Adjectives for Kids

by Craig Shrives

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What Are Adjectives? (for Kids)

Adjectives are describing words. They help us to create vivid images about people, places, or things. For example:
  • a tall man
  • a smelly street
  • a tasty apple
In these examples, the highlighted words are all adjectives. The words "man," "street," and "apple" are nouns. So, adjectives are words that describe nouns.
adjectives for kids

Easy Examples of Adjectives

Here are some more examples of adjectives in sentences:
  • Barney is a happy dog.
  • She was an angry lady.
  • It will be a cold night.
These adjectives describe the nouns "dog," "lady," and "night."

Using Stronger Adjectives

All the adjectives we've seen so far have provided simple descriptions. However, there are thousands of different adjectives, and many of them are quite sophisticated and give the writer exactly the right description. Here are some examples of stronger alternatives for the adjectives we've used so far:
Simple AdjectiveStronger Adjectives
talltowering, lanky
smellyrancid, reeking, putrid, foul
tastydelectable, scrumptious, delicious
happydelighted, elated, joyful, merry
angrybitter, annoyed, offended, enraged
coldfrigid, frosty, brisk, wintry
To find the perfect adjective, writers often use a thesaurus to look for a strong alternative to a simple adjective that isn't quite right. Let's try one:
  • You have a clean car.
  • ("Clean" is a simple adjective. A good writer would say it is a weak adjective.)
Here are some stronger alternatives from a thesaurus:
  • immaculate, spotless, unblemished, shiny, sparkling
Let's rewrite our sentence with a stronger adjective:
  • You have a spotless car.

Top Tip

Writers who find adjectives that fit perfectly do not use intensifiers like "very" and "extremely."
  • Bobby is a very hungry dog.
  • (This is not wrong, but it is poor writing. The writer used "very" because "hungry" is a weak adjective. It is too simple.)
  • Bobby is a ravenous dog.
  • (This time, the word "very" is not needed because "ravenous" is a strong adjective. It is more sophisticated. It is the exact word the writer wanted to express how hungry.)

More about Adjectives

So far, all the adjectives we've seen have been positioned before nouns to describe them. However, as you learn to spot adjectives, you will soon notice that adjectives do not always go before nouns. Look at these examples:
  • That girl is elegant.
  • (This time, the adjective "elegant" describes the noun "girl" even though it appears afterwards.)
  • Alan was foolish.
  • (This time, the adjective "foolish" describes the noun "Alan" even though it appears afterwards.)
  • The view from the mountain top will be stunning on Saturday.
  • (This time, the adjective "stunning" describes the noun "view" even though it appears afterwards.)
Adjectives used like this are called predicate adjectives.

More about Predicate Adjectives

Predicate adjectives are used after linking verbs (e.g., "to be," "to seem," "to smell"). For example (linking verbs in bold):
  • The path is unsafe.
  • The sea seems calm.
  • The soup smells delicious.
Of interest, some adjectives (e.g., "afraid," "asleep," "alive," and "unable") are always predicate adjectives. In other words, they are only used after linking verbs.
  • Toby is afraid.
  • The troll looks asleep.

Other Ways to Describe Things

Choosing strong adjectives is an essential part of writing well. However, there are other ways to describe things. Let's look at some examples:
  • The children were hungry.
  • ("Hungry" is a weak adjective.)
  • The children were ravenous.
  • ("Ravenous" is a stronger adjective.)
  • The children descended on the sandwiches like locusts.
  • ("Descended on the sandwiches like locusts" is an example of a simile. It is a comparison used to provide a description.)
  • He had bad teeth.
  • ("Bad" is a weak adjective.)
  • He had rotten teeth.
  • ("Rotten" is a stronger adjective.)
  • He had teeth like smashed eagles' beaks.
  • ("Like smashed eagles' beaks" is a simile.)
So, as well as looking for strong adjectives, you should also think about using comparisons like similes to provide vivid descriptions for your readers. Here is a video lesson giving more information about adjectives:

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See Also

adjectives for adult learners a list of 2,000 adjectives to describe people a list of adjectives beginning with A, B, etc. nouns for kids prepositions for kids adverbs for kids

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