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Changing Sentence Structure: Making Strong Adjectives Weak

strong adjectives

Adjectives are important, but not all adjectives are created equal. So here is how to eradicate weak words from your writing.

Some fundamental components of the English language are “doing” words and “naming” words. Adjectives, however, are a little harder to pin down. An adjective describes the nature of a noun. This means their use in writing is vital, as they eliminate ambiguity by giving a clear image of the subject matter.

To understand the importance of adjectives, look at where the word itself is derived from. “Adjective” originates from a Latin phrase that means “additional noun;” while it may not stand on its own, as a name does, an adjective is crucial in shaping how readers think about the subjects of our sentences. However, be careful not all adjectives are created equal! Many used in everyday speech may be considered weak. If you want to learn more about spotting weak adjectives, keep reading.

What are weak adjectives?

Ineffective describing words are often referred to as being gradable; meaning ineffective. “The weather was okay.” However, using these words will differ depending on the characters in the book. As an example, when characters have a conversation and the writer needs to express someone’s personality or mood, saying the weather was okay might fit the bill to provide full context of the situation but could be enhanced with proper adjective usage.

By using gradable as an adjective, we obviously get a vague idea of what this sentence is trying to convey. All we know is the weather was not bad. Other than that, we know nothing. In this situation, the following conversation will tell the whole story. If this sentence is not followed up by some very effective wording, this would be an F for adjective usage.


Any time words such as, ‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘happy’, ‘sad’ there is ambiguity. While it’s okay to precede with ‘very’, it doesn’t make weak adjectives any stronger. One certain way to turn off the readers is being too simple. But, more often than not, writing benefits from the precision of strong adjectives. It will not only make your work livelier, but it will also develop a stronger storyline, allowing the characters to grow in their perspective roles. 


Using a Thesaurus

The ability to rid your work with generic adjectives is not difficult, it just takes some practice. An initial step is learning to edit your work. Then, download or use a quality thesaurus. It is an excellent tool to expand your vocabulary. However, that does not mean going overboard with the fancy words, stick to what’s real. Let the character’s personality dictate word usage.

A basic rule of thumb is to avoid the enhancement of your adjectives. As an example, using very before terrific is not a very good idea. Hence, “the weather was terrific.” Long drawn-out sentences defeat the purpose, shorten them with more effective wording.

 If you are still at a loss, invest in a grammar checker, like Grammarly, ProWritingAid, or Outwrite. The ability to recognize some other choices on wording will help you overcome these bad habits.

Adjectives describe qualities that can exist in numerous meanings or degrees. Therefore, the adjective must either change form (usually by adding -er or -est) or by using words including more, most, very, slightly, etc. — “the longest day of the year.”  There are four demonstrative adjectives —this, that, these, and those— which are identical to the demonstrative pronouns.

The adjective is used to distinguish the person or thing being described. As an example, ‘this’ and ‘these’ describe people or things nearby, or in the present. Or, ‘that’ and ‘those’ are used to describe people or things that are not here, not nearby, or in the past or future. These adjectives, like the definite and indefinite articles (a, an, and the), always come before any other adjectives that modify a noun.

An indefinite adjective describes a whole group, class of people, things, a person, or thing not identified or familiar. The most common indefinite adjectives are all, another, any, both, each, either, enough, every, few, half, least, less, little, many, more, most, much, neither, one (and two, three, etc.), other, several, some, such, whole.

The interrogative adjectives are primarily ‘which’, ‘what’, and ‘whose.’ The best usage is to begin questions. They can also be used as interrogative pronouns.

  • Which horse did you bet on? = Which did you bet on?
  • What songs did they sing? = What did they sing?
  • Whose coat is this? = Whose is this?

The possessive adjectives include ‘my, your, his, her, its, our, their.’ The usage includes telling you who has, owns, or has experienced something, as in “I admired her candor, “Our dog is sixteen years old,” and “They said their trip was wonderful.” In some cases, nouns often function as adjectives. called attributive nouns.

The next lesson explains; when two or more adjectives are used before a noun, they should be put in proper order. Any article (a, an, the), demonstrative adjective (that, these, etc.), indefinite adjective (another, both, etc.), or possessive adjective (her, our, etc.) always comes first.

If there is a number, it comes first or second. True adjectives always come before attributive nouns. The ordering of true adjectives will vary, but the following order is the most common: opinion word→size→age→shape→color→nationality→material.

Participles are commonly used as an ordinary adjective. In this situation, they come before a noun or link the verb. A present participle (an -ing word) describes the person or thing that causes something; for example, a boring conversation is one that bores you. A past participle (usually an -ed word) describes the person or thing affected by something; for example, a bored person is one affected by boredom.

  • The instructions were confusing.
  • She’s excited about the trip to Texas.
  • Several confused students were asking questions about the test.
  • The lake was cold.

Adjective in a Sentence Examples


  • Red: ‘the red apple’
  • Shallow: ‘the pool is shallow’
  • Tired: “I’m very tired”

Either way, learning to adjust wording according to context will make any writing more readable. In essence, that is essential to keep readers interested. The best method; keep them yearning for more, even after the book is over.

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