we usually only use in one position. Some classifying adjectives (which describe what type of thing something is) and emphasizing adjectives are mainly used before a noun (see the table below):
X The plant they are building outside the town is chemical
✓ They’re building a chemical plant outside the town.
Adjectives usually used in attributive position:
|Classifying adjectives||chemical, chief, criminal, elder, entire, eventual, former, industrial, local, lone, main, maximum, medical, national, nuclear, only, outdoor/ indoor, principal, social, sole, underlying, whole|
|Emphasizing adjectives||mere, sheer, utter|
Adjectives in predicative position are usually the complement of a linking verb (eg be. become, feel, seem):
- When she heard the noise Mary became very uneasy.
However, after certain verbs of thinking and feeling (i.e. consider, find, think) we can omit the linking verb:
- I consider/ find him (to be) very reliable.
Many adjectives beginning with the letter a and adjectives describing health and feelings are not usually used before nouns; we use them in predicative position:
X Try not to disturb the asleep children.
✓ Try not to disturb the children; they are asleep
Adjectives usually used in predicative position:
|Beginning with a||ablaze, afloat, afraid, alight, alike, alive, alone, aloof, ashamed, askew, asleep, awake, aware|
|Health and feelings||content, fine, glad, ill, pleased, poorly, ready, sorry, sure, upset, (un)well|
Note: There are some fixed phrases/idioms in which we use normally predicative adjectives before a noun with a special meaning, eg. glad tidings, an ill wind, a ready wit, a sorry state, an upset stomach.
Some predicative adjectives have equivalent words which can be used before a noun:
- They are doing experiments on live animals/ animals which are alive.
|Predicative||alive, afraid, alike, asleep, ill|
|Attributive||live/ living, frightened, similar, sleeping, sick|
Adjectives after Nouns, Pronouns, etc.
We use adjectives after indefinite words like something, anyone, no one, nothing, somewhere, etc.:
X I’m looking for cheap something
✓ I’m looking for something cheap
Some adjectives, including some ending in –able and -ible, can follow a noun if the noun follows a superlative adjective or the first/ last/ next/ only.
- They say she’s the oldest woman alive
- I’m afraid that’s the last ticket available
Adjectives that are followed by a prepositional phrase, e.g. interested in something, suitable for somebody, go after, not before, a noun:
X The project will appeal to interested in ecology students
✓ The project will appeal to students interested in ecology.
This is similar to a reduced relative clause. We can also use a full relative clause with the adjective in predicative position:
- The project will appeal to students who are interested in ecology
Note: Some adjectives have a different meaning when used before or after a noun:
- The meeting was full of concerned residents. (= worried)
- The students concerned were a small minority. (= who took part/were involved)
- I’m afraid we have opposite points of view. (= contrasting)
- We used to live in the house opposite (= physically facing/across from us)
- The present chairman is getting on a bit. (= current/existing now)
- We took a vote of all members present (= physically there)
- Responsible parents have been outraged by this show. (= caring/conscientious)
- The person responsible will be caught and punished. (= who did the action)
- He gave us a ridiculously involved excuse. (= complicated)
- The president gave medals to all those involved (= who took part)
Participle ( -ing or -ed) Adjectives
We often use -ing and -ed participles as adjectives. We usually use them in the same positions as other adjectives:
- A win, even by only one goal, would be a satisfying result.
- I never find fast food very satisfying.
- Recommendations from satisfied customers got our business off the ground.
- We follow up every complaint from customers dissatisfied with our service.
- Some participle adjectives (see the table below) can be used on their own before or after a noun:
- The chosen song features the innovative use of digital sampling.
- The song chosen may be a disappointment to lovers of traditional ballads.
Note: But some participle adjectives (see the table below) can only be used after a noun:
X Please dispose of your cigarettes in the provided ashtrays.
