Adjectival Examples [Words, Phrases, and Clauses]

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Adjectival is an umbrella term for words, phrases, and clauses functioning as an adjective.

Learn more about adjectivals:

This post contains example sentences of adjectivals divided into four categories, fourth of which contains mix of adjectival words, adjectival phrases, and adjectival clauses – a scenario closer to reality and hence the place to practice your adjectival skills.

To get the most out of these examples, notice why these words, phrases, and clauses are adjectivals. That is, identify the noun they’re describing.

Note: first, adjectival in each example sentence has been underlined; second, noun (or noun phrase) being described by the adjectival has been shown in magenta font.

1. Examples of adjectival words

Any word – adjective and occasionally noun – that functions as an adjective belongs to this category.

1.1 Adjective

Adjective words include not only regular adjective words such as little, blue, and hot, but also participles such as boiling and fried. (We’ll use the word adjective for adjective word.) They come in two flavors: attributive adjectives that are placed before the nouns they describe and predicative adjectives that are placed after the linking verb.

(Comments that go with examples are in square brackets.)

Attributive adjectives

With little activity at night, it’s a sleepy town.

The puma leapt over the wooden fence to enter the house.

Words can leave a lasting impression. [Comment: Participle]

Use convincing arguments based on facts and logic. [Participle]

Don’t abuse the right to free speech by speaking alarming, derogatory, or inciting words. [Two participles and one regular adjective]

I had boiled eggs for breakfast. [Participle]

Mine is a red car. [red looks like a predicative adjective because it follows the linking verb, but it’s an attributive adjective because it is describing car and not mine]

Predicative adjectives

The economic outlook looks grim.

Martha doesn’t seem happy about her raise.

The stock market was volatile today.

These cartridges are spent. [Participle]

1.2 Noun

That’s probably the reason many business and political leaders are morning persons.

There is no night life in the town.

I’m betting on that race horse.

Iron rods that tumbled out of the truck were strewn around at the accident site.

The juice dispenser needs a refill.

The beauty contest was held despite opposition by few local organizations.

2. Examples of adjectival phrases

Adjective phrase, participial phrase, prepositional phrase, and infinitive phrase belong to this category. Whereas an adjective phrase always functions adjectivally, the other three function adjectivally sometimes.

Some think that an adjectival phrase should contain an adjective, but that’s true of only one adjectival phrase, adjective phrase. Look at the other three adjectival phrases; you may or may not find adjectives in them.

2.1 Adjective phrase

An adjective phrase is a phrase that has an adjective as its head word (or the most important word), and it functions as an adjective in a sentence. In the examples below, the head word of the adjective phrase has been highlighted in bold.

An unusually large fish pulled the bait. [Adjective large is the head word of the adjective phrase unusually large.]

The food is really good.

The fish was not large enough.

The slow and steady tortoise won the race. [Two adjectives, slow and steady, separated by a coordinating conjunction also form an adjective phrase. In such cases, there is no head adjective.]

Tom is lazy beyond belief.

The water is sufficiently warm to gargle.

That is deeply ingrained in your brain.

More about adjective phrase:

2.2 Participial phrase

Participial phrases, the phrases that start with the present participle or past participle form of verb, function mostly as an adjectival and occasionally as an adverbial. Here, we’ll look at examples of their adjectival function. Examples:

The woman playing poker is a three-time champion in this tournament.

After finishing the game, the three-time champion took a 10-minute break. [After finishing the game is a participial phrase functioning adverbially, and not adjectivally, as it answers the adverbial question when.]

We occasionally overhear accusations and counter-accusations coming from the neighbouring family.

Look around and you’ll find many flatterers indulging in insincere praise for selfish motives.

Regularly reviewing our progress against the targets and answering to the top management, the Vice President in our division was quite a busy and harried person.

The person running on the treadmill has been coming to the gym for several years.

Facing flak on social media, the hospital came up with another advertisement on Sunday.

Hiding behind the bush, the tiger waited for the antelope to come close.

Steve Jobs, credited with changing the fortune of Apple, made quite a few comebacks in his life.

