For those of you joining me from the Tips page, I welcome you to the Grammarphobe Lessons! I'm Jennifer Gibbons, and I am a recovering grammarphobe. I started this series of grammar lessons to teach myself grammar again because I hate grammar with a passion. Considering I'm a writer, I know this sounds odd, but I always consider grammar left brained, and I don't have much of a left brain. However, I'm learning more about grammar, so come join me!
Today's topic is adjectives. Like verbs, I love adjectives. According to our friends Strunk and White, an adjective is defined as this: a word that adjusts, measures, or otherwise describes a noun or pronoun.
Here's some examples:
A rainy March
Angelina Jolie has a huge pregnancy bump.
Oona O'Neill Chaplin had beautiful black hair.
See where I'm going? It just adds a little extra.
Now some people get adverbs and adjectives confused. It's easy to do, they both start with the words a and d. Let's remember this:
Adjectives amend nouns. Adverbs amend verbs. They work together, side by side, like happy campers. Adverbs can't modify nouns, otherwise it's anarchy.
According to the OWL website, an adjective always follows a form of a verb to be when it adjusts the noun before the verb. I wonder what Hamlet would've thought of this rule. To be or not to be... hey, am I using the adjectives right?
An adjective usually follows a sense verb. One of the things I learned from Cornelia Nixon is you must always use senses when it comes to writing, so if you use the senses in verbs, then back it up with some adjectives. Here's an example:
The sticky heat simmered through the city.
Sticky heat=adjective, simmered=verb.
Now according to Stunk and White, we have to put adjectives in the same category as our old enemy, adverbs. Stunk and White says that the adjective hasn't been put together to pull a scrawny or imprecise noun out of a firm place.
Here I don't know. Adverbs I can see the case against them, sometimes they are unnecessary. However, sometimes you do need the adjectives to pep up the writing and make sure the reader knows what the scene looks like. However, this can be shown with nouns and verbs...
Yes, I am being very wishy-washy, Charlie Brownish about this.
I say, do what you feel is right for your writing. Sometimes I need adjectives, sometimes I take the less is more approach. I would write it both ways, and then read both sections aloud. The section that sounds best wins.
I hope this makes sense. In the meantime, I'm going to take a hot shower, put on my battered blue jeans, and I'm off to visit my beloved father. Hmmm, maybe Stunk and White do have a point after all... how about shower, blue jeans, off to visit Dad. Take your pick, Gentle Reader; I'm off for the day.
Causes Jennifer Gibbons Supports
Gilda's Club, Greenpeace, Rosie's Broadway Kids,Westwind Foster Family Agency, Amber Brown Fund, Linda Duncan Fund for Contra Costa Libraries