✓ Please dispose of your cigarettes in the ashtrays provided
|Before or after a noun||affected, chosen, identified, infected, remaining, selected, stolen|
|Only after a noun||applying, caused, discussed, found, provided, questioned, taken|
When we use participles as adjectives, -ing participles have an active meaning and –ed participles have a passive meaning:
- I always seem to play for the losing team. (= the team which is losing)
- She found the lost ring under the sofa. (= the ring which had been lost)
We often use participles as adjectives to describe feelings or opinions. We use –ing participles to describe a feeling that something causes:
- It was a frightening film. (= it frightened us/ it made us feel afraid)
We use -ed participles to describe a feeling that someone experiences:
- I felt frightened when I watched that film. (= I was frightened/ I experienced fear)
Note: Inanimate objects cannot have feelings so we don’t usually use -ed adjectives about feelings to describe them:
X The report into the Paddington rail crash was rather worried
✓ The report was rather worrying (= The report made readers feel anxious.)
We can use that/ those with all participle adjectives with a meaning like ‘the one/the ones that …’. In this pattern we use that to refer to a thing and those to refer to things or people:
- The easiest route is that taken by Amundsen. (= the one which was taken by)
- Those living in temporary accommodation will be rehoused within three months. (= those people who are living in)
- I feel sorry for those left behind. (= Those people that are left behind.)
We sometimes combine participles with other words to make compound adjectives. The participle usually comes last. Notice the use of hyphens when the compound adjective is used before a noun:
- This Japanese maple is a particularly slow-growing variety.
- Handel’s ‘Xerxes’ was a rarely-performed opera until relatively recently.
- Interest in Latino music is no longer confined to a Spanish-speaking audience.
- The marines made a death-defying leap over the cliff edge.
Groups of Adjectives
We often use more than one adjective to describe a noun. The order of adjectives generally follows this sequence of categories:
Opinion + size + quality/ character + age + shape + colour + participles + origin + material + type + purpose
- The 747’s refurbished interior features fantastic soft grey leather seats.
For sale: small, old, French carriage clock.
We always put the category which is most permanent or important (usually ‘type’ or ‘purpose’) next to the noun:
X The builders took out the gas heating antiquated system.
✓ The builders took out the antiquated gas heating system.
And we put opinion adjectives before all others:
X I’ve just bought this new mobile fantastic phone.
✓ I’ve just bought this fantastic new mobile phone.
Note: We don’t usually use more than three or four adjectives before a noun. If we want to give more information we can use additional clauses:
- [It’s a charming small nineteenth-century French brass carriage clock.]
✓ It’s a charming small French carriage clock, made of brass and dating from the nineteenth century.
If two adjectives describe different parts of the same thing we put ‘and’ between them.
X The chrome steel facade glinted in the sunlight.
✓ The chrome and steel facade glinted in the sunlight. (= Some parts were chrome, some parts were steel.)
We always use ‘and’ between two colours:
X The players will be wearing blue red shirts for this match.
✓ The players will be wearing blue and red shirts for this match.
We can use ‘and’ between two adjectives which describe similar aspects of something:
- She’s looking for a stable and long-lasting relationship.
When two adjectives describe contrasting aspects of the same thing we put ‘but’, ‘yet’ or ‘though’ between them:
- The flat was located in a rundown but a central part of town.
- Croup therapy can be a simple yet effective solution to this sort of problem.
Using Commas and ‘and’
When there are several adjectives in the predicative position we usually put ‘and’ before the last one:
- I’m afraid the hotel was ancient, dirty and overpriced.
With long lists of adjectives of the same category before a noun, we can use commas and put and before the last adjective, or we can simply list the adjectives:
- I found him a friendly, knowledgeable and dedicated guide.
- I found him a friendly knowledgeable dedicated guide.
We don’t use and before the last adjective when the adjectives are of different categories:
X We enjoyed sitting in the fantastic soft grey and leather seats.
✓ We enjoyed sitting in the fantastic soft grey leather seats.
