Position of adjectives

Position of adjectives
Position of adjectives

In other previous entries it has already been made clear that the main function of adjectives is to complement nouns, something they can do either before or after them. That's what we're going to talk about next, about the position of adjectives.


When the adjective precedes the noun, they are called prefixes. And they are explanatory adjectives

In these cases, the most common is that the adjective adds a significant and merely explanatory note, without this in any way delimiting the definition of the noun.

Grass Green

In fact, in many cases like the one above, these explanatory adjectives are a note inherent in the noun. As in carbon black.

Or you can play with that explanation but in a poetic way. “The dark swallows will return” (Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer)

However, there are also prefixed adjectives that incorporate a more descriptive and less explanatory value:

Winding paths. Statuesque figure.

On the other hand there are postponed adjectives to nouns, which as a rule are specifying adjectives. In other words, they provide a delimitation or specific characteristic of the name they accompany.

The red car. The Big House.

Also there are certain adjectives that always appear following a specific noun. Somehow they are already established expressions. Without going any further we talk about networkssocial to define facebook, twitter and others, but it would never occur to us to say social networks, not even with poetic license.

Like the national adjectives, as a general rule, they are always postponed to the name: the Argentine soccer player.

Although later we can find postposed adjectives that do not have a specific value, they are explanatory. But it has a very specific form of presentation:

The tall man warned me (specific)

The man, tall, warned me (explanatory, and always between commas)

Other interesting cases of valuing are those adjectives that come to change their meaning depending on their position. In other words, they mean something different if they go before or after the noun. There are examples that we all know.

It is not the same to say poor man as poor man. In the first case we speak of an unfortunate and in the second of a person without resources. Or when we talk about a new house, we refer to a brand new house, while if it is a new house it is a change of residence. That's not to mention more obvious cases like a certain thing (some) or a certain thing (true).

And finally we have to mention some examples in which the adjective always goes in the same position, either before or after.

Mere procedure (you would never say mere procedure)

Railway (Impossible a railway)

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