2.3 Prepositional phrase

Prepositional phrases, the phrases with ‘preposition + noun’ combination, function mostly as an adverbial and occasionally as an adjectival. Here, we’ll look at examples of their adjectival function. Examples:

I saw a dog with one ear.

I saw a dog in the hallway. [in the hallway doesn’t describe dog. It answers the adverbial question where and hence is adverbial of place, and not adjectival.]

The architect recommended few paintings from Etsy.

We can’t customize our plan for customers with specific requirements.

Submitting to one wrong brings on another. [Submitting is a gerund, which always functions as a noun.]

The boy from a small town has made it to the national team.

The person behind Tom is my brother.

He is a designer in the making.

My brother, in blue shirt, works in Microsoft.

2.4 Infinitive phrase

Infinitive phrases, the phrases that start with ‘to + verb’, can function as a noun, an adjectival, or an adverbial. Here, we’ll look at examples of their adjectival function. Examples:

The cape buffalo’s audacity to fight back forced the lions to retreat.

To fight lions is not easy for any animal. [To fight lions is subject of the sentence and hence is functioning as a noun, and not an adjective.]

To fight back the lions, cape buffalo stood presented a united, aggressive front. [To fight back the lions is acting as adverbial of purpose. Unlike the adjectival, it can be moved to a different position (end).]

If you’ve too many friends, you can’t find time to build deeper bonds with most of them.

If you’ve vision to make positive change and you don’t do anything about it, you’re merely daydreaming.

He, in fact, ordered the wrong product because of his failure to read the product description carefully.

The runner’s tactic to accelerate at the right time helped him win the marathon.

If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys to work.

The company’s decision to launch the new product stemmed from sub-standard existing products.

The first attempt to sedate the leopard failed.

3. Examples of adjectival clauses

Unlike the first two, this category is simple. It contains only relative clause (also called adjective clause)

3.1 Relative clause

A relative clause always functions adjectivally. Examples:

Don’t open a topic that might hurt people around.

Parents who are afraid to put their foot down usually have children who step on their toes.

Margaret Thatcher, who was the Prime Minister of Britain, brought in several reforms.

We’re already seeing the adverse effect, which seems to intensify every year, of untold exploitation of nature.

Mac, whom I lent $5,000, has been avoiding me for obvious reason.

The author whose first three books didn’t do well came back strongly with his fourth, which hit the best-seller charts.

The police pursued the miscreants till the gas station, where they disappeared on foot.

I’ll never forget the day when I got my first pay cheque.

More about relative clause:

4. Examples of mix of adjectival words, phrases, and clauses

Each sentence that follows contains a mix of adjectivals we’ve covered so far. The type of adjectival is mentioned in comments in the same order in which it appears in the sentence. To get the most out of these examples, look at the first example and try yourself the same with other examples.

Seeking shelter from the rain, Mac ran towards the warehouse. [Participial phrase]

My fur gloves failed to protect me from the biting cold. [Noun/ Participle]

Cherish old relationships as precious possession because such relationships are hard to find. [Adjective/ Adjective/ Adjective phrase placed predicatively]

A constant guest is never welcomed. [Adjective/ Adjective phrase describes constant guest]

Being wealthy and popular, Tom is surrounded by many flatterers, who would say whatever it takes to please him. [Participial phrase/ Relative clause]

Bypassing competent professionals in his Company, the businessman appointed his less-experienced son to a senior position. [Participial phrase/ Participle/ Adjective. Besides, the participial phrase contains the adjective competent describing professionals]

Most private coaching centres for entrance exams hold not only regular tests but also elaborate doubt-clearing sessions. [Cumulative adjectives/ Prepositional phrase describes private coaching centres/ Adjective/ Cumulative adjectives. Note: Cumulative adjectives contain more than one adjective that together describe the same noun]

When the plane landed, police arrested the man who raised false alarm of a bomb on the plane. [Relative clause. Besides, the relative clause contains two adjectival prepositional phrases – of a bomb describes false alarm, and on the plane describes bomb.]

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