Kinds of Adjectives: Descriptive Adjectives

The adjective is one of the most essential parts of speech that is used extensively in speech and in writing. There are many kinds of adjectives, but in this article, the largest group under this word type will be discussed—the descriptive adjectives.

Definition of Descriptive Adjectives

The descriptive adjectives can be simply defined as the type of adjectives that are used to express the size, color, or shape of a person, a thing, an animal, or a place. They are used to provide more information to a noun by describing or modifying it.

Explanation of Descriptive Adjectives

From the definition above, it can be said that a descriptive adjective adds meaning to the noun that it modifies. This kind of adjective describes a noun in detail by giving an attribute to that particular word. You should kow that descriptive adjectives usually express things that are observable through the five senses (touch, taste, sight, smell, and sound).

If you find it hard to spot the descriptive adjectives in the sentence, you can ask the question:

“Which one?” or more appropriately, “What does it look like?” in reference to a noun.

Examples of Descriptive Adjectives







The underlined words in the sample sentences below are some examples of descriptive adjectives.

  • She brushed her long brown hair.
  • The slender man appeared out of nowhere.
  • You should always eat green leafy vegetables.
  • The fat boy teased the small kids in the park.
  • The spider has hairy legs.
  • The old man asked the pretty girl for food.
  • The extremely bright light almost blinded me.
  • That thin girl is my best friend.
  • The attractive guy fell off his black horse.
  • I think he’s pretty short for his age.

Examples of Descriptive Adjectives in Literature

The underlined words in the sentences below are all examples of descriptive adjectives used in literary pieces.

  • “This isn’t a romance. You’re not a damsel in distress and I’m not the handsome prince come to save you.” – C.J Roberts, Captive in the Dark
  • “A library is like an island in the middle of a vast sea of ignorance, particularly if the library is very tall and the surrounding area has been flooded.” – Lemony Snicket, Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can’t Avoid
  • “I learned a long time ago not to judge people by what they look like, sound like, or by the clothes they wear. Just because a house is nice and shiny out front doesn’t mean it’s not rotting on the inside.” – Sherrilyn Kenyon, Infinity
  • “O Never give the heart outright,
    For they, for all smooth lips can say,
    Have given their hearts up to the play.”

– W.B Yeats, In the Seven Woods: Being Poems Chiefly of the Irish Heroic Age

  • “His dark hair was swept to one side, like he’d just come from a walk on the beach. He looked even better than he had six months ago – tanner and taller, leaner and more muscular.” – Rick Riordan, The Mark of Athena
  • “My skin is kind of sort of brownish pinkish yellowish white. My eyes are greyish blueish green, but I’m told they look orange in the night. My hair is reddish blondish brown, but it’s silver when it’s wet, and all the colors I am inside have not been invented yet.” – Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends
  • “A breeze ruffled the neat hedges of Privet Drive, which lay silent and tidy under the inky sky, the very last place you would expect astonishing things to happen.” – J.K Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
  • “I am not pretty. I am not beautiful. I am as radiant as the sun.” – Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games
  • “I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked.” – Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
  • “Science and religion are not at odds. Science is simply too young to understand.” – Dan Brown, Angels and Demons


Functions of Descriptive Adjectives

As the name suggests, the descriptive adjective is a kind of adjectives which is used to describe a noun. It does not only add meaning or provide additional information to a noun, but adds color to the entire text in general. Since there are a lot of nouns in the English language, there is also a very long list of descriptive adjectives available that can modify them.

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