What is an adjective?
Adjectives are words that modify (change) nouns, pronouns and other adjectives. In the sentence “he was fast,” the word “fast” is an adjective that describes the pronoun “he.” Here’s a special sentence that uses all the letters of the English language:
“The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.”
In this sentence, the words “quick,” “brown” and “lazy” are adjectives (and so is the word “the,” but we’ll explain this later!). All these words are describing or somehow modifying a noun.
So, you might already know about adjectives like these, like “quick,” “beautiful” and “ugly,” which are used to describe people, places and things.
But did you know that adjectives have many other uses? Words like “every,” “the” and “my” are also adjectives. When you say “my cat,” the word “my” is modifying the word “cat.” It’s describing that cat as your possession, or something that belongs to you. Likewise for the word “every” in the phrase “every cat.”
Types of Adjectives
Remember that adjectives can modify as well as describe other words, and you’ll find it much easier to identify different types of adjectives when you see them.
There are only three articles, and all of them are adjectives: a, an, and the. Because they are used to discuss non-specific things and people, a and an are called indefinite articles. For example:
- I’d like a
- Let’s go on an
Neither one of these sentences names a specific banana or a certain adventure. Without more clarification, any banana or adventure will do.
The word the is called the definite article. It’s the only definite article, and it is used to indicate very specific people or things:
- Please give me a banana. I’d like the one with the green stem.
- Let’s go on an adventure. The Grand Canyon mule ride sounds perfect!
As the name indicates, possessive adjectives are used to indicate possession. They are:
Possessive adjectives also function as possessive pronouns.
Like the article the, demonstrative adjectives are used to indicate or demonstrate specific people, animals, or things. These, those, this and that are demonstrative adjectives.
- These books belong on that
- This movie is my favorite.
- Please put those cookies on the blue plate.
Coordinate adjectives are separated with commas or the word and, and appear one after another to modify the same noun. The adjectives in the phrase bright, sunny day and long and dark night are coordinate adjectives. In phrases with more than two coordinate adjectives, the word and always appears before the last one; for example: The sign had big, bold, and bright letters.
Be careful, because some adjectives that appear in a series are not coordinate. In the phrase green delivery truck, the words green and delivery are not separated by a comma because green modifies the phrase delivery truck. To eliminate confusion when determining whether a pair or group of adjectives is coordinate, just insert the word and between them. If and works, then the adjectives are coordinate and need to be separated with a comma.
When they’re used in sentences, numbers are almost always adjectives. You can tell that a number is an adjective when it answers the question “How many?”
- The stagecoach was pulled by a team of six
- He ate 23 hotdogs during the contest, and was sick afterwards.
There are three interrogative adjectives: which, what, and whose. Like all other types of adjectives, interrogative adjectives modify nouns. As you probably know, all three of these words are used to ask questions.
- Which option sounds best to you?
- What time should we go?
- Whose socks are those?
Like the articles a and an, indefinite adjectives are used to discuss non-specific things. You might recognize them, since they’re formed from indefinite pronouns. The most common indefinite adjectives are any, many, no, several, and few.
- Do we have any peanut butter?
- Grandfather has been retired for many
- There are no bananas in the fruit bowl.
- I usually read the first few pages of a book before I buy it.
- We looked at several cars before deciding on the best one for our family.
Attributive adjectives talk about specific traits, qualities, or features – in other words, they are used to discuss attributes. There are different kinds of attributive adjectives:
- Observation adjectives such as real, perfect, best, interesting, beautiful or cheapest can indicate value or talk about subjective measures.
- Size and shape adjectives talk about measurable, objective qualities including specific physical properties. Some examples include small, large, square, round, poor, wealthy, slow and
- Age adjectives denote specific ages in numbers, as well as general ages. Examples are old, young, new, five-year-old, and
- Color adjectives are exactly what they sound like – they’re adjectives that indicate color. Examples include pink, yellow, blue, and
- Origin adjectives indicate the source of the noun, whether it’s a person, place, animal or thing. Examples include American, Canadian, Mexican, French.
