Adjectives | Attributive Position

Attributive adjectives go before the nouns they qualify.

  • She is a beautiful (adjective) girl (noun).
  • They have a big (adjective) house (noun) in the city.
  • This is a vexed (adjective) problem (noun).
  • She married a rich (adjective) man (noun).

Attributive adjectives after nouns

1. Attributive adjectives can be put after nouns. This happens in certain fixed phrases.

Examples are: Attorney General, court martial, poet laureate, time immemorial, heir apparent etc.

2. Certain adjectives ending in ‘-ible’ and ‘-able’ are also put after the nouns they qualify.

  • We tried all means (noun) possible (adjective). (= We tried all means that were possible)
  • Book all the tickets available. (=Book all the tickets that are available)

3. Adjectives are always placed after words like something, everything, anything, nothing, somebody, everybody, somewhere etc.

  • Let us go somewhere quiet.
  • I heard something interesting today.
  • Nothing logical ever happens there.

Adjectives used only in attributive position

Some adjectives are used only in attributive position.

Common examples are: elder, eldest, live, little, mere, sheer etc.

  • My elder sister is a doctor.
  • Can you eat a live fish?
  • They have a nice little house in the city.
  • It was sheer madness.
  • She is a mere child.

After a verb, other words must be used.

  • She is older than me. (NOT …elder than me.)
  • The fish is still alive. (NOT … is still live.)
  • Their house is small. (NOT … is little)
  • The baby fell asleep. (NOT …fell sleeping.)

Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets.

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