Author Archives: Susan

A red-hot metal horseshoe on a blacksmith’s anvil

Using hyphens in multi-word adjectives

Hyphens and compound adjectives We know that we use adjectives to describe nouns, pronouns and other adjectives. But when we have a long string of adjectives before a noun, it is possible that some of them describe another adjective, rather than the noun at the end of the string. Consider these two sentences: The blacksmith

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Good, better, best: comparing adjectives and the problem of modified absolutes

Adjectives have an interesting feature: we can compare many of them, and then use these comparisons to compare nouns. Trinidad and Tobago had a fast team in the men’s relay. The USA had a faster team. Jamaica, with Usain Bolt, had the fastest team of all. The different forms of the adjective fast (faster, fastest)

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Great green dragons: the order and types of adjectives

J.R.R. Tolkien, the professor of languages more famous for being the author of The Hobbit and The Lord of Rings, was fascinated by the idea of dragons from an early age. When he was about seven he began to compose his own story about a dragon. ‘I remember almost nothing about it except a philological

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Yellow, red, orange and blue shipping containers stacked on top and beside each other

Adjectives: an introduction

Adjectives have a simple use: they describe nouns, and also pronouns and other adjectives. A simple definition is that adjectives are ‘describing words’. If we think of nouns as containers of meaning, adjectives help to give extra definition to our meaning. We can talk about a container, for example, or a yellow container or a

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Commonly confused words: medal and meddle and pedal and peddle (and pedaller and pedlar)

Medal and meddle The difference between medal and meddle is straightforward: a medal is a small, wearable ornament, usually a metal disk, that usually either commemorates an event or has been awarded in recognition of some achievement. We see returned service personnel or their descendants wear their medals as they march on Anzac Day or

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