- Material adjectives denote what something is made of. Some examples include cotton, gold, wool, and
- Qualifier adjectives are often regarded as part of a noun. They make nouns more specific; examples include log cabin, luxury car, and pillow cover.
Typical adjective endings
Some adjectives can be identified by their endings. Typical adjective endings include:
- -able/-ible understandable, capable, readable, incredible
- -al mathematical, functional, influential, chemical
- -ful beautiful, bashful, helpful, harmful
- -ic artistic, manic, rustic, terrific
- -ive submissive, intuitive, inventive, attractive
- -less sleeveless, hopeless, groundless, restless
- -ous gorgeous, dangerous, adventurous, fabulous
Sometimes when adding these endings changes have to be made. Here are some rules for forming adjectives and their exceptions:
|-al||If ending with an ‘e‘, drop it||Nature
|-y||If ending with an ‘e‘, drop it||Ice
|-ful||If ending with a ‘y‘, replace with an ‘i‘||Beauty
|-ous/-ious||If ending with a ‘y‘, drop it||Mystery
|-ic||If ending with a ‘y‘, drop it||History
Forming adjectives from nouns and verbs
Adjectives can be formed from different words. They can be formed from nouns:
Or even from other adjectives:
Examples of forming adjectives
- Our house color is a kind of yellow. → We live in a yellowish house.
- He often acts like a child. → He often acts in a childish way.
- The event was a big success. → We enjoyed a successful event.
- We enjoyed the sound of the drum’s rhythm. → We enjoyed the drum’s rhythmic sound.
- She adopted a dog without a home. → She adopted a homeless dog.
- Look out, that plant is poison. → Look out for that poisonous plant.
- It looks like it will rain today. → It looks like we’ll have rainy weather today.
- She always acts with courtesy. → She always behaves in a courteous manner.
- Her hair is pretty. → She has the prettiest hair.
- We go for a walk each day. → We go for a daily walk.
The 3 Different Degrees of Adjectives
Imagine changing the temperature on your air conditioner. The air conditioner has different degrees of temperature you can select. Adjectives have different degrees, as well.
The three degrees of an adjective are positive, comparative and superlative. When you use them depends on how many things you’re talking about:
- A positive adjective is a normal adjective that’s used to describe, not compare. For example: “This is good soup” and “I am funny.”
- A comparative adjective is an adjective that’s used to compare two things (and is often followed by the word than). For example: “This soup is better than that salad” or “I am funnier than her.”
- A superlative adjective is an adjective that’s used to compare three or more things, or to state that something is the most. For example: “This is the best soup in the whole world” or “I am the funniest out of all the other bloggers.”
These three degrees only work for descriptive adjectives.
If a descriptive adjective has one or two syllables, you can turn it into its comparative and superlative forms by adding -er and -est. For example, you can say that a song is loud, louder (than another song) or the loudest(out of all the other songs).
Descriptive adjectives with three or more syllables don’t use the -er and -est endings. The word beautiful, for example, can’t be turned into beautifuler or beautifulest—those aren’t words! Instead, you add the words more and the most before it to turn it into a comparative or superlative adjective: Beautiful, more beautiful, the most beautiful.
Comparative adjectives are used to compare differences between the two objects they modify (larger, smaller, faster, higher). They are used in sentences where two nouns are compared, in this pattern:
Noun (subject) + verb + comparative adjective + than + noun (object).
The second item of comparison can be omitted if it is clear from the context (final example below).
- My house is larger than hers.
- This box is smaller than the one I lost.
- Your dog runs faster than Jim’s dog.
- The rock flew higher than the roof.
- Jim and Jack are both my friends, but I like Jack better. (“than Jim” is understood)
Superlative adjectives are used to describe an object which is at the upper or lower limit of a quality (the tallest, the smallest, the fastest, the highest). They are used in sentences where a subject is compared to a group of objects.
Noun (subject) + verb + the + superlative adjective + noun (object).
The group that is being compared with can be omitted if it is clear from the context (final example below).
- My house is the largest one in our neighborhood.
- This is the smallest box I’ve ever seen.
