My question is: when do we put adjectives before nouns, and when do we put adjective after nouns? Because sometimes, I heard people put adjectives before nouns and sometimes after.

  • 3
    You mentioned that you heard people. Would you mind sharing what you heard [from them]? It would help in providing an explanation.
    – shin
    Commented Aug 13, 2015 at 9:55
  • There's a thorough article addressing this at the given link (the right thing to do would be for me to summarise it and post it as an answer with a link to the article, but I don't have time right now - someone else please feel free to do so) dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/…
    – jfhc
    Commented Aug 13, 2015 at 13:28

1 Answer 1

  1. Adjectives usually go before nouns in English.

  2. Adjectives can be a subject complement, in which case they will follow a linking verb as described below. The following is an excerpt from here that explains:

    The following verbs are true linking verbs: any form of the verb be [am, is, are, was, were, has been, are being, might have been, etc.], become, and seem. These true linking verbs are always linking verbs.

    Then you have a list of verbs that can be linking or action: appear, feel, grow, look, prove, remain, smell, sound, taste, and turn. If you can substitute any of the verbs on this second list with an equal sign [=] and the sentence still makes sense, the verb is almost always linking.

  3. However, there are many cases where adjectives can follow the noun. The General Uses section in the Wikipedia article Postpositive Adjective explains it comprehensively.

    As a rough guide though, generally putting an adjective after the noun [noun] X is the equivalent to saying [noun] that is X

    Following the examples from the Wikipedia site:

    Every star visible is named after a famous astronomer = Every star that is visible is named after a famous astronomer.

    I'm here to find the people responsible = I'm here to find the people that are responsible.

    we need a box bigger than that = we need a box that is bigger than that

    There are also a number of set phrases that could in a way be considered compound words, and other cases detailed in the article.

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