Attributive and Predicative Adjectives

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Most adjectives can occur both before and after a noun: 
the blue sea ~ the sea is blue
the old man ~ the man is old
happy children ~ the children are happy

Adjectives in the first position - before the noun - are called ATTRIBUTIVE adjectives. Those in the second position - after the noun - are called PREDICATIVE adjectives. Notice that predicative adjectives do not occur immediately after the noun. Instead, they follow a verb.  

Sometimes an adjective does occur immediately after a noun, especially in certain institutionalised expressions: 

      the Governor General  
      the Princess Royal  
      times past 
We refer to these as POSTPOSITIVE adjectives. Postposition is obligatory when the adjective modifies a pronoun: 
      something useful  
      everyone present  
      those responsible 
Postpositive adjectives are commonly found together with superlative, attributive adjectives: 
      the shortest route possible  
      the worst conditions imaginable  
      the best hotel available 

Most adjectives can freely occur in both the attributive and the predicative positions. However, a small number of adjectives are restricted to one position only. For example, the adjective main (the main reason) can only occur in the attributive position (predicative: *the reason is main). Conversely, the adjective afraid (the child was afraid) can only occur predicatively (attributive: *an afraid child).  
Assign the highlighted adjectives in each of the following examples to one of the three positions. 

1. The green door opened slowly. Attributive 
2. This stretch of water is dangerous Attributive 
3. The share-holders present voted against the Chairman.  Attributive 
4. Jan feels ill Attributive 
5. A larger than normal pay increase was awarded to the nurses.  Attributive 

More on Adjectives...


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