Grammar flash

Adjective After Certain Verbs

An adjective can come after some verbs, such as: be, become, feel, get, look, seem, smell, sound

Even when an adjective comes after the verb and not before a noun, it always refers to and qualifies the subject of the sentence, not the verb.

Look at the examples below: subject verb adjective

  • Ram is English.
  • Because she had to wait, she became impatient.
  • Is it getting dark?
  • The examination did not seem difficult.
  • Your friend looks nice.
  • This towel feels damp.
  • That new film doesn’t sound very interesting.
  • Dinner smells good tonight.
  • This milk tastes sour.
  • It smells bad.

These verbs are “stative” verbs, which express a state or change of state, not “dynamic” verbs which express an action. Note that some verbs can be stative in one sense (she looks beautiful | it got hot), and dynamic in another (she looked at him | he got the money). The above examples do not include all stative verbs.

Note also that in the above structure (subject verb adjective), the adjective can qualify a pronoun since the subject may be a pronoun.

Adjective Before Noun

We sometimes use more than one adjective before the noun:

  • I like big black dogs.
  • She was wearing a beautiful long red dress.

What is the correct order for two or more adjectives?

1. The general order is: opinion, fact:

  • a nice French car (not a French nice car)

(“Opinion” is what you think about something. “Fact” is what is definitely true about something.)

2. The normal order for fact adjectives is size, age, shape, colour, material, origin:

  • a big, old, square, black, wooden Chinese table

3. Determiners usually come first, even though they are fact adjectives:

  • articles (a, the)
  • possessives (my, your…)
  • demonstratives (this, that…)
  • quantifiers (some, any, few, many…)
  • numbers (one, two, three)

Here is an example with opinion and fact adjectives:

adjectives noun
opinion fact
age shape colour
two nice old round red candles

When we want to use two colour adjectives, we join them with “and”:

  • Many newspapers are black and white.
  • She was wearing a long, blue and yellow dress.

In Java there are a multitude of myths and legends. The Sudanese in particular have some fascinating legends and none more fascinating that of Dewi Sri.

We have all seen the shrines dedicated to Dewi Sri in the padi fields on Bali as we have travelled through the island. If one wonders about the beginning of padi and how the earth was first organized then the Sundanese have all the stories. One of the myths that is very well known by the Sundanese is Nyi Pohaci Sanghiang Sri. This story about Dewi Sri is written in Wawacan Sulanjana:


Once upon a time in the heavens the Batara Guru commanded all the gods and goddesses to contribute their power in order to build a new palace. Anybody who disobeyed this commandment would lose his or her head.

Upon hearing the Batara Guru’’s commandment, one of the gods, Anta, was very anxious. He didn’t have arms or legs and he wasn’t sure how he could possibly do the job. Anta was shaped as a snake and he couldn’t work. He sought advice from one of his friends but unfortunately his friend was also confused by Anta’s bad luck. Anta became very upset and cried.

As he was crying three teardrops fell to the ground.

Amazingly, after touching the ground those teardrops became three eggs. His friend advised him to offer those eggs to the Batara Guru hoping that he would give a fair judgement. With the three eggs in his mouth Anta went to the Batara Guru‘s palace. On the way there he was approached by a black bird who asked him a question. He couldn’t answer because of the eggs in his mouth but the bird thought that Anta was being arrogant. It became furious and began to attack Anta and as a result one egg was shattered. Anta quickly tried to hide in the bushes but the bird was waiting for him.The second attack left Anta with only one egg to offer to the Batara Guru.

Finally he arrived at the palace and offered his teardrop (in the shape of an egg) to the Batara Guru. The offer was accepted and the Batara Guru asked him to nest the egg until it hatched. Miraculously the egg hatched into a very beautiful girl. He gave the baby girl to the Batara Guru and his wife.Nyi Pohi Sanghian Sri was her name and she grew up into a beautiful princess becoming more and more beautiful as the days passed by.

As her beauty grew every man who saw her became attracted to her. Even her stepfather the Batara Guru started to feel an attraction toward her.

