An adjective modifies a noun or a pronoun by describing, identifying, or quantifying words. An adjective may be predicate or attributive. The predicate adjective appears in the predicate of the sentence to modify the subject and in many languages is linked to the subject by a verb such as "to be or "to become": "The house is large." The attributive adjective appears in the same part of the sentence as the noun or pronoun that it modifies: "We saw the large house."
In the following examples, the italicized words are adjectives:
- "Receiving Jesus Christ as Savior is the most important act you or anyone else will ever do."
- "God becomes very angry when you use His name is vain."
- "Suicide is a mortal sin."
In the second example, "angry" is used as a predicate adjective. In the other examples, the adjectives are attributive adjectives.
In some languages, such as English, an attributive adjective usually precedes the noun or the pronoun which it modifies. In other languages, such as Spanish, attributive adjectives typically follow the nouns.
Another difference among languages is adjective-noun agreement. In English, adjectives other than "this" and "that" do not agree with their nouns in number, and adjectives do not agree with their nouns in case or gender. In Russian, by contrast, adjectives agree with their nouns in number, case, and gender, and there are separate grammatical endings for predicate and attributive adjectives.
Not all languages have a separate functional category of adjectives. In languages that do not, an adjective (e.g., "large") may function as a type of noun ("a large thing") or verb ("to be large"). In the latter case, the predicate adjective is a finite form of the verb ("The house large-is"), while the attributive adjective is a participle ("the large-being house").
An adjective can be modified by an adverb, or by a phrase or clause functioning as an adverb.