- Your dog ran the fastest of any dog in the race.
- We all threw our rocks at the same time. My rock flew the highest. (“of all the rocks” is understood)
Formaing regular Comparatives & Superlatives
Forming comparatives and superlatives is easy. The form depends on the number of syllables in the original adjective.
One Syllable Adjectives
Add -er for the comparative and -est for the superlative. If the adjective has a consonant + single vowel + consonant spelling, the final consonant must be doubled before adding the ending.
Adjectives with two syllables can form the comparative either by adding -er or by preceeding the adjective with more. These adjectives form the superlative either by adding -est or by preceeding the adjective with most. In many cases, both forms are used, although one usage will be more common than the other. If you are not sure whether a two-syllable adjective can take a comparative or superlative ending, play it safe and use moreand most instead. For adjectives ending in y, change the y to an i before adding the ending.
|tilted||more tilted||most tilted|
|tangled||more tangled||most tangled|
Three or More Syllables
Adjectives with three or more syllables form the comparative by putting more in front of the adjective, and the superlative by putting most in front.
|important||more important||most important|
|expensive||more expensive||most expensive|
Irregular Comparatives & Superlatives
These very common adjectives have completely irregular comparative and superlative forms.
|far||further / farther||furthest / farthest|
- Today is the worst day I’ve had in a long time.
- You play tennis better than I do.
- This is the least expensive sweater in the store.
- This sweater is less expensive than that one.
- I ran pretty far yesterday, but I ran even farther today.
Qualitative & Quantitative Adjectives
Adjectives are those words which describe nouns or pronouns. Qualitative and Quantitative Adjectives are two among seven types of Adjectives.
The names Qualitative and Quantitative themselves gives us idea of the nature of these Adjectives. They are opposite to each other i.e. antonyms. We can differentiate them easily. Qualitative Adjectives deal with characteristics of people or objects and Quantitative Adjectives deal with non-numeric measurement.
Qualitative Adjectives are those Adjectives which can describe quality of living beings or non-living things. Qualitative Adjectives answer the question, what kind? Qualitative Adjectives are gradable which means they can form degrees.
We cannot count Qualitative Adjectives. Qualitative Adjectives are mostly abstract and perceived through our senses. Compared to Quantitative Adjectives there are many Qualitative Adjectives.
Examples of Qualitative Adjectives
Boring, Interesting, scary, funny, dark, fair, silky, long, neutral, red, green, black, purple, yellow, damp, feathery, rough, foul, hairy, furry, clean, dirty, sweet, sugary, sour, groan, thud, roar, tall, short, thin, fat, bulky, plump, round, glassy, sad, devastated, pathetic, amazing
The uses of Qualitative Adjectives in sentences are as follows:
- My sister is a beautiful girl.
- There are boring people in my classroom.
- The pickle is so sour.
- The tiger roars in the forest.
- Can you stop doing rough work now?
- This new novel is very interesting.
- The color of their dress is brown and white.
- You look hungry. Haven’t you eaten anything since morning?
- The injured dog on the road looked pitiful.
- Why are you carrying a dirty bag when you have a clean one at home?
- I am such a lucky man to have an amazing woman like her as my wife.
- The chair in my room is of brown color.
The Qualitative Adjectives used above in the sentences and questions evaluate or give opinions about subjects or their actions instead of plainly describing what can be seen through our eyes. Qualitative Adjectives are all those Adjectives which describe our opinions, types of taste, smell, sounds and textures of different types of touch.
|Beautiful||More Beautiful||Most Beautiful|
|Honest||More honest||Most honest|
Quantitative Adjectives are those Adjectives which describe the measurement i.e. count or amount of any living beings or non-living things are called Quantitative Adjectives. However, the measurement is not in exact numbers.
Quantitative Adjectives answer the questions, how much or how many?
To some extent we can count or weigh Quantitative Adjectives. Quantitative Adjectives are mostly concrete.
Examples of Quantitative Adjectives
Some, few, little, most, all, no, enough, any, whole, sufficient, none
The uses of Quantitative Adjectives in sentences are as follows:
- I drank half of my mango drink.
