Adjectives and adjective phrases: typical errors

  • We use –ing adjectives to describe an effect and -ed adjectives to describe how a person feels:

That was such an interesting lecture. Prof. Green is such a good speaker.

Not: That was such an interested lecture.

I was not interested in the lecture.

Not: I was not interesting

  • We can’t use some –ed forms before a noun:

The new results are clear from the diagram shown.

Not: … from the shown diagram

  • Adjectives in English do not change (agree) with the noun that they modify:

The tropical birds were beautiful.

Not: The tropical birds were beautifuls.

  • Some adjectives only appear before nouns and do not follow verbs. They include adjectives of degree, time and order, and adjectives that limit the noun that follows them:

The trip was a complete disaster from start to finish.

Not: The disaster was complete

His late wife Betty was related to my mother.

Not: His wife was late

The only person who can sort this out is Keith.

Not: The person was only

  • Take care to spell the suffix –ful with one l:

careful

carefull

helpful

helpfull

grateful

gratefull

wonderful

wonderfull

powerful

powerfull

beautiful

beautifull

  • Other errors with common adjectives

Most people go to the popular tourist destinations.

Not: … the popular touristic destinations.

It can be fun to work with young children.

Not: … funny to work with … (fun means ‘enjoyable’, funny means that something makes you laugh or that it is strange)

I have a very stressful job.

Not: … a very stressing job.

We went to a nearby restaurant.

Not: … a near restaurant.

What are the necessary ingredients for this dish?

Not: … the needed ingredients …?

I noticed an open window.

Not: … an opened window

I was really surprised when I heard the news.

Not: I was really surprise

We’re having a party on Friday. Everybody is welcome.

Not: Everybody is welcomed.

The younger generation often lack ambition.

Not: The young generation often lack ambition.

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