Do you know your adjectives and adverbs pretty good? Hopefully not, because you ought to know them pretty well! In this lesson, we'll review the rules, and then, you'll get a little practice to let it all sink in.
Adjectives and Adverbs
Adjectives and adverbs are both types of modifiers, words that aren't grammatically necessary but add color and life to your sentences. A fizzing, sparking firecracker is more vivid than just a firecracker by itself. Talking about a huge, black dog paints a better mental picture than just talking about a dog. And smiling sarcastically is very different from smiling joyfully!
In this lesson, you'll get some practice with using these modifiers on the ACT, so you aren't accidentally adding grammar errors along with your descriptions. First off, let's review the rules.
An adjective is a modifier that describes a noun or pronoun. Adjectives answer the question 'what kind?', or 'how many?' For example, in the sentence, 'Jim doesn't like cold weather,' the word 'cold' is an adjective telling you what kind of weather Jim doesn't like.
An adverb is a modifier that describes a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. Adverbs answer the questions 'how?', 'where?', or 'when?' For example, in the sentence, 'Jim loudly complained about the cold,' the word 'loudly' is an adverb telling you how Jim complained.
Most adverbs are just adjectives with -ly stuck on the end. For example, 'quick' becomes 'quickly.' 'Loud' becomes 'loudly.' There are a few exceptions, though. Some common ones include good, well, fast, and hard.
Pay attention to these when you're working on the test. If you just assume that all adverbs end in -ly, you're likely to miss the tricky ones, like 'well' and 'fast.' And also remember that some adjectives end in -ly: for example, 'friendly' and 'lonely.'
You'll also get questions about comparing things using adjectives and adverbs. Remember that for two things, you use the comparative form. Make the comparative of an adjective either by adding -er to the end (as in 'colder') or by adding 'more' to the beginning (as in 'more beautiful'). Make the comparative of an adverb by adding 'more' to the beginning (as in 'more quickly').
For comparing three or more things, use the superlative. Make the superlative of an adjective either by adding -est to the end (as in 'coldest') or by adding 'most' to the beginning (as in 'most beautiful'). Make the superlative of an adverb by adding 'most' to the beginning (as in 'most quickly').
With that out of the way, let's dive into the practice problems! Ready for number one?
Of the three boys who competed at the state fair, I think Rob had the more interesting science project.
(A) (as it is now)
(B) Rob's science project was more interesting.
(C) Rob had the most interesting science project.
(D) Rob had a science project that was more interesting.
We can see that the adjective here is 'more interesting,' describing the science project. That's an adjective describing a noun, which is fine. But take a close look at how many boys you're comparing here. Since there are three boys, what form of the adjective will you need to use?
The superlative, right? 'More interesting' is only used to compare two things; to compare three, you need 'most interesting,' or answer choice (C).
How about another one:
Even though the scene of the accident was chaotic, the paramedic examined the panicking patient calmly and competent.
(A) (as it is now)
(B) calmly and competently
(C) calmly and his competent
(D) calm and competent
Let's take a look at what we've got here. We have two descriptions: 'calmly' and 'competent.' In the original sentence, one of them is an adverb and the other is an adjective.
What word are these two modifiers modifying? Is it a noun or something else? They're both examining 'examined,' telling you how the paramedic examined the patient. And the answer is 'calmly and competent…ly!' That's right; both of these words are modifying a verb, so they both need to be adverbs. So (B) is our answer.
How about one last example before you move on to do a few by yourself:
Compared to her sister, Patricia is easily the fastest at the backstroke with an especially impressive 100-meter time.
(A) (as it is now)
(B) easily faster at the backstroke
(C) easily fastest at the backstroke
(D) easily wins the backstroke
The modifier in the underlined portion is 'fastest.' That's an adjective, describing what?
Patricia. That's perfectly fine; it's an adjective describing a noun, so no need to change it to an adverb instead. But wait a minute. How many people are you comparing? Just two: Patricia and her sister. So does 'fastest' really belong here?
No, not really! 'Fastest' is for comparing three or more people, not just two! If you have just two people, you'd use the comparative form of the adjective, faster. That's in choice (B), so choice (B) is the correct answer.
In this lesson, you got some practice describing and comparing things with adjectives and adverbs. Remember that adjectives modify nouns and answer the question 'what kind?' Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs and answer the question 'how?'
Also, be alert for comparisons. If you're comparing two things, use the comparative form. For three or more things, use the superlative. With these two issues in mind, you'll be all set to answer questions about adjectives and adverbs on the ACT.
After this lesson is done, you should be able to:
- Define modifier, adjective and adverb
- Explain when to use the comparative or superlative form