Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Base and Strong Adjectives

Languages have different kinds of adjectives. Among these are number adjectives, possessive adjectives and demonstrative adjectives. Many adjectives fall into one of two categories- base and strong. Base adjectives often have a strong counterpart. The strong counterpart cannot be modified with the adverb "very" because this is an inherent quality of the adjective. On the other hand, base adjectives cannot be modified with the adverb "absolutely." The adverb "really," however, can modify both. Also, base adjectives always have comparative and superlative forms but many strong adjectives do not.

The adjective "delicious" is strong. The base counterpart is "tasty." The adjective "tasty" can be modified with "very." Thus "very tasty" is the equivalent of "delicious." The adjective "huge" is another strong adjective. The equivalent is "very big." Notice that it is possible to say absolutely huge but not possible to use "absolutely" with "big." Likewise it is possible to say "absolutely delicious" but not possible to combine "absolutely" with "tasty."

The strong counterparty of "dirty" is "filthy." We can say "very dirty" and "absolutely filthy." The strong counterpart of "good" is "perfect." We can say "very good" and "absolutely perfect." The strong counterpart of "beautiful" is "gorgeous." We can say "very beautiful" and "absolutely gorgeous." The strong counterparts of "hot" and "cold" are "boiling" and "freezing." We can say "very hot" and "very cold" with the base adjectives and "absolutely boiling" and "absolutely freezing" with the strong adjectives. Notice that we can say "A is hotter than B" and "C is colder than D" but we can not use comparatives with "boiling" and "freezing." This is a clue that "freezing" and "boiling" must be strong adjectives.

Strong and base adjectives belong to a large class of adjectives. It is often the case that a base adjective has a strong counterpart such as "surprising" and "astonishing." By remembering that only base adjectives can be modified by "very" and only strong adjectives can be modified by "absolutely," it is easy to determine whether an adjective is a base adjective or strong adjective.