Use the word in the box to form an adjective that fits in the numbered space in the sentence. The exercise begins with an example (0).
- (o) Politics
- I have absolutely no interest in __political__debates.
|1. depend||11. argue|
|2. able||12. fashion|
|3. meteor||13. plenty|
|4. face||14. believe|
|5. hysteria||15. hope|
|6. destroy||16. horizon|
|7. disagree||17. investigation|
|8. Britain||18. effect|
|9. point||19. laugh|
|10. fertility||20. Holland|
- Entry to the single currency zone is _______ on meeting several financial criteria.
- Most public car parks now have special parking bays for the _______
- John F Kennedy enjoyed a _______ rise to fame in the 1960s.
- Our lives are ruled by _______ bureaucrats who seem to be answerable to no one.
- It was more than funny, it was absolutely _______!
- People claim the rise of popular culture has had a _______ effect on national identity.
- There are few things more _______ than people who shout at waiters.
- They say the _______ love their pets more than their children.
- I’ve made my mind up and any attempt to change it is _______.
- The soil in this valley is particularly _______.
- As a teenager, I went through a very _______ phase.
- Unfortunately, a sense of moral duty seems to be becoming increasingly _______ these days.
- Orange and lemon trees are _______ in this part of Spain.
- Two weeks in the Bahamas for less than a hundred dollars? That’s _______ !
- There’s no point carrying on, the situation is _______.
- The compass will only work when laid on a _______ surface.
- That documentary on drug smuggling was a fine example of _______ journalism.
- Dry cleaning is often the only _______ way to deal with stubborn stains.
- Some of his pathetic excuses were downright _______.
- According to recent statistics, the _______ have Europe’s highest per capita income.
Look at these pairs of sentences. Tick (✓) those which are grammatically correct and cross (X) those which are incorrect. In some cases, both sentences are correct.
|1||A Cost is the chief factor.||B The cost factor is the chief.|
|2||A This is the principal argument.||B This argument is principal.|
|3||A He had an ashamed feeling.||B He felt ashamed.|
|4||A That’s a ridiculous idea.||B That idea is ridiculous.|
|5||A The village has a local post office.||B The village post office is local|
|6||A It was sheer madness||B The madness was sheer.|
|7||A You have a ready dinner.||B Your dinner is ready|
|8||A He had an alone sensation.||B He sensed he was alone.|
|9||A We’re building an indoor pool.||B The pool we are building is indoor|
|10||A You have very alike children||B Your children are very alike|
|11||A That was a silly comment||B That comment was silly.|
|12||A She’s a mere beginner.||B That beginner is mere|
|13||A They are afraid people.||B Those people are afraid.|
|14||A We have maximum security here||B Here the security is maximum.|
|15||A He’s my ill brother.||B My brother is ill|
Indicate the correct position for the adjective or phrase in brackets, as in the example. The word and the adjective/phrase described is underlined.
- (0) There was nothing / in the book.
- (0) original
|1. Many of the portraits are in the Prado Museum.||1. (painted by El Greco)|
|2. There was something about her behaviour.||2. (inexplicable)|
|3. They gave an explanation that simply served to confuse the jury.||3. (involved)|
|4. I’m afraid six o’clock is the only appointment.||4. (available)|
|5. The state of affairs is unlikely to continue for much longer.||5. (present)|
|6. I’m afraid the person is on holiday at the moment.||6. (responsible for recruitment)|
|7. They’ve started having late night parties in the apartment.||7. (opposite)|
|8. Anyone would be deeply offended by that harrowing documentary.||8. (sensitive)|
|9. Don’t worry about getting receipts, the amounts are very small.||9. (concerned)|
|10. Flower buds often turn black and rot away.||10. (damaged by frost)|
Study the numbered options in bold in this text. Underline the correct options. Note that in some cases both options are correct.
