What Is an Adjective Phrase? (with Examples)An adjective phrase (or adjectival phrase) is a phrase that tells us something about the noun it is modifying. The head (principal) word in an adjective phrase will be an adjective. In the examples below, the adjective phrase is shaded and the head word (i.e., the adjective) is in bold:
- The nearby motel offers cheap but comfortable rooms. (In this example, the head adjective starts the adjective phrase.)
- These are unbelievably expensive shoes. (In this example, the head adjective ends the adjective phrase.)
- Sarah was fairly bored with you. (In this example, the head adjective is in the middle of the adjective phrase.)
More Examples of Adjective PhrasesHere are some more examples of adjective phrases (with the head adjectives in bold):
- The extremely tired lioness is losing patience with her overly enthusiastic cub.
- My mother was fairly unhappy with the service.
- Her baking always smells very tempting.
- The consequences of agreeing were far too serious.
- The dog covered in mud looked pleased with himself.
Adjective Phrases Can Be Used Attributively or PredicativelyAn adjective phrase can be an attributive adjective or a predicative adjective.
Attributive Adjective. An attributive adjective is one that sits inside the noun phrase of the noun it modifies. Look at these two examples:
- The beautifully carved frames are worth more than the painting. (This is an attributive adjective phrase. It sits inside the noun phrase The beautifully carved frames.)
- The frames beautifully carved by monks are worth more than the painting. (This is also an attributive adjective phrase. It sits inside the noun phrase The frames beautifully carved by monks.)
Predicative Adjective. A predicative adjective sits outside the noun phrase of the noun it modifies. Typically, a predicative adjective is linked to the noun it modifies with a linking verb. For example:
- The curtains look far too long. (This is a predicative adjective phrase. The linking verb is look.)
- The frames were beautifully carved by monks. (This is a predicative adjective phrase. The linking verb is were.)
Examples of Adjective Phrases Used Attributively and PredicativelyLet's look at the earlier examples:
Click on the example with an adjective phrase: