Adjectives: Patterns and Positions (Attributive / Predicative) - Английский язык с Марией Батхан.

Adjectives: Patterns and Positions (Attributive / Predicative)

Adjectives: Patterns and Positions (Attributive / Predicative)

Attributive position


Classifying adjectives (the ones that describe what type of thing something is) and emphasising adjectives are used before a noun:



Social mobility is a shift in an individual's social status.

Her compositions are sheer delight.


Predicative position


Adjectives in predicative position are always the complement of a linking verb, e.g. to be, to seem, to become, to feel, etc.


I felt uneasy when I saw him calling.

Are you sure she is content with your decision?


Yet after certain verbs of thinking and feeling (to consider, to think, to find, etc.) the linking verb can be omitted:


I wouldn’t have offered her this job if I didn’t consider her (to be) reliable.


Adjectives beginning with the prefix “a-” and adjectives describing health and feelings are not usually used before nouns; instead, we use them in predicative position:



*There are some fixed phrases/idioms in which predicative adjectives are used before a noun with a special meaning: ill health, a sure grasp, a ready wit, a sorry state, an upset stomach.


Some predicative adjectives have equivalent words which can be used before a noun:



Some adjectives have a different meaning when used before a noun or after a linking verb:


‘Are you alright?’ she said with an appealing voice. (= showing compassion)

This option doesn’t seem quite appealing to me, to be honest. (= attractive, interesting)


The patient was required to remain conscious during the surgery. (= awake)

I had to make a conscious choice. (= deliberate; done in a careful way)


Adjectives after pronouns, nouns, etc.


Adjectives always come after indefinite pronouns, e.g. something, someone, somewhere, anyone, etc.


Are you looking for something special?

I would like to go somewhere quiet.


Some adjectives, including those that end in -able and -ible, can follow a noun after superlative adjectives or after the first/last/next/only:


The first available flight was for 15th March.

The first flight available was for 15th March.


Adjectives that are followed by a prepositional phrase, e.g. interested in something, go after a noun:


This book is for first-year students interested in astrology.


The same goes for a reduced relative (participle) clause. We can also use a full relative clause with the adjective in predicative position:


This book is for first-year students who are interested in astrology.


Some adjectives have a different meaning when used before or after a noun:


Responsible parents encourage their children to discuss any problems that they have. (= caring)

He was the only person responsible for what had happened. (= who did the action)


The criminals concerned were sentenced to prison. (= who were involved)

The room was full of concerned students. (= worried)


Who is the present CEO of the company? (= current)

We’ve asked every individual present at the meeting. (= physically there)


I’m fed up with her ridiculously involved excuses. (= complicated)

The host of the competition gave certificates to all those involved. (= who took part)


I used to go to the cafe opposite before it was closed. (= physically facing/across from us)

It doesn’t matter whether we have opposite points of view or not. (= contrasting)


Verbs acting as adjectives


Participle forms of verbs (usually ending in -ed or -ing) can often act as adjectives. Some of these can be used either before or after a noun:


Do you already have a list with the selected candidates/candidates selected?


Some participle forms can only be used AFTER a noun:



When we use participles as adjectives, present (-ing) participles have an active meaning and past participles have a passive meaning:


Am I the only one who’s always cheering for the losing team?

Hazel found the lost ring under the carpet.