Understanding Attributive and Predicative Adjectives: A Comprehensive Guide

Dive into the comprehensive guide to understanding attributive and predicative adjectives. Learn their functions, positions, and how they modify nouns in different ways.

When it comes to mastering the English language, understanding the roles of attributive and predicative adjectives is crucial. These two types of adjectives serve to modify nouns in different ways, and their correct usage can significantly enhance your writing. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of attributive and predicative adjectives, offering you a comprehensive understanding of their functions, positions, and examples.

What Are Attributive Adjectives?

Attributive adjectives are those that appear immediately before the noun they are intended to modify. They are part of the same noun phrase and are not separated by any linking verbs. For instance, in the sentence “The beautiful car is parked outside,” the word “beautiful” is an attributive adjective modifying the noun “car.”

Examples of Attributive Adjectives

  • The spicy food was delicious.
  • She wore a red dress.
  • They live in a big house.

What Are Predicative Adjectives?

On the other hand, predicative adjectives occur after the noun and are usually linked to the noun by a linking verb. These adjectives act as subject complements and provide more information about the subject of the sentence. For example, in the sentence “The car is beautiful,” the word “beautiful” is a predicative adjective.

Examples of Predicative Adjectives

  • The food is spicy.
  • Her dress looks red.
  • Their house seems big.

Key Differences Between Attributive and Predicative Adjectives

Understanding the differences between these two types of adjectives can greatly improve your writing skills. Here are some key points to consider:


  • Attributive adjectives precede the noun they modify.
  • Predicative adjectives follow the noun and are usually linked by a linking verb.

Verb Association

  • Attributive adjectives can be used with both action and linking verbs.
  • Predicative adjectives occur immediately after a linking verb.

Subject Complement

  • Attributive adjectives do not act as subject complements.
  • Predicative adjectives can act as subject complements.

FAQs on Attributive and Predicative Adjectives

  1. What are examples of predicative adjectives?

    • Examples include “happy,” “sad,” “angry,” and “tired,” as in “She is happy” or “He looks tired.”
  2. Is it attributive or predicative?

    • If the adjective appears before the noun without a linking verb, it is attributive. If it appears after a linking verb and modifies the subject, it is predicative.
  3. What types of adjectives are attributive?

    • Most adjectives can function as either attributive or predicative, but some are exclusively one or the other. For example, “elder” and “mere” are typically attributive.
  4. What is the difference between a predicate and a predicate adjective?

    • A predicate is the part of a sentence that tells what the subject does or is like. A predicate adjective is a specific type of predicate that describes the subject.


In summary, attributive and predicative adjectives play vital roles in sentence construction. While attributive adjectives modify nouns directly and appear before them, predicative adjectives come after the noun and are linked by a verb. Understanding the nuances between these two can significantly elevate your writing skills.

Topic Keywords: Attributive adjectives, Predicative adjectives, English grammar, Noun modification, Subject complement, Linking verbs, Sentence construction

Attributive and Predicative Adjectives

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