Type of adjective Examples Ways they can be explained
possessive adjectives. my, your, his, her, its, our, your, their, whose. words that show who owns or "possesses" something.
numbering/quantity adjectives (Quantifiers). many, few, some, single, two, lots of, five, ten, one, first, last. words that tell how many or how much.
describing/factual adjectives (abstract or technical/factual describers). size (huge, large),
age (old, new),
shape (bulbous, thin),
colour (red, mottled blue),
abstract and or technical (critical, contagious, technical).
words that describe (if more that one precedes a noun they are usually listed in the order shown here).
Comparative/superlative adjectives better, worse, further, farther, elder, older, more, best, bigger, worst, furthest, farthest, oldest, eldest. words used when comparing two or more nouns.
classifying adjectives. magnetic force, vertebrate creature, venomous snake, animal doctor, French bread, passenger bus, Australian history, Aboriginal art. words that tell us opinions.

Activities to support the strategy

Activity 1

Use a classroom text that students are currently engaged with and highlight all adjectives before and after the nouns in the short text chosen. Have students discuss how the use of the adjectives makes the writing more precise and interesting. Have the students change the adjective and discuss how the meaning/image has now changed. Have the students illustrate/paint the altered texts according to the adjectives used and thus the images created.

Activity 2: building noun groups

Ask students to take one of the basic sentences (or create their own) and then spin the spinner. The student then forms a complete descriptive sentence by adding the descriptor the needle lands on and making any adjustments to make it grammatically correct. The spinner has the following possibilities.

Activity 3

Use a “snakes and ladders” game board or other produced one or a teacher/student made board (print and laminate). Use a dice and game pieces.

Print and laminate the adjective cards – use the ones below, coloured ones with pictures or a student created resource bank. Each card has one adjective. The student must express a noun that can be described with that adjective in order to take a turn in the game. Teacher or leader makes up a sentence with the adjectives (trying to create variety as pre and post modifiers) and student has to repeat the sentence. Older students, or younger students in further practice, can compile their own lists and sentences.

Activity 4: adjective wheels

Working in pairs, or a small group, students develop adjective wheels around a topic and then they are assembled to make a “car”.

Activity 5


Many adjectives are basic descriptive words, that is, they exist independently of any other word category, or are the root word of a word family, for example, good, bad, ugly. Have students create a bank of adjectives — basic descriptive words — around current content. They may use multimodal resources (synonyms/antonyms from Word, online thesaurus' and dictionaries) as well as print based resources.

Other adjectives are inflected forms of other words — changed form of a word to express a particular grammatical function or attribute, typically tense, mood, person, number, and gender — derived from verbs and nouns. For example charming, lost. Other adjectives can be formed from nouns, for example homeless (from home) or challenging (from challenge), or even from other adjectives (for example greenish).

Words can be formed from other words by adding an appropriate ending to make the new word.


  1. Unthinkable, doable, mendable, possible, plausible — with –able or –ible
  2. Careless, fruitless, homeless, motionless — with less
  3. Beautiful, hopeful, wonderful, awful, blissful — with ful
  4. Angry, foggy, lazy, stormy, skinny, bloody, — with –y
  5. Fortyish, yellowish, darkish, smallish — with –ish
  6. Distinguished, bored, displaced, contented, squared — with –ed
  7. Challenging, alarming, amazing, exciting — with –ing

Word bank example:

Verb Noun (the or a) Adjective
(blank) flaw flawed, flawless
retreat retreat retreating
care care careless
(blank) girl girlish
rest rest restful

Activity 6: carousel brainstorm

Students work in groups with a large sheet of paper and headings such as colour, size, colour, shape, sensory words (feels, tastes, etc.) which could relate to a current topic. Each group has its own coloured marker. On a signal students brainstorm as many adjectives for the chart as possible in the time allotted (1-2 minutes) then at the next signal, all rotate until all groups have contributed to each chart. These brainstorms help create reference charts for the walls to use in writing. Use these created resources to refine sentences both authentic and teacher-created for a particular purpose.

Activity 7

Using students writing expand their word selection choices by developing a cemetery of “dead” words (i.e. those overused or banal words), for example, nice (The nice girl...). These can either be expanded as a word wall (as in the example below) or conventionally displayed -dependent on class.

Variation: As students' demonstrate overuse of specific words (e.g. said, can't etc.) write them on tiny scraps of paper, the whole class take the papers out into the garden and bury them (once gone never to return to the classroom). This activity will need careful consideration of the emotional needs of the students in the class however.

Activity 8: poems with adjectives

Students write a poem by writing a statement then repeating the first describing line each time adding another adjective. For example:

On my way to the zoo I saw a bear.
It was a brown bear.
It was an ugly brown bear
It was a wild, ugly, brown bear
It was an angry, wild, ugly, brown bear
It was a hungry, angry, wild, ugly, brown bear
It was an escaped, hungry, angry, wild, ugly, brown bear
And it wanted to eat me!

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