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Adjective Phrases: Your Complete Guide to Understanding and Using Them in English Grammar

Comprehensive Definition, Description, Examples & Rules 

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What is an adjective phrase - meaning and definition

Adjective phrases, also known as adjectival phrases, are clusters of words in a sentence that serve as adjectives. They change or characterise a word or pronoun by adding information about its features or properties. Adjective phrases may be made up of one or more words, which can include adjectives, adverbs, and other components like prepositions and articles.

Adjective phrases are often employed in English grammar to clarify a sentence’s meaning and give complexity to the language. Depending on the context and the writer’s discretion, they might be put before or after the word they modify.

Examples of adjective phrase use:

  • Sentence 1: The girl with the green eyes
  • Adjective Phrase: with the green eyes
  • Modifying Noun: girl

  • Sentence 2: The satisfying smell of fresh-baked food
  • Adjective Phrase: of fresh-baked food
  • Modifying Noun: smell

  • Sentence 3: A journal by the renowned writer
  • Adjective Phrase: by the renowned writer
  • Modifying Noun: journal

When describing a person, place, object, or concept, you may employ a collection of adjectives, or an adjectival phrase. 

Attributive adjectives are prepositional phrases that modify the noun they come before. Adjectival Phrases examples are “red apples” and “tall buildings.” Alternatively, a predicative adjective follows the verb and describes the noun it describes, as in “The apple is red” or “The building is tall.”

How is an adjective phrase different from an adjective clause?

There are major distinctions between adjective phrases and adjective clauses, even though both functions to modify a noun or pronoun in a sentence.

As we’ve established, an adjective phrase is an adjective group that acts as an adjective in a sentence by describing a noun or pronoun. The noun they describe might come either before or after the adjective phrase.

Adjective clauses, on the other hand, are word combinations that serve as adjectives in a sentence and often include a subject and a verb. Adjective clauses, in contrast to adjective phrases, are usually preceded by a relative pronoun or adverb, such as “who,” “whom,” “whose,” “that,” or “which.”

Different from adjective phrases, adjective clauses may appear anywhere in a sentence. Adjective clauses, unlike adjective phrases, are often positioned after the noun they modify and contribute significantly to the meaning of the sentence.

Examples of an adjective phrase are “the man with the blue eyes,” whereas an adjective clause may read, “The man who has blue eyes is my neighbour.”

Types of adjective phrases:

Adjective phrases are a crucial aspect of English grammar because they provide more context for and detail about a sentence’s nouns and pronouns. On the basis of their organisation and arrangement, they can be divided into various classes.

What is a Single adjective phrase?

When just one adjective is used to describe a noun or pronoun, the phrase is called a single adjective phrase. Not a single additional word or phrase is included.

Examples of Adjective phrases:

  • The green leaf
  • Adjective: green
  • Modified Noun: leaf

  • The black shoe
  • Adjective: black
  • Modified Noun: shoe

  • The sad boy
  • Adjective: sad
  • Modified Noun: boy

What is an Adjective phrase with prepositional phrase

It’s possible to modify a noun or pronoun using a phrase consisting of an adjective and a prepositional phrase, which is called a “phrase with a prepositional adjective.”

The following are some of adjectival phrases examples that also include a preposition:

  • The girl with long arms
  • Adjective Phrase: with long arms
  • Modified Noun: girl

  • The bottle on the table
  • Adjective Phrase: on the table
  • Modified Noun: bottle

  • The bag with the grey tag
  • Adjective Phrase: with the grey tag
  • Modified Noun: bag

What is Adjective Phrases with Participial Phrases

An adjectival phrase that includes both an adjective and a participial phrase to modify a noun or pronoun is called a participial adjective phrase.

Here are some participial phrase adjective examples:

  • The broken plank
  • Adjective Phrase: broken
  • Participial Phrase: being broken
  • Modified Noun: plank

  • The dancing boy
  • Adjective Phrase: dancing
  • Participial Phrase: was dancing
  • Modified Noun: boy

  • The walking girl
  • Adjective Phrase: walking
  • Participial Phrase: was walking
  • Modified Noun: girl

What is Adjective Phrases with Infinitive Phrases

One kind of adjectival phrase, an adjective phrase with an infinitive phrase modifies a noun or pronoun by combining an adjective with an infinitive phrase.


  • The view to see
  • Adjective: to see
  • Modified Noun: view

  • The bus to travel
  • Adjective: to travel
  • Modified Noun: bus

  • The boy to go out with
  • Adjective: to go out with
  • Modified Noun: boy

What is Absolute Adjective Phrases

Adjective phrases that modify the whole sentence rather than a single noun or pronoun are called “absolute adjective phrases.” These phrases often include a noun or pronoun plus a participle.


