Adjectives & Adverbs, Can You Tell Them Apart?

Adjectives modify nouns, pronouns, and groups of words functioning as nouns. Adjectives answer the questions What kind?, Which ones?, or How many?
Adverbs modify verbs, other adverbs and adjectives. Adverbs answer the questions How?, When?, or Where?

When analyzing a sentence, you must be able to discern exactly which word is being modified.

Note: The and a are articles. Articles are classed as adjectives.

EXAMPLE:
The well trained dog became a pleasant companion.

adj.
adverb
adj.
noun
verb
adj.
adj.
noun
The
well
trained
dog
became
a
pleasant
companion.

 

Build Up

We will strip the sentence down to a basic sentence and then we will add the modifiers back into the sentence one at a time. In building the sentence back up, we can analyze which word is being modified.

Adjectives modify nouns and pronouns.

The dog became a companion.
"A companion? What kind of dog is he? "
The trained dog became a companion.
Because trained modifies dog, which is a noun, trained is an adjective.

Adverbs modify verbs, other adverbs and adjectives.

"Trained? How so?"
The well trained dog became a companion.
Because well modifies trained, which is used as an adjective, well is an adverb.

"What kind of companion is the dog?
The well trained dog became a pleasant companion.
In this sentence, companion is a predicate noun, and in being a noun, that makes pleasant an adjective.

*Modify

A word which, by being combined in discourse with another word or expression, is made to mean something different from what it would mean if it stood alone, is said to be modified by that other word or expression. [read more about modify]

Thus, the meaning of the sentence "I dislike oranges" is changed if we insert sour, so that the sentence reads "I dislike sour oranges" ; it is changed because "sour oranges" means something different from "oranges."

LIkewise "many men" and "few men" mean something different from "men"; "many" and "few" modify "men."

"Call softly" means something different from "call" ; "softly" modifies "call."

*Definition from College Handbook of Composition, by Wolley and Scott, revised 1931

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