Seeing the Batara Guru‘s new attitude toward Nyi Pohaci, all the gods became so worried about the situation that they conspired to separate Nyi Pohaci and the Batara Guru.To keep the peace in the heavens and to maintain Nyi Pohaci‘s good name, all the gods planned for her death. She was poisoned and her body buried on earth in a hidden place.

But the graveyard was to hold a strange sign, for at the time of her burial, up grew a very useful plant that would forever benefit all human beings.

From her eyes grew the plant that is called padi (rice paddy).

Capitalize this!

  1. The first word of every sentence.
  2. The first-person singular pronoun, I.
  3. The first, last, and important words in a title. (The concept “important words” usually does not include articles, short prepositions (which means you might want to capitalize “towards” or “between,” say), the “to” of an infinitive, and coordinating conjunctions. This is not true in APA Reference lists (where we capitalize only the first word), nor is it necessarily true for titles in other languages. Also, on book jackets, aesthetic considerations will sometimes override the rules.)
  4. Proper nouns
  • Specific persons and things: George W. Bush, the White House, General Motors Corporation.
  • Specific geographical locations: Hartford, Connecticut, Africa, Forest Park Zoo, Lake Erie, the Northeast, the Southend. However, we do not capitalize compass directions or locations that aren’t being used as names: the north side of the city; we’re leaving the Northwest and heading south this winter. When we combine proper nouns, we capitalize attributive words when they precede place-names, as in Lakes Erie and Ontario, but the opposite happens when the order is reversed: the Appalachian and Adirondack mountains. When a term is used descriptively, as opposed to being an actual part of a proper noun, do not capitalize it, as in “The California deserts do not get as hot as the Sahara Desert.”
  • Names of celestial bodies: Mars, Saturn, the Milky Way. Do not, howver, capitalize earth, moon, sun, except when those names appear in a context in which other (capitalized) celestial bodies are mentioned. “I like it here on earth,” but “It is further from Earth to Mars than it is from Mercury to the Sun.
  • Names of newspapers and journals. Do not, however, capitalize the word the, even when it is part of the newspaper’s title: the Hartford Courant.
  • Days of the week, months, holidays. Do not, however, capitalize the names of seasons (spring, summer, fall, autumn, winter). “Next winter, we’re traveling south; by spring, we’ll be back up north.”
  • Historical events: World War I, the Renaissance, the Crusades.
  • Races, nationalities, languages: Swedes, Swedish, African American, Jewish, French, Native American. (Most writers do not capitalize whites, blacks.)
  • Names of religions and religious terms: God, Christ, Allah, Buddha, Christianity, Christians, Judaism, Jews, Islam, Muslims.
  • Names of courses: Economics, Biology 101. (However, we would write: “I’m taking courses in biology and earth science this summer.”)
  • Brand names: Tide, Maytag, Chevrolet.
  1. Names of relationships only when they are a part of or a substitute for a person’s name. (Often this means that when there is a modifier, such as a possessive pronoun, in front of such a word, we do not capitalize it.)
  • Let’s go visit Grandmother today. Let’s go visit my grandmother today.
  • I remember Uncle Arthur. I remember my Uncle Arthur. My uncle is unforgettable.

This also means that we don’t normally capitalize the name of a “vocative” or term of endearment:

  • Can you get the paper for me, hon?
  • Drop the gun, sweetie. I didn’t mean it.

Capitalizing People’s Titles
and the Names of Political Entities

One of the most frequently asked questions about capitalization is whether or not to capitalize people’s job titles or the names of political or quasi-political entities. Most writing manuals nowadays seem to align themselves with the tendency in journalistic circles: less is better. When a title appears as part of a person’s name, usually before the name, it is capitalized: Professor Farbman (or Professor of Physics Herschel Farbman), Mayor Perez, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. On the other hand, when the title appears after the name, it is not capitalized: Herschel Farbman, professor of history; Eddie Perez, mayor of the city of Hartford; Juan Carlos, king of Spain. Although we don’t capitalize “professor of history” after the individual’s name, we would capitalize department and program names when they are used in full*: “He worked in the Department of Behavioral Sciences before he started to teach physics.” (We do not capitalize majors or academic disciplines unless they refer to a language, ethnic group, or geographical entity: Roundbottom is an economics major, but he loves his courses in French and East European studies.)

