Adjectives are words that describe qualities, such as size (“big,” “narrow”), color (“black, “red”), and value (“good,” “cheap”). In English, adjectives are mostly used to modify nouns — that is, in a noun phrase that specifies what kind of noun is meant: a big house, red ink, the cheap hats.

good-night

Adjectives are words that describe qualities, such as size (“big,” “narrow”), color (“black, “red”), and value (“good,” “cheap”). In English, adjectives are mostly used to modify nouns — that is, in a noun phrase that specifies what kind of noun is meant: a big house, red ink, the cheap hats. Less often, English adjectives can be used without a noun: land of the free, home of the brave. When an adjective is used without an accompanying noun, English usually requires the addition of the word one or ones in place of the noun: a big one (not *a big), the cheap ones (not *the cheap).

When they are used to modify a noun, adjectives always follow the noun. The picture above is an example of how to say “good night” in middle Egyptian. The adjective nfr “good” comes after the noun grH “night.” The phrase is literally “night good.” Other languages have the same rule such as Spanish where we have “casa blanca” meaning “white house” but it is literally “house white.”