  • Her knees red with bruises, she walked out of the house.
  • Absolute Phrase which modified entire sentence: Her knees red with bruises

  • The climate being humid, we thought of staying in the house.
  • Absolute Phrase which modified entire sentence: The climate being humid

  • The moon being visible, we switched on the lamps.
  • Absolute Phrase which modified entire sentence: The moon being visible

What is Adjectival phrase

A sentence’s subject or object may also be an adjectival phrase, which is a special kind of adjectival phrase made up of an adjective and the thing it modifies.


  • The man who is sharp
  • Adjectival Phrase: who is sharp
  • Modified Noun: man

  • The house where we were young
  • Adjectival Phrase: where we were young
  • Modified Noun: house

  • The place that she suggested
  • Adjectival Phrase: that she suggested
  • Modified Noun: place

You must know:

Adjectives are a crucial aspect of the English language because they provide additional information about a noun or pronoun. They function as well as predicates or attributes. A predicative adjective specifies the object of the verb’s action, whereas an attributive adjective describes the noun that comes before it.

In the statement “The red car is fast,” the adjective “red” modifies the noun “car,” but in the sentence “The car is red,” the adjective “red” describes the subject “car.”

Some adjectives, depending on their context in a phrase, may serve as either attributive or predicative adjectives. In the phrase “The happy children played outside,” the word “happy” functions as an attributive adjective, but in the statement “The children were happy,” it functions as a predicative adjective.

When writing or speaking, it might be helpful to know the distinction between attributive and predicative adjectives. Descriptive writing makes more use of attributive adjectives, whereas narrative writing makes greater use of predicative adjectives.

Adjective phrase examples:

  1. “The red automobile drove past” is a single adjective phrase. The adjective term “red” defines the automobile and contains no further words.

  2. “The cat on the table is sleeping” is a prepositional phrase with adjective phrase The prepositional phrase “on the table” elucidates which cat is napping.

  3. “The girl went past, holding a basket of flowers” is a Adjective Phrase with Participial Phrase The participial phrase “carrying a basket of flowers” characterises the girl and adds to the sentence’s detail.

  4. “She was keen to learn Spanish” is a Adjective Phrase with Infinitive Phrase The infinitive phrase “to learn Spanish” expresses her passion and desire.

  5. “She closed her eyes and took a big breath” is a Absolute Adjective Phrase “Closed her eyes“ is an absolute adjective phrase that provides extra information and description to the statement.

Rules for adjective phrases:

Adjective phrases may be created in a variety of ways and must adhere to specific standards in order to produce grammatically valid sentences. Here are some key guidelines to remember while utilising adjective phrases:

Adjective phrase with multiple adjectives

When describing a noun with numerous adjectives, the determiner adjective should appear first, followed by subsequent adjectives depending on size, colour, form, and so on. For instance, “the tall, dark, and handsome man.” In this case, “tall” is the determining adjective, with “dark” and “handsome” being the other adjectives.


  • The red apple, tiny and spherical.
  • The sandy, lengthy, twisting road.
  • Persian cat, fluffy and white.

Adjective phrases with compound adjectives

Adjective phrases may be made up of compound adjectives or compound adjectives plus additional adjectives. The “famous actress” or “the slow-moving bus,” for instance. 


  • The woman with green eyes and glossy hair.
  • The antique silver-plated vase.
  • The little youngster with the quick wit and intelligence.

Adjective expressions using comparative and superlative

Adjective phrases may be formed by adding “er” and “est” suffixes to comparative and superlative degrees. 


  • The automobile that is the fastest on the road.
  • The city’s tallest structure.
  • The class’s brightest student.

Adjective phrases using prepositions/prepositional phrases

Adjective phrases may be formed by inserting the adjective after the preposition or as part of a prepositional phrase. “The girl in the green trouser,” for example, or “the vase on the second table.”


  • The young lady in the blue gown.
  • The creamy icing on the cake.
  • The white picket-fence home on the hill.

Adjective phrases containing adverbs

Adverbs may be used in adjective phrases to indicate how something is done. The adverb is normally placed after the adjective it modifies.


  • The artist created a really detailed artwork on the wall.
  • The squad competed fiercely in basketball.
  • She whispered gently to soothe her toddler.

Punctuation rules while using adjective phrase in a sentence

Use a comma after an adjective phrase when it appears at the beginning of a sentence.

When an adjective phrase comes at the beginning of a sentence, it is crucial to divide it from the body of the sentence with a comma. This helps to explain the meaning of the statement and avoids any uncertainty for the reader. 

Here’s an example:

“Exhausted from the long journey, she collapsed onto the bed.” The adjective phrase “exhausted from the long journey” in this sentence characterises the subject “she.” By using a comma after the adjective phrase, we signal that it is distinct from the remainder of the sentence. Without the comma, the statement might be interpreted differently, which could confuse the reader.

