Adjectives in Business Writing
What are adjectives?
- The definition - words that modify (or describe) a noun. They can be called modifiers or words that describe.
- These modifiers can be single words or they can be a group of words.
Can the modifier be considered "compound" and what does "compound" mean?
Compound. Something that is compound is made up of more than one part.
- Yes, if you have two or more words, joined together to make another longer word then this can be called a compound modifier - made up of more than one part.
- An example would be up-to-date, as in an up-to-date listing of members of the club.
Position of the compound modifier
If the compound modifier is positioned after the noun, you don’t need the hyphens:
- Our membership list is up to date.
If the compound modifier is positioned before the noun, however, you do need the hyphens:
- Do you have an up-to-date membership list?
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Let`s get into the discussion of Adjectives
So, let’s get into the discussion -
Single Words as Modifiers -
You have to know what a noun is if you’re going to discuss words that modify the noun. A noun is the name of a person, place, or thing – John, Chicago, and desk.
An Adjective is a modifier that describes the noun. They appear in italics below:
- John is tall. OR John is a tall boy.
- Chicago is known as the windy city. We travelled to windy Chicago recently.
- My desk is a perfect size for me. My office desk is the perfect size for me.
The modifiers of the nouns above are all in italics. Each one above is a single word - not a compound modifier.
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Groups of Words as Modifiers
This modifier of a noun can also be found as groups of words called phrases. A phrase is a group of
words that generally begins with a preposition and ends with a noun or
- into the house
- above the garage
- behind the shed
The girl with the long ponytail is in my class.
- The phrase “with the long ponytail” describes the noun “girl.”
- The phrase is an adjective and is referred to as an adjectival phrase.
Note - Here the noun is converted into a modifier - “adjectival.”
A few more examples:
- The dog with the red collar belongs to our neighbour.
- The soccer ball with the hole in it had to be repaired.
- The house with the balcony is owned by the mayor.
- The phrase “with the red collar” describes the noun “dog.”
- The phrase “with the hole in it” describes the noun “ball.”
- The phrase “with the balcony” descries the noun “house.”
We can also turn those sentences around a bit and still have the accurate phrases:
- Our neighbour owns the dog with the red collar.
- We repaired the soccer ball with the hole in it.
- The mayor owns the house with the balcony.
A Copula Verb - Subject Completion
A "being" verb has no real action. When
there is a “being” verb – also called a copula verb – the word that
follows the verb describes the subject.
Often, an adjective will follow
the copula or being verb.
- John is tall.
- The verb "is" – a “being” verb
- The adjective “tall” describes the subject, "John."
These are groups of words, but they are different from phrases.
- These compound modifiers are a group of words put together to become another longer idea or longer word.
- A phrase, on the other hand, begins with a preposition and ends with a noun.
On a hot day, we want a drink.
What kind of drink?
- An ice-cold drink. Not just a cold drink. But an ice-cold drink.
two words “ice” and “cold” have been put together to make a new idea or
a new word – and they need the hyphen because they appear BEFORE the
If we move the compound modifier to the position after the noun, we don’t need the hyphen:
However, when the compound modifier is positioned before the noun, we do need the hyphens:
- I want an ice-cold drink.
A few more examples to consider:
- The better-late-than-never arrival of the guest.
- The guest’s arrival was better late than never.
- The two-storey house is being painted this week.
- The house of two storeys is being painted this week.
- The two-year-old boy is just learning to talk.
- The boy turned two years old last week.
- We are planning a three-day conference for our employees.
- We are planning a conference of three days.
In all of the above, the compound modifier requires hyphens when it appears before the noun.
In the second example in each group, the phrases have been moved to a position after the noun and do not need hyphens.
Resume effective adjectives
You might want to use some special modifiers that would be very effective in a job application. These words would have to highlight your strengths. Consider the following:
Words of this nature would be extremely effective in any job application.
- An adjective describes a noun. We can call it a modifier.
- This modifier can be a single word or a phrase.
- If the modifier is a phrase, it begins with a preposition and ends with a noun.
- The compound modifier is a number of words put together to become another new word.
- When the compound modifier appears before the noun, add the hyphens.
- When the compound modifier comes after the noun, you don’t need the hyphen.
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LINK- Return from Adjectives to Parts of Speech