Posted by: episystechpubs | January 27, 2015

Editor’s Corner: Better, stronger, faster

We’re back with adjectives for one more day. Today we’ll cover descriptive adjectives, which shouldn’t be so tough. Descriptive adjectives are what most of us probably think of when we are playing Mad Libs: chewy, furry, green, shiny, angry, sultry, sandy, vicious, despicable, pretty, etc.

Here’s the thing to remember about descriptive adjectives: they have comparative and superlative forms. In the following examples, the adjectives are bolded:

Comparative

The taffy Jane makes is chewier than my aunt’s taffy.

Jim’s chest is furrier than Sam’s.

Chihuahuas are more vicious than other dogs when protecting their chicken bones.

Superlative

The taffy that Jane makes is the chewiest that I’ve ever eaten.

Jim has the furriest chest in town; he won the Alameda County Sasquatch trophy three years in a row.

Chihuahuas are the most vicious dogs known to humans.

You’ll notice in the examples above that sometimes descriptive adjectives are formed by adding more or most before the adjective. According to The McGraw-Hill Handbook of English Grammar and Usage, the two patterns used to form the comparative and superlative depend partly on the word’s history and partly on the word’s length. Some two-syllable words (especially from French) and all three-syllable (or longer) adjectives follow the more/most pattern. The patterns are as follows:

-er/-est Pattern more/most Pattern
brave, braver, bravest ambitious, more ambitious, most ambitious
shy, shyer, shyest serious, more serious, most serious
witty, wittier, wittiest loyal, more loyal, most loyal
happy, happier, happiest vicious, more vicious, most vicious

You can combine descriptive adjectives, though there are rules about when to use and when not to use commas. More on that later. If you can’t wait, we did cover it in the past here: https://episystechpubs.com/2014/02/18/editors-corner-commas-adjectives-and-some-crazy-rules/

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

www.symitar.com

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