Correct use of English Adjectives
1. The Adjective is correctly used with a verb when some quality of the subject, rather than of the action of the verb, is to be expressed:
The flowers smell sweet. (not sweetly)
That statement sounds queer.
It tastes sour.
2. As a general rule, if any phrase denoting manner could be substituted, the adverb should be used; but if some part of the verb to be could be employed as a connective, the Adjective is required.
The ship appeared suddenly.
The decision appears unjust.
We feel warmly on the subject.
We feel warm.
He spoke angrily.
He looked angry.
3. The plural forms these and those are often used with the singular nouns kind and sort:
These kind of things.
Such a form of expression is, however, constantly heard and occurs in good writers.
Some grammarians insist that we should say:
“This kind of things.” Or “Things of this kind.”
4. The words, superior, inferior, senior, junior, prior, anterior, and posterior, take to instead of than:
As a novelist Jane Austen is superior to Fielding.
Haris is inferior to Rahim in intelligence.
He is senior to me.
5. In comparing two things or classes of things the Comparative should be used:
Of two evils, choose the less. (not least.)
Which is the better (not best) of the two?
He is the taller of the two.
6. When a comparison is instituted by means of a Comparative followed by than, the thing compared must be always excluded from the class of things with which it is compared, by using other or some such words:
He is stronger than any other man living.
The Nile is said to be longer than all other rivers in Asia.
The Taj is more beautiful than all other mausoleums.
7. In a comparison by means of a superlative, the latter term should include the former:
Soloman was the wisest of all men (not all other men.)
The crocodile is the largest of all reptiles.
8. A very common form of error is exemplified in the following sentence:
The population of London is greater than any town in Pakistan.
The population of London is greater than that of any town in Pakistan.
The comparison is between:
(i) The population of London and
(ii) The population of any town in Pakistan.
9. Double Comparatives and Superlatives are to be avoided.
It was the most unkindest cut. (incorrect)
It was the unkindest cut. (correct)
10. Preferable has the force of a Comparative, and is followed by to. We must not say more preferable.
He has a scheme of his own which he thinks preferable to that of any other person.
11. Less (the comparative of little) is used before uncountable nouns, while fewer (the comparative of few) is used before plural nouns.
No fewer (or less) than fifty miners were killed in the explosion.
12. Certain adjectives do not really admit of comparison because their meaning is already superlative; as,
Unique, ideal, perfect, complete, universal, entire, extreme, chief, full, squire, round
Do not therefore say:
Most unique, quite unique, chiefest, extremist, fullest,
13. Older and oldest, may be said either of persons or of things, while elder and eldest apply to persons only, and are besides, strictly speaking, confined to members of the same family.
He was older than Khalid.
He will succeed to the title in the event of the death of his elder brother.
He is the eldest of the Naeem’s family.
14. The two first is a meaningless expression, for it implies the two things may be first. We should say “the first two.”
The first two chapters of the novel are rather dull.
The first two boys were awarded gold medals.
15. Few and a. few have different meanings.
Few is negative, and equivalent to not many, hardly any.
A few is positive, and equivalent to some.
Few persons can keep a secret.
A few words spoken in earnest will convince him.
Similarly little = not much; a little = some, though not much.
There is little hope of his recovery.
A little tact would have saved the situation.
16. Latter is often wrongly used for last. Use latter when there are two only, last when there are more.
Of the three, tea, coffee and cocoa, the last (not latter) is his favourite.
17. Verbal is often wrongly used for oral.
Verbal means ‘of or pertaining to words’; oral means, ‘delivered by word of mouth’ not written. Hence the opposite of written is oral, not verbal.
His written statement differs in several important respects from his oral (not verbal) statement.
The lad was sent with an oral message to doctor.
Were your instructions oral or written?
18. Do not say “our mutual friend.” The proper expression is “our common friend”.
They were introducted to each other by a common (not mutual) friend.
We happened to meet at the house of a common friend.