The capitalization of words that refer to institutions or governmental agencies, etc. can well depend on who is doing the writing and where or from what perspective. For instance, if I were writing for the city of Hartford, doing work on its charter or preparing an in-house document on appropriate office decor, I could capitalize the word City in order to distinguish between this city and other cities. “The City has a long tradition of individual freedom in selecting wallpapers.” If I were writing for the College of Wooster’s public relations staff, I could write about the College’s new policy on course withdrawal. On the other hand, if I were writing for a newspaper outside these institutions, I would not capitalize those words. “The city has revamped its entire system of government.” “The college has changed its policy many times.”

We don’t capitalize words such as city, state, federal, national, etc. when those words are used as modifiers “There are federal regulations about the relationship of city and state governments. Even as nouns, these words do not need to be capitalized: “The city of New York is in the state of New York” (but it’s New York City). Commonly accepted designations for geographical areas can be capitalized: the Near East, the American South, the North End (of Hartford), Boston’s Back Bay, the Wild West. Directions are not capitalized unless they become part of the more or less official title of a geographical entity: “He moved from south Texas to South Africa.”

Capitalization in E-Mail

For some reason, some writers feel that e-mail should duplicate the look and feel of ancient telegraph messages, and their capitals go the way of the windmill or they go to the opposite extreme and capitalize EVERYTHING. That’s nonsense. Proper and restrained capitalization simply makes things easier to read (unless something is capitalized in error, and then it slows things down). Without the little tails and leaders we get in a nice mixture of upper- and lower-case text, words lose their familiar touch and feel. Text written in ALL CAPS is extremely difficult to read and some people regard it as unseemly and rude, like SHOUTING at someone

close at hand. Restrain your use of ALL CAPS in e-mail to solitary words that need further emphasis (or, better yet, use italics or underlining for that purpose, if your e-mail client provides for that treatment).

Words Associated with the Internet

There is considerable debate, still, about how to capitalize words associated with the Internet. Most dictionaries are capitalizing Internet, Web, and associated words such as World Wide Web (usually shortened to Web), Web page, Web site, etc., but the publications of some corporations, such as Microsoft, seem to be leaning away from such capitalization. The Yale Style Manual recommends capitalization. The words e-mail and online are not capitalized. The Guide to Grammar and Writing is a monument to inconsistency on this issue.

The most important guiding principle in all such matters is consistency within a document and consistency within an office or institution. Probably the most thorough and most often relied upon guide to capitalization is the Chicago Manual of Style, but the Gregg Reference Manual is also highly recommended.

*We acknowledge a debt to “A Guide to Wesleyan Style,” a publication of the Office of Publications of Wesleyan University.

Capitalization and Punctuation : Fun With Grammar

Poetic License

Below are two poems about the earth by American poets Victor Hernandez Cruz and e e cummings. Both poets have felt free to ignore standard capitalization and punctuation rules in order to emphasize other aspects of language. The point of this game is to see what happens when you put the poems into standard sentence form.

Victor Hernandez Cruz’s poetry often mixes Spanish and English. In this poem, he lines up one language opposite the other. Choose one of the columns, depending on which language you prefer to play with.

Cruz has used all capital letters and no punctuation in his poem. Write the poem in sentence form, capitalizing only those words that need it and punctuating for standard sentences. Look for four sentences.

If you can, compare the sentences in the two different languages. Is the punctuation different? Discuss the images and the ideas in the poem with other students. It may help to decide who is being addressed with the word “you” in the poem’s sixth line.

sion ción

some punctuation in the following poem, he has done so in an unusual way, and he has left out other punctuation marks that would help readers see the sentence structure in the poem.

Write the poem as three sentences with standard capitalization and punctuation.

Is the poem easier to understand in sentence form? Discuss the images and the ideas in the poem with other students. What are the advantages of the form that e e cummings used? What are the advantages of the sentence form?

O sweet spontaneous
earth how often have

fingers of
prurient philosophers pinched

, has the naughty thumb
of science prodded

beauty  . how
often have religions taken
thee upon their scraggy knees
squeezing and

buffeting thee that thou mightest conceive
to the incomparable
couch of death thy

thou answeres

them only withspring)


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