TOEFL IBT – Adjectives

An adjective is a word that modifies a noun. They can be divided into two categories: determiners and descriptive adjectives.


Determiners precede descriptive adjectives in a sentence. Within determiners, there are articles, demonstratives, and number words.

Articles define a noun as specific or unspecific. Definite articles are used when talking about a specific noun, whereas indefinite articles are used when talking about an unspecified noun. There are three articles in English: a, an, and the.

  • The boat is new. (the is a definite article describing boat – we know which boat)
  • I bought a new boat. (a is an indefinite article describing boat – the boat is being introduced for the first time)
  • I bought an apple. (an is an indefinite article describing apple

BE CAREFUL: An is used when a word begins with a vowel SOUND, not LETTER!

  • hour -> an hour (the h is silent)

Demonstratives show where an object or person is in relation to the speaker. English has six demonstratives: here, there, this, that, these, and those.

  • Here is the painting. (the speaker is showing us the painting that is close to us)
  • There is the painting. (the speaker is showing us the painting that is far from us)
  • This painting is extraordinary. (the painting is close to the speaker)
  • That painting is extraordinary. (the painting is far from the speaker)
  • These paintings are extraordinary. (the speaker is showing us several paintings that are close to us)
  • Those paintings are extraordinary. (the speaker is showing us several paintings that are far from us)

Number words are numbers that are used as adjectives.

  • Could I have six bagels, please?
  • I only bought three boxes of strawberries.
  • Do you think twenty-five balloons will be enough for the party?

Descriptive adjectives are all the other words that describe a property of an object.

  • He sounded scared. (scared describes the subject, “he”)
  • They heard an awful noise. (awful describes the noun “noise”)
  • The giraffes she saw were very tall. (tall describes the noun “giraffes”)

Descriptive adjectives can be turned into comparative adjectives, which make a comparison between two things.

  • This is a large pot -> This pot is larger than that one. -> This is the largest pot.
  • That is a pretty girl. -> She is a prettier girl. -> That is the prettiest girl.

If the descriptive adjective has more than two syllables OR it is a two-syllable word not ending in –y (charming), use more or most.

  • That’s a beautiful dog. -> That dog is more beautiful than the other one. -> That is the most beautiful dog I’ve ever seen.
  • That is a mischievous child. -> That is a more mischievous child than the other one. -> That is the most mischievous child I’ve ever seen.
  • Such a cunning person. -> This person is more cunning than that one. -> That is the most cunning person I’ve ever met.
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Certain adjectives are irregular in the comparative and superlative form:
















Compound adjectives should be hyphenated, except when one of the words is an adverb or when one of the adjectives is a title.

  • The library was full of 9-year-old boys. (9-year-old is an adjective)
  • I’m a part-time barista at Starbucks. (part-time is an adjective)
  • You have such an amazingly incredible idea. (amazingly is an adverb, so we know it’s modifying idea)

Finally, the order of adjectives in English is the following:

1. quantity or number

2. quality or opinion

3. size

4. age

5. shape

6. color

7. proper adjective

8. purpose or qualifier

When there are two or more adjectives from the same group, and is placed between them and, if necessary, commas.








[proper adj.]




blue and








white, and







[proper adj.]


  • If you can pair up a modifying word with a noun, then that word is an adjective!
    • that very sweet old man -> that man; sweet man; old man; very man
  • Some typical adjective endings include:
    • –able/-ible (understandable; incredible)
    • –al (functional; mathematical)
    • –ful (beautiful; harmful)
    • –ic (terrific; rustic)
    • –ive (intuitive; attractive)
    • –less (hopeless; sleeveless)
    • –ous (gorgeous; dangerous)

Pour vous aider dans votre préparation TOEFL, nous avons conçu des fiches de révisions grammaire TOEFL spécifiques à l’examen. Nous vous conseillons de consulter les fiches en anglais pour vous mettre en immersion dans la langue. Cependant pour les apprenants qui auraient plus de difficultés nous avons également conçu des fiches en français.

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