Position of Adjectives

Adjectives nearly always appear immediately before the noun or noun phrase that they modify. Sometimes they appear in a string of adjectives, and when they do, they appear in a set order according to category.

And there are certain adjectives that, in combination with certain words, are always “post positive” (coming after the thing they modify):

Stage- and individual-level adjectives

Some adjectives in English exhibit a slight change in meaning when used post-positively. Consider the following examples.

(1) Every visible star is named after a famous astronomer.

(2) Every star visible is named after a famous astronomer.

The post-positive in (2) can only have a stage-level reading, whereas the adjective in (1) can have either reading. The stage-level reading is one which talks about stars which are visible at the moment (given cloud-cover, etc.). The individual-level reading refers to the inherent property of the star, regardless of current conditions. (Star X is visible to the naked eye; however, you can’t see it at the moment because it’s cloudy.)

Attributive Adjective

An adjective that usually comes before the noun it modifies without a linking verb.


  • He is a good boy.
  • She is an intelligent girl.

Predicate Adjective

Predicate adjectives modifies the subject of the sentence. In the sentence “The flowers are blue,” the subject is “the flowers.” In this example, “blue” is what modifies the subject, “the flowers,” and is connected to the subject by what is known as a linking verb.

What Is the Effect of a Predicate Adjective?

Having predicate adjectives means that we can describe subjects without putting the adjectives before him. Instead of having to say, “The good boy” followed by a verb, we can simply say, “the boy is good.” In this sentence, we can identify that “the boy” is the subject, “is” is the linking verb, and “good” is the predicate adjective. “Good” effectively renames the subject of the sentence.

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