- I ate some roasted chicken.
- He has many cherries in his large pocket.
- Linda ate whole burger.
- These ignorant people have no common sense.
- I can see enough juice in the jug for the breakfast.
- Little knowledge is dangerous.
- I did not give him any chocolates from my bag.
- I gave him sufficient money for the picnic and shopping.
- None of the students has done homework today.
- Most people these days are selfish in this world.
- Few actresses are down to the earth.
Unlike, Qualitative Adjectives Quantitative Adjectives do not judge subjects or their actions. They simply state the information which our eyes can perceive or state the number or amount of living beings/things.
Adjectives are those words which describe nouns or pronouns. Interrogative Adjectives are one among the seven types of Adjectives. Interrogative Adjectives are words which qualify or modify nouns and indicate questions. Interrogative Adjectives help to seek answers to queries of people.
Unlike other Adjectives, there are only few interrogative Adjectives. They are as follows:
Now, let us understand Interrogative Adjectives more clearly with help of examples:
|What||used to ask questions about animals and non-living things.
We use it to get some specific answer.
|Whose||used to ask questions about people||
|How||used to ask questions to know the manner of how actions take place||
|Where||used to ask questions about place.||
|Why||used to ask reason behind occurrence of actions||
- Interrogative Adjectives and Interrogative Pronouns have almost same set of words so we should understand their use properly. Both are similar but unlike Interrogative Pronouns Interrogative Adjectives cannot stand independently.Interrogative Adjectives are used to support nouns/pronouns whereas Interrogative Pronouns are used to replace nouns.We can differentiate between Interrogative Adjectives and Interrogative Pronouns by seeing what follows them. Interrogative Adjectives are followed by nouns while verbs are seen to be following Interrogative Pronouns.For Example
What are you cleaning? (used as Interrogative Pronoun, followed by verb)
What thing are you cleaning? (used as Interrogative Adjective, followed by noun)
- Two Interrogative Adjectives What and Which are very similar. However, there is a difference. What is used when we are not aware of the available options whereas Which is used when we have options available to select from.For example
What movie did you go to see? (We don’t know the options)
Which movie did you watch – Terminator or Snow White?
Adjectives are those words which describe nouns or pronouns. Numeral Adjectives also known as Adjectives of numbers are one among seven types of Adjectives. Numeral Adjectives are those adjectives which are used to denote the number of nouns or the order in which they stand. They are also commonly called Adjectives of Number.
Examples of Numeral Adjective and Their Usage
One, two, five, ten, first, second, third, tenth, twelfth, last, all, some, few, each, most, many, no, several are common examples of numeral adjectives.
Read the given paragraph and understand the use of Numeral Adjectives.
We sold many mangoes today. Each mango was priced 50 cents. I along with my few friends collected mangoes from orchard and put them into three baskets. Then, we carried the baskets to the market. There we waited one hour for the customers. After customers arrived two of my friends started praising mangoes. Hearing the praises of mangoes customers started buying. All of us were happy at the end of the day.
Many, each, few, three, one, two, and all are numeral adjectives in the above given paragraphs. Therefore we can deduce that Numeral Adjectives deal with numbers of nouns and give readers/listeners clear idea of the nouns.
Numeral Adjectives can be divided into three types. They are:
- Definite Numeral Adjective
- Indefinite Numeral Adjective
- Distributive Numeral Adjective
Definite Numeral Adjectives
Definite Numeral Adjectives are the set of cardinal and ordinal numbers. The word definite itself tells us that these adjectives tell us the exact number of people or things. Definite Numeral Adjectives are:
|Cardinal numbers||Ordinal numbers|
- Michelle is the second girl in our class
- There are eight oranges in the bowl.
- He is going two sell his two cars.
Indefinite Numeral Adjective
Few, all, no, several, some, many, most
- There are few bottles of wine in the fridge.
- He has sold all the books.
- Several men came looking for you.
Indefinite Numerals can also be used as Adjectives of Quantity as both have same set of words.