Results of a recent survey of international air travellers have revealed (1) alarmed/ alarming discrepancies in the levels of (2) comfort and service provided/ provided comfort and service at many leading airports around the world. A (3) staggered /staggering 75 per cent of (4) interviewed those/ those interviewed felt that airports were failing to provide a (5) relaxed/ relaxing and efficient environment.
Airports in Britain and the United States came in for particular criticism. Fewer than one in ten people were fully (6) satisfied/ satisfying with the (7) provided service/ service provided at leading airports in these countries.
Researchers point to the enormous growth in passenger numbers in the last twenty years, an (8) continued/ continuing trend which has not been reflected in a corresponding growth in airport facilities.
By contrast, airports in the growing economies of south-east Asia and the Pacific have received tar higher satisfaction ratings. Many (9) questioned passengers/ passengers questioned felt that these airports, which are generally more modem than their equivalents in the West, usually offered (10) enhanced/ enhancing check-in facilities and a more pleasant environment when compared to their competitors.
A (11) discussed key factor/ key factor discussed in the report is how airports deal with flight delays. The better airports have found ways to cope with (12) bored/ boring passengers, ranging from front television lounges to children’s activity areas. (13) Delayed/ Delaying passengers seem to appreciate small details such as comfortable seating and the availability of a wide range of refreshments. (14) Affected passengers/ Passengers affected were less likely to complain if their children were (15) amused/ amusing and they were able to find inexpensive cafes and bars.
Improve these sentences by rewriting them using compound participle adjectives to replace the underlined phrases. Use suitable forms of one word from each box to form the compound adjectives and make any changes necessary to grammar and word order.
- São Paulo is a city which is getting bigger very quickly.
- São Paulo is a rapidly – expanding city.
- Northumberland is a part of England which people don’t go to very often.
- They were soon engulfed by the water which was flowing very quickly.
- In recent times changes that are caused by technical developments have had a profound impact on working practices.
- The oak is a tree that doesn’t get bigger very quickly.
- Australian parrots have plumage which is a mixture of bright red, yellow and green.
- The Midlands is Britain’s main region that produces automobiles.
- The Hubble space telescope has produced pictures that are improved by electronic means that have amazed the public.
- There is a segment of the public that visits cinemas that will always want to see corny adventure movies.
- The new wing will be opened by a TV personality whom many people have heard of.
- The desserts which are produced by ourselves are the main feature of our restaurant.
Rewrite these jumbled sentences with the words in the correct order. As a clue the first word of the sentence has a capital letter.
- They live in a wonderful Victorian terraced house.
- wine/ It’s/ ancient/ jar/ a/ Greek/ priceless/ ceramic
- new/a/centre/Our/has/fantastic/ school/ state-of-the-art/ computer
- superb/ textured/ the/ She/ ten/ sales/ found/ metres/ dark/ blue/ of/ velvet/in
- Italian/ It/ upholstery/ luxurious/ features/ leather
- orange/for/study/ e’ve/a/ lovely/ chosen/ inexpensive/ and/ wallpaper/ green/ the
All of these sentences contain mistakes. Find the mistakes and rewrite the sentences correctly. In some cases you may need to add, remove or change words; in others, you may need to change the word order.
- The house was draughty and damp cold.
- The house was draughty, damp and cold.
- Sylvia had a warm, gentle but friendly personality.
- They’ve just bought a little Persian beautiful cat.
- That documentary about racism was truly horrified.
- This was the taken route by the original explorers.
- The wealthies seem to have all the power in our capitalist societies.
- The book is bound to appeal to fascinated by crime readers.
- We comforted the afraid children after their terrifying ordeal.
- On many questions, my father and I have opinions opposite.
- They’ve chosen a blue-yellow color scheme for their kitchen.
- The injured bird appeared to have a breaking wing.
- The boat has an aluminum and glass-fiber unique hull.
- I’m afraid the city was noisy though overcrowded.
- A new form of licensing is proposed by the parliament solution.
- No punishment is severe enough for the responsible person for these crimes.
