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The adjective expresses the categorial semantics of property of a substance. It means that each adjective used in the text presupposes relation to some noun the property of whose referent it denotes, such as its material, colour, dimensions, position, state, and other characteristics both permanent and temporary. It follows from this that, unlike nouns, adjectives do not possess a full nominative value. Indeed, words like long, hospitable, fragrant cannot effect any self-dependent nominations; as units of informative sequences they exist only in collocations showing what is long, who is hospitable, what is fragrant.

Adjectives are distinguished by a specific combinability with nouns, which they modify, if not accompanied by adjuncts, usually in pre-position, and occasionally in postposition; by a combinability with link-verbs, both functional and notional; by a combinability with modifying adverbs.

In the sentence the adjective performs the functions of an attribute and a predicative.

When used as predicatives or post-positional attributes, a considerable number of adjectives, in addition to the general combinability (сочетаемость) characteristics of the whole class, are distinguished by a complementive (дополнительный) combinability with nouns. The complement-expansions of adjectives are effected by means of prepositions. E.g. fond of, jealous of, curious of, suspicious of; angry with, sick with; serious about, certain about, happy about; grateful to, thankful to, etc. Many such adjectival collocations render essentially verbal meanings and some of them have direct or indirect parallels among verbs. Cf.: be fond of — love, like; be envious of — envy; be angry with — resent; be mad for, about — covet; be thankful to — thank.


To the derivational features of adjectives, belong a number of suffixes and prefixes of which the most important are: -ful (hopeful), -less (flawless), -ish (bluish), -ous (famous), -ive (decorative), -ic (basic); un- (unprecedented), in- (inaccurate), pre- (premature). Among the adjectival affixes should also be named the prefix a-, constitutive for the stative subclass which is to be discussed below.


Among the words signifying properties of a nounal referent there is a lexemic set which claims to be recognised as a separate part of speech, i.e. as a class of words different from the adjectives in its class-forming features. These are words built up by the prefix a- and denoting different states, mostly of temporary duration. Here belong lexemes like afraid, agog, adrift, ablaze.

Notional words signifying states and specifically used as predicatives were first identified as a separate part of speech in the Russian language by L. V. Shcherba and V. V. Vinogradov. The two scholars called the newly identified part of speech the "category of state" (and, correspondingly, separate words making up this category, "words of the category of state"). Here belong the Russian words mostly ending in -o, but also having other suffixes: тепло, зябко, одиноко, радостно, жаль, лень, etc. Traditionally the Russian words of the category of state were considered as constituents of the class of adverbs, and they are still considered as such by many Russian scholars.

On the analogy of the Russian "category of state", the English qualifying a-words of the corresponding meanings were subjected to a lexico-grammatical analysis and given the part-of-speech heading "category of state". This analysis was first conducted by B. A. Ilyish and later continued by other linguists. The term "words of the category of state", being rather cumbersome from the technical point of view, was later changed into "stative words", or "statives".


All the adjectives are traditionally divided into two large subclasses: qualitative and relative.

Relative adjectives express such properties of a substance as are determined by the direct relation of the substance to some other substance. E.g.: wood — a wooden hut; mathematics — mathematical precision; history — a historical event; table — tabular presentation; colour — coloured postcards; surgery — surgical treatment; the Middle Ages — mediaeval rites.

The nature of this "relationship" in adjectives is best revealed by definitional correlations. Cf.: a wooden hut — a hut made of wood; a historical event — an event referring to a certain period of history; surgical treatment — treatment consisting in the implementation of surgery; etc.

Qualitative adjectives, as different from relative ones, denote various qualities of substances which admit of a quantitative estimation, i.e. of establishing their correlative quantitative measure. The measure of a quality can be estimated as high or low, adequate or inadequate, sufficient or insufficient, optimal or excessive. Cf.: an awkward situation — a very awkward situation; a difficult task — too difficult a task; an enthusiastic reception — rather an enthusiastic reception; a hearty welcome — not a very hearty welcome; etc.


1.Comparative and superlative forms in -er, -est and more, most, respectively. Irregular forms: better, best; worse, worst; farther/ further, farthest/ furthest. Comparative constructions with the + adjective. Structures of sufficiency (enough) and excess (too).

2 Intensification: high: very, most, extremely, extra, seriously (stupid); medium: quite, rather, pretty, fairly (cool).

3 Attenuation (ослабление): slightly (better), a little (different), a bit salty; not very (good), hardly (likely).

4 Quantification (определение количества): exact: one-mile; a mile (long); 2-foot-thick; 2 feet thick; 3-year-old; 3 years old; non-exact: not that long; this big.

5 Description (описание): by adjs: pale green, dark blue, deep red; by advs: strangely silent, cheerfully confident; by nouns: pitch black, paper-thin, world-wide.

6 Submodification: just as easy, really quite angry, far too expensive, quite old enough.


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