Describing Words

A describing word can either be an adjective or an adverb. Adjectives describe nouns and pronouns. Adverbs describe verbs. Describing words give us more information about people and places and make our writing more interesting.

Adjectives are describing words that tell more about nouns and pronouns. A noun names a person, place, thing, or idea. A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun. Adjectives answer the following questions:

  • What kind?
  • Which one?
  • How many?

Here are some examples:

What Kind?  
the tall manthe mean officera solid ice cube
a great vacationa five-year-old childan unhappy woman
a cute puppya clean windowa full glass
a large televisiona bright stara spotless room
the blue crayonthe large boxthe fancy car
the brown tilesthe dirty clothesthe comfortable chair
the tasty candythe blond-headed boythe smart girl
Which One?  
That machineThis notebookThose girls
These eggsThat giraffeThis controller
Those socksThese shirtsThat dish
This foodThose basketsThese glasses
That airplaneThis ornamentThose earrings
How Many?  
Some pillowsFew dollarsThree pencils
Many booksSeveral yearsFifteen minutes
Four shirtsFourteen centsDozen eggs
Two shoesThousand reasonsTen fingers
Five hoursTwelve daysNine candles
One pictureEighteen milesSix inches

When two or more objects are being compared, there are two types of adjectives used to describe their relationship. These two types of describing words are called comparative and superlative.

Comparative describing words compare only two subjects. The word than is usually used with comparative adjectives. The suffix –er is usually on the end of comparative adjectives. Sometimes the suffix –ier is used when a two-syllable adjective ends in the letter y. Otherwise we use the word more. Here are some examples:

Josie is richer than GladysMy daughter is more talented than yours
Beau is taller than TessaThis question is more difficult than that one
Kate is prettier than MargaretI am more interesting than you

Superlative describing words compare more than two subjects. The word the usually precedes superlative adjectives. The suffix –est is usually on the end of superlative adjectives. Sometimes the suffix –ier is used when the two-syllable adjective ends in the letter y. Otherwise we used the word most. Here are some examples:

Snowball is the prettiest cat in townMy daughter is the most beautiful child
My mom is the smartest woman aliveThis is the most impossible task
This is the best movie I have ever seenPeas are the most disgusting food

Some describing words are related to proper nouns. They should be capitalized. Here are some examples:

Christian musicFrench toastIrish pub
English classGothic styleCanadian government
Spanish architectureAmerican foodJapanese robes
Greek artVictorian decorAfrican dance
Chinese restaurantBaptist preacherRussian caviar

Adverbs are describing words that modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. (Verbs are words that show action. Adverbs usually end in the letters –ly. Adverbs answer the following questions:

  • When?
  • Where?
  • How?
  • To What Extent?

Here are some examples:

When?   
NowLaterFrequentlySoon
OftenLatelyRarelySuddenly
NeverSometimesThenAbruptly
AfterwhileAlwaysDailyEndlessly
EternallyFirstLastEarly
YesterdayTomorrowTodayRegularly
MonthlyUsually
Where?   
HereThereSomewhereOut
EverywhereInInsideOutside
UpstairsDownstairs
How?   
SlowlyTogetherQuietlyUneasily
LoudlyKindlyQuicklyWeirdly
WillfullyFirmlyDelightfullyCheerfully
LightlyDelicatelyWearilyExpertly
SorrowfullyBeautifullyTruthfullyRandomly
BrutallyBrisklySloppilyWickedly
ConsequentlySubtlyGracefullyRudely
SoftlySneakilyArdentlyVigorously
To What Extent?   
QuiteReallyVeryToo
AlmostAlsoOnlyEnough
SoRather

Adverbs are describing words that can tell more about adjectives. Here are some examples:

  • The child had a really bad attitude.
  • We had a wonderfully amazing time on our vacation.
  • You are quite right.

Adverbs can even describe other adverbs. Here is an example:

  • She spoke very quietly.

Adverbs can appear virtually anywhere in a sentence. There is really no particular rule about their placement. Here are some examples:

  • She really doesn’t care what she eats for dinner.
  • He literally ruined his new suit in the rain.
  • The boy simply didn’t understand the rules of the game.
  • Sadly, she lost all of her money.
  • I ate heartily at the Thai buffet.
  • I so want a new automobile.
  • The boss almost hired me for the job, but he changed his mind at the last minute.
  • My mother mildly disapproved of my behavior.

Using Describing Words in Writing

Describing words add information to your writing. It is important to learn how to use them effectively. It’s not good to use too many describing words in your writing. Most of your writing should consist of nouns and verbs (action words). Good writing shows the readers what you’re trying to say instead of simply telling them.