Make sure to enclose an adjective phrase within commas if it appears in the middle of a sentence.

Commas should surround an adjective phrase that occurs in the midst of a sentence. It helps to set out the phrase from the remainder of the sentence in this way. Here’s a case in point:

The vehicle, painted shining red and yellow, stayed outside in the parking area. 

Here, “painted shining red and yellow” functions as an adjective phrase describing the noun “vehicle.” The commas around it indicate that it comes in the midst of the sentence. The commas prevent the reader from supposing that the red and yellow vehicles in the parking lot are two separate vehicles.

The statement is simpler to grasp when the adjective phrase is enclosed in commas. This criterion applies to all sorts of adjective phrases, whether they include a single or numerous adjectives.

No punctuation mark is necessary when an adjective phrase is located at the end of a sentence.

No punctuation mark is required after an adjective phrase at the conclusion of a sentence. Consider the phrase, “The gown was an exquisite shade of purple.”  That dress is “an exquisite shade of purple.” is an adjective phrase describing the noun “gown.” There should be no comma or other punctuation after this phrase since it comes at the conclusion of the sentence.

The phrase “a long day at work” functions as an adjective in the sentence “I felt exhausted after a long day at duty,” since it follows the noun “day” at the conclusion of the sentence without a period.

It’s worth noting that, for emphasis or clarity, a comma might sometimes be placed before an adjective phrase at the conclusion of a sentence. For instance, “He was a very smart, very thoughtful, and caring man.” The comma before the word “and caring” highlights the fact that this is an extra admirable quality of the individual being described. However, no punctuation is required after the adjective phrase if it only expands on the original meaning of the sentence.

adjective phrase infographics

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Key Takeaways

  1. Adjective phrases are groups of words that function as adjectives in a sentence, providing additional information about nouns or pronouns.

  2. They can be formed by combining an adjective with other words, such as adverbs or prepositional phrases.

  3. Adjective phrases can appear before or after the noun they modify and are separated from the noun by commas if they come after it.

  4. They add descriptive details, enhancing the clarity and vividness of your writing.

  5. Adjective phrases can be used to compare or differentiate between multiple nouns, indicating degrees of quality or quantity.

  6. They can also serve as complements to linking verbs, providing more information about the subject.

  7. It’s important to ensure that adjective phrases agree with the nouns they modify in terms of number, gender, and case.

  8. Be cautious about using excessive or redundant adjective phrases, as they can make your writing wordy or repetitive.


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Frequently Asked Questions

What is an adjective phrase in English grammar?

Adjective phrases consist of many words that act as one adjective to describe a noun or pronoun.

How do I identify an adjective phrase in a sentence?

Adjective phrases are groups of words that precede or follow a noun or pronoun in a sentence and act as a descriptive adjective.

Where do adverbs and adjectives phrases vary from one another?

An adverbial phrase modifies a verb, adjective, or adverb, whereas an adjective phrase modifies a noun or pronoun.

How do I use adjective phrases in my writing?

Adjective phrases are a great way to spice up your writing and keep the attention of your readers by providing vivid imagery.

Can an adjective phrase modify a verb?

Adjective phrases can only modify nouns or pronouns, hence no verbs may serve as their modifiers.

What are some examples of adjective phrases in sentences?

Some common examples of adjective phrases in use include “the red car,” “the tall building,” and “the happy children.”

Can an adjective phrase stand alone as a sentence?

Because it lacks the essential elements of a full sentence, an adjective phrase cannot function on its own.

How many words can an adjective phrase have?

Depending on how many adjectives are used to describe the noun or pronoun, an adjective phrase may include any number of words.

What are some common prepositions used in adjective phrases?

Adjectives often incorporate a preposition, such as “of,” “in,” “on,” or “with.”

How do I form an adjective phrase with a participle?

Adjective phrases may be formed by combining a present or past participle with a noun or pronoun. Examples include “the running man” as well as “the damaged vase.”

How do I form an adjective phrase with an infinitive?

You may use an infinitive with a noun or a pronoun to create a phrase that functions as an adjective. Words like “going for it” and “having the drive to succeed”.

What is an absolute adjective phrase?

A noun or pronoun with a participle or infinitive form what is called an absolute adjective phrase. It’s there to flesh out what the sentence’s main topic already knows.

Can an adjective phrase come after a noun?

Although it is possible to place an adjective phrase after the noun it describes, this is not the norm.

How do I use commas with adjective phrases?

When an adjective phrase comes at the beginning or the middle of a sentence, it should be set off by commas. When used as a sentence terminator, no punctuation is required.

Can an adjective phrase be used as a subject or object in a sentence?

Since its purpose is to describe a noun or pronoun, an adjective phrase cannot serve in those roles in a sentence.

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