Distributive Numeral Adjective
Distributive Numeral Adjectives are same as Distributive Adjectives. Distributive Numeral Adjectives denote singular number of noun among many. Distributive Numeral Adjectives are always followed by a singular noun and a verb.
Distributive Numeral Adjectives are:
Each, every, either, neither
- Everything he said is true.
- Each student is responsible for littering classroom.
- Either of the ways is correct.
Be careful, If there is the word ‘of’ immediately after the distributive numeral adjective like in the above sentence, we have to use plural noun instead.
Distributive Numeral Adjective can also be used as Distributive Adjectives as they both have same set of words.
Confusion with Quantitative Adjectives
The same word can be used as a quantitative adjective or a numeral adjective based on whether the object following the adjective is countable or not.
|Adjectives of Quantity||Adjectives of Number|
|He did not drink any milk.||He did not eat any chocolates.|
|I drank some milk.||Some students in this class are very hardworking.|
Adjectives are those words which describe nouns or pronouns. Possessive Adjectives are one among seven types of Adjectives.
Examples of Possessive Adjectives
All the Possessive Adjectives for different forms of subjects are given below with examples.
|My||I||First Person||both male and female||Singular||
|Our||we||First Person||both male and female||Plural||
|Your(Singular)||you||Second Person||both male and female||Singular||
|you||Second Person||both male and female||Plural||
|His||he||Third Person||only male||Singular||
|Her||she||Third Person||only female||Singular||
|Its||it||Third Person||animals and non-living things(neuter)||Singular||
|Their||they||Third Person||male, female and neuter||Plural||
|Whose||who||Third Person||both male and female||Plural||
- Possessive forms of Subjects like ‘it’ is often confused with It’s. It’s is a contraction of it is. Contraction is reduction in size.
- Do not get confused, Possessive Pronouns and Possessive Adjectives are completely different. Possessive Pronouns replace nouns whereas Possessive Adjectives show ownership.
There vs Their vs They’re
A common mistake not only for students learning English but also for native speakers is the difference between There, Their and They’re in written English.
This happens because both words sound the same when they are spoken.
Words that sound the same but have different meanings (and sometimes spelling) are called homophones. Therefore they’re, their and there are Homophones.
Which words would make the following sentence correct?
- They’re/Their/There playing they’re/their/there video games over they’re/their/there.
The answer appears at the end of the post so let’s learn the rules meanwhile.
What is the difference between There, Their and They’re?
There is the opposite of Here. It means ‘in that place’ not here.
- A: Where is my book? – B: It’s over there.
- I will look for a hotel to stay when I arrive there.
There is/There are = to show that something exists.
- There is a book on the table
- There are many countries in Europe.
Their is a possessive adjective which is used before a noun. It shows possession, that something belongs to them.
- Their house is big.
- All of their friends were crazy.
- The children put their books in their school bags.
They’re is a contraction of they are.
e.g. They’re happy = They are happy
They’re is usually before an adjective or a verb ending in ING.
- They’re very interested in the project.
- I personally think they’;re crazy!
- They’re singing loudly.
So now you know the difference let’s try the original question:
- They’re/Their/There playing they’re/their/there video games over they’re/their/there.
The answer is:
- They’re playing their video games over there.
They’re playing (they’re is used before a verb ending in -ing making it the progressive tense)
Their video games (their is a possessive used before a noun to show possession)
Over there (there because it means not here, in that place)
Your vs You’re
A common mistake not only for students learning English but also for native speakers is the difference between Yourand You’re in written English.
This happens because both words sound the same when they are spoken.
What is the difference between Your and You’re?
The most simple explanation is that:
Your = a possessive adjective. It shows possession, that something belongs to the person you are talking to. e.g. This is not my pen, it is your pen.
You’re = You are. It is a contraction (or short way of writing). e.g. You’re crazy = You are crazy
Adjectives are words which describe nouns or pronouns. Demonstrative adjectives are one among seven types of Adjectives.
The major function of Demonstrative Adjectives is to let the listener or reader have a clear idea about nouns being talked about.
