Knowing grammatical terms is essential for effective writing because these grammatical terms provide a common language for discussing and talking about what is good and effective writing.
An adjective describes a noun. Adjectives often give precision and meaning to sentences; in other words, they add color to your writing.
Beware: some words are both adjectives (describing nouns) and adverbs (modifying verbs).
e.g. This is hard work. (an adjective)
e.g. He works hard. (an adverb)
Linking verbs, such as be, become, look, seem, smell, taste, require the use of adjectives rather than adverbs.
e.g. He became angry. (NOT angrily)
e.g. He looked angrily at me. (it was the action expressed in the look)
e.g. He looked angry. (it was the expression, not the action)
e.g. She looks happy. (NOT happily)
e.g. The food smells wonderful. (NOT wonderfully)
e.g. The baby was smiling wonderfully.
e.g. The wine tastes good. (NOT well)
An adverb modifies an action or an adjective.
Most adverbs take the comparative and superlative forms with more and most.
e.g. My father walks more slowly than my mother (does).
e.g. He is the most talented student in the class.
Exceptions to the rule are:
fast, faster, fastest; hard, harder, hardest; soon, sooner, soonest.
e.g. I can run faster than you (run).
Certain adjectives do not require adverbs to modify them.
e.g. essential (NOT absolutely essential: essential means “absolutely necessary”)
e.g. unique (NOT most unique or extremely unique: unique means “one of a kind”)
e.g. universe (NOT most universal: there is only one universe.)
Copyright© by Stephen Lau