- We are an action group acting on behalf of parents who are lone.
- It was difficult because we had to choose between two alike alternatives.
- Tall anyone will find these seats cripplingly uncomfortable.
- Living in Scotland viewers may experience poor reception due to weather conditions.
- Karen found her new job to be well- paid and challenged.
- The movie is a moving fast account of events during the Gulf War.
Answer Key for Diagnostic Test
- histories ==> historic
- young’s ==> young
- What amazing! ==> How amazing!/ What amazing news!
- A plant being built outside the town is chemical ==> A chemical plant is being built outside the town./ The plant being built outside the town is a chemical one.
- the asleep children ==> the sleeping children/the children who are asleep
- alive animals ==> live/living animals/animals who/which/that are alive
- negative anything ==> anything negative
- involved people ==> people involved
- provided security boxes ==> security boxes provided
- worried ==> worrying
- lost ==> losing
- speaking Spanish ==> Spanish- speaking
- dining mahogany table ==> mahogany dining table
- Victorian wonderful ==> wonderful Victorian
- well informed and honest capable ==> well-informed, honest and capable
Answer Key for Practice Exercise
- A ✓ B X
- A ✓ B X
- A X B ✓
- A ✓ B ✓
- A ✓ B X
- A ✓ B X
- A X B ✓
- A X B ✓
- A ✓ B X
- A X B ✓
- A ✓ B ✓
- A ✓ B X
- A X B ✓
- A ✓ B X
- A X B ✓
- Many of the portraits painted by El Greco are
- There was something inexplicable
- They gave an involved explanation
- the only appointment available./the only available appointment.
- The present state of affairs
- the person responsible for recruitment is on holiday
- in the apartment opposite.
- Anyone sensitive would be
- the amounts concerned are very small.
- Flower buds damaged by frost often
- comfort and service provided
- those interviewed
- service provided
- passengers questioned
- key factor discussed
- Affected passengers/ Passengers affected
- Northumberland is a rarely- visited part of England.
- They were soon engulfed by the fast-moving water.
- In recent times technology-driven changes have had a profound impact on working practices.
- The oak is a slow-growing tree.
- Australian parrots have brilliantly-colored plumage.
- The Midlands is Britain’s main car-manufacturing region.
- The Hubble space telescope has produced digitally-enhanced pictures that have amazed the public.
- There is a segment of the film-going public that will always want to see corny adventure movies.
- The new wing will be opened by a well-known TV personality.
- The home-made desserts are the main feature of our restaurant.
- It’s a priceless ancient Creek ceramic wine jar.
- Our school has a fantastic new state-of-the-art computer center.
- She found ten meters of superb dark blue textured velvet in the sales.
- It features luxurious Italian leather upholstery.
- We’ve chosen a lovely inexpensive orange and green/ green and orange wallpaper for the study.
- but ==> and
- a little Persian beautiful cat ==> a beautiful little Persian cat
- horrified ==> horrifying/ horrific
- the taken route ==> the route taken
- wealthies ==> wealthy
- to fascinated by crime readers ==> to readers fascinated by crime
- afraid ==> frightened
- opinions opposite ==> opposite opinions
- blue yellow ==> blue and yellow
- breaking ==> broken
- aluminium and glass fibre unique hull ==> unique aluminium and glass- fibre hull
- though ==> and
- the proposed by parliament solution ==> the solution proposed by parliament
- responsible person ==> person responsible
- parents-who are lone ==> lone parents
- two-alike alternatives ==> two similar alternatives/ two alternatives which were alike
- Tall anyone ==> Anyone tall
- Living in Scotland viewers ==> Viewers living in Scotland
- challenged ==> challenging
- moving fast ==> fast-moving
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the importance of adjectives in the IELTS?
Give three examples of the adjective term "old."
Why should the test-taker use adjectives in IELTS Speaking?
Define Predicative adjectives with examples
What is the difference between attributive and predicate adjectives? Give examples to each.