Types of Demonstrative Pronouns
There are two types of Demonstrative Adjectives. They are:
- Singular Demonstrative Adjectives
- Plural Demonstrative Adjectives
Singular Demonstrative Adjectives
Singular Demonstrative Adjectives are those adjectives which refer to people or things which are close to the speaker in terms of distance and time. There are few Singular Demonstrative Adjectives. They are:
- If you make this noise again, I will punch you.
- Can you pass me this red pen?
- Is this yours or mine?
- How is this idea of going to swim?
- This place is beautiful and peaceful.
- This is my dream girl.
- Is this what you cooked?
That/Yonder/Yon (it means in a distant but within sight)
- He is not so sure that he can dance.
- That is madness.
- That is his car.
- Is that booking his?
- That is their workplace.
- They went to clean yon temples.
- Yonder beggar-who is he?
- The former education minister was a corrupt person.
- The former policy was not so progressive.
- The country was destroyed by the former government.
- The former idea was accepted by everyone.
- I took the former offer.
- He has blamed his former wife.
- He preferred the latter option.
- In the latter part of the century women started getting their rights.
- In these latter days of inflation people suffered a lot.
- In the latter part of the story the prince kills the princess.
- In these latter days of suffering we should help each other.
- In that latter decision people may be pleased.
- In the latter class people came up with new ideas.
Plural Demonstrative Adjectives
Plural Demonstrative Adjectives are those adjectives which refer to people or things far from the speaker in terms of distance and time. There are two Plural Demonstrative Adjectives. They are:
- These skirts are my favorite summer clothes to wear in college.
- Eat these chocolate muffins.
- These shoes belong to my lovely mother.
- Buy him these groceries from the market.
- These cupcakes look so tasty.
- The boys who threw these torn sheets will be punished.
- These singers came to our town to sing in the yearly fair.
- Can you pass me those laptops, please?
- Do not go to meet those liars again without informing us.
- Those pens in my room don’t write anymore.
- Those employers who do not care about employees are selfish and immoral.
- Those socks are wet and smelly.
- Should we edit those plays or write new ones?
- Why doesn’t he forgive those naughty students?
Use of Numbers As Demonstrative Adjectives
Ordinal numbers can be used to express order and show distance in space and time as Demonstrative Adjectives.
- For my fifth birthday, I got a toy car.
- The first time I saw her, I knew she was the one.
- Even in the twenty-first century, so many taboos still exist in society.
Confusion with Demonstrative Pronouns
Demonstrative Adjectives are often confused as Demonstrative Pronouns. This may be because words like this, that, these and those are both Demonstrative Adjectives and Demonstrative Pronouns. However, we should clearly understand that these words as Demonstrative pronouns do not modify nouns and stand alone.
|Use as Adjectives||Use as Pronoun|
|This pizza is very tasty.||This is a tasty pizza.|
|Those boys are playing cricket.||These are my children – Scott and Ana.|
What is the difference between Demonstrative Adjectives and Demonstrative Pronouns?
Demonstrative Adjectives and Demonstrative Pronouns use the same words. The easiest way to know that difference is that Demonstrative Adjectives are always before a noun while Demonstrative Pronouns are before a verb or by themselves.
- This book is old. (Demonstrative Adjective + Noun)
- This is new. (Demonstrative Pronoun + Verb)
- Did you like that? (Demonstrative Pronoun by itself)
Everything else is the same. For example, both Demonstrative Ajectives and Pronouns use the word THIS (singular) to talk about something that is close to you and the plural of THIS is THESE.
Present vs. Past
If an action is near in time we tend to use this / these.
If an action has finished or is in the past we use that / those.
- This is a good meal. (at the time of eating)
- Those girls we met last night were silly. (an event that happened in the past).
The expression this is is commonly used when you talk on the phone or you introduce people.
- “Hello, this is Peter.”
- Carol, this is my friend Simon. Simon, this is Carol.
Adjectives are words which describe nouns or pronouns. Distributive Adjectives are one among seven types of Adjectives.
