Distinguishing Adjectives from Nouns and Adverbs

Distinguishing Adjectives from Nouns and Adverbs

In most cases, differentiating adjectives from nouns and adverbs is simple.

Sometimes, however, it’s a little more complicated. For instance, some words have identical noun and adjective forms.

When you encounter words with identical noun and adjective forms, you have to look at how the word functions in the sentence.

In the first sentence above, “green” describes the noun “tree,” so we know it’s an adjective. In the second sentence, “green” is the subject. It doesn’t describe or modify anything, so we know it’s a noun.

Nominal adjectives can be complicated too.

Adjectives can’t replace nouns, but sometimes nouns can be removed, or elided, from the sentence. When this happens, the elided noun is implicit—readers know what it is. The adjective that remains is called a nominal adjective.

Although “rich” and “poor” function almost as nouns in this sentence, they’re still adjectives. More specifically, they’re nominal adjectives, and the noun “people” is implied.

To learn more about distinguishing adjectives from nouns and adverbs, visit WriteLab’s Guide.


WriteLab brings together Natural Language Processing, Artificial Intelligence, and English Language Instruction. Student writing is analyzed in seconds with the WriteLab app—giving students feedback and suggestions on how to revise and polish their draft.

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