Adjectives which are used to refer people or things individually among many are called Distributive Adjectives. Distributive Adjectives are always followed by a singular noun and a verb. But, we should keep in mind that after using Distributive Adjectives we should use plural noun and singular verb.
Distributive Adjectives are:
||Literally, Each is a singular noun.
It is used to show that certain condition is applied to everyone in a group/mass.
If the noun that represents the group is plural, we use “each of” instead.
||Every means all those which can be counted without an exception.
“Every” and “each” are similar and interchangeable on most occasions.
However, there is a subtle difference.
Both convey the same meaning i.e. “all members”
||Either means one or another among two available options.|
||Neither means non of the two options available.|
||Any means at least one type or no matter what type is available.|
||One means a numerical value and denotes a single being/thing.|
Neither = not one and not the other
Neither is a negative word and is accompanied by an affirmative singular verb.
Neither X nor Y
Neither … nor … is used as a conjunction. It is the opposite of “Both … and …” If a verb comes after this phrase, that verb is in the singular form (Sometimes you will hear it used in the plural form though it is not grammatically correct)
- Neither John nor Fred likes doing the dishes. (= “Both John and Fred don’t like doing the dishes”)
- I want neither the red shirt nor the blue shirt.
- I neither smoke nor drink.
Neither + singular noun
Neither is used as a determiner before a single noun.
- Neither team wanted to lose.
- That tennis game was very close. Neither player had a clear advantage.
- Neither parent knew about the accident.
Neither of + determiner + plural noun
You can use Neither of before a determiner (my, his, these, the etc.) and a plural noun.
- Neither of my friends came to class today.
- Neither of the parents understood what the baby was trying to say.
- Neither of our cars has enough petrol so we have to take the bus.
Neither of + Pronoun
When using Neither + of + pronoun (you, us, them), we need the preposition OF before that pronoun. (If a verb comes after this phrase then it is in singular form)
- The present is for neither of us.
- Neither of them is married.
- Neither of us expected to be fired.
Neither in short responses
Neither is frequently used as part of a short response when someone says something negative and you agree with them.
- A: I have never been to Switzerland
- B: Neither have I.
- A: I don’t want to go.
- B: Neither do I.
Neither can also be used alone.
- A: Would you like a blue tie or a green tie?
- B: Neither. (= Neither tie)
Neither vs. Either
You can use Either with a negative verb to replace Neither with a positive verb
- I have neither time nor money
- I don’t have either time or money.
Either = any one of the two = this one or the other one
Either is accompanied by an affirmative singular verb and is mostly used in questions or negative sentences
Either X or Y
Either … or … is used as a conjunction. It is used to express alternatives and or a choice between two (and sometimes more) things. It is used a verb in singular form (Sometimes you will hear it used in the plural form though it is not grammatically correct).
- Either you or John has to finish the report before 5pm.
- You can have either the red shirt or the blue shirt. (= but not both)
- Either you leave the building now or I call the security guards.
Either + singular noun
Either is used as a determiner before a single noun.
- There are only two options and I’m not interested in either film.
- A: Do you want it ready for Thursday or Friday? B: Either day is fine for me.
Either of + determiner + plural noun
You can use Either of before a determiner (my, his, these, the etc.) and a plural noun.
- We’ve been dating for 6 months and I haven’t met either of her parents.
- I haven’t read either of these books.
- I don’t want either of those apples. Do you have one that is not rotten?
Either + of + Pronoun
When using Either + of + object pronoun (you, us, them), we need the preposition OF before that pronoun.
- I don’t think he is going to invite either of us.
- A: Which photo do you prefer? B: I don’t like either of them
- I think I left my keys and wallet at the office. I don’t want to lose either of them.
Either can also be used alone. It means it doesn’t matter which alternative. Sometimes it is accompanied by the pronoun “one”.
- A: Would you like a coffee or a tea?
- B: Either (one). (= I don’t mind if it’s coffee or tea, both alternatives are fine)
Either in short responses
Either can be used at the end of a negative sentence when you agree with something negative someone else has said. It is similar to meaning TOO and ALSO (which are used in affirmative sentences).
- A: I wasn’t thirsty. B: I wasn’t either. (You cannot say “I wasn’t too”)
- A: I’ve never been to Portugal. B: I haven’t either.
- A: I didn’t go to class yesterday. B: I didn’t either
All – Every – Each
The difference between All, Every, and Each – Quick Explanation
All means the total number of people or things considered as a group.
Every means all members of a group considered individually.
Each means all members of a group considered individually though we think of them more one by one.
What is the difference between Each and Every?
Both Each and Every generally have the same meaning. They refer to all members of a group considered individually. Every is closer in meaning to All than Each is.
- Every book in the course must be read before the end of the semester.
- Each book in the course must be read before the end of the semester.
(= This book and that book and that book etc. of the group of books) We use each when we think of them more as one by one. There is a little less emphasis on the individual with Every when comparing it to Each.
However notice that everycannot be used when referring to two things and is not common with small numbers.
- Every (one) of my parents (incorrect)
- Each of my parents (correct)
We cannot use Each with the words Almost or Nearly. Here we use Every.
- Almost each car pollutes the atmosphere. (incorrect)
- Almost every car pollutes the atmosphere. (correct)
More details about Every, Each and All…
— EVERY —
Every refers to all members of a group though considered individually. It can be used to talk about three or more people/things.
Every + singular noun
The noun that comes after Every is in singular form.
- I have visited everycountry in South America (we do NOT say: every countries)
- I can understand every word our teacher says. (we do NOT say: every words)
Note, when you use every + noun as a subject, it uses a singular verb (verb + s)
- Every day is a chance to learn something new.
- Every child needs love and care.
- Every house on the street looks the same.
Every + number + plural noun
Every can be followed by a plural noun when there is a number before that noun. This is common with periods of time or things at regular intervals.
- He gets his head shaved every three weeks.
- You need to take a break every two hours.
We can also use every without a number and a singular noun to refer to regular intervals:
- He plays football every Saturday.
- She goes to the gym every day.
— EACH —
Each refers to all members of a group though we think of them more one by one (individually). Each can be used to talk about two or more people/things.
Each + singular countable noun
You use a singular (countable) noun after the word Each.
- Make sure you enjoy each moment in your life.
- They play the national anthem of each country before the game begins.
- Live each day as if it were your last.
Each + one
One can be used to replace the singular countable noun if it has already been mentioned.
- A: What do I have to do with these antique vases? B: You need to take each one out of the box very carefully. (each one = each vase)
Each of + determiner + plural noun
Each can be followed by a determiner (my, his, the, etc.) and a plural noun.
- I kiss each of my children before they go to bed at night.
- The teacher had a little kid holding on to each of her hands.
- Each of the guides has a different group to show around the museum.
Notice how after each of the verb is usually in singular form though when speaking informally, you will sometimes hear a plural verb used.
- Each of my students has a different assignment to complete. (correct use)
- Each of my students have a different assignment to complete. (informal use)
Each of + pronoun (you/us/them)
We can only use the pronouns you/us/them after each of.
- He gave each of us a small gift at the end of the course.
- You need to wash each of them before use.
- Each of you needs to complete the assignment individually.
Again the verb following each of + pronoun should be in the singular form.
Each as a pronoun
Each can be used by itself (without a noun) as a pronoun.
- When the students finished to course, each was given a certificate. (Each = each of the students)
Though it is more common to use each one instead of each by itself.
- …each one was given a certificate.
Noun/Pronoun + each
Each can be used after the noun (or pronoun) it describes.
- The parents gave their children some pocket money. To avoid problems, they each received the same amount.
Auxiliary Verb/To Be + each
Each can be used after an auxiliary verb or the verbs Are and Were.
- I have four books to sell and they areeach worth around five dollars.
- They have each been told their responsibilities.
Object + each
Instead of going before/after the subject, each can appear after the object.
This is common when the noun object refers to an amount, how many of something there is or when giving a price.
- My paintings are worth $100 each (= Each of my paintings are worth $100)
- I gave my children each an ice cream.
English Grammar Notes On Conditional Sentences