Nominal Adjectives

What are Nominal Adjectives?

Nominal adjectives are adjectives used in nominalizations, which focus on abstract concepts and general ideas such as goodness, politeness, and justice. They often have a nominal form while possessing qualities typically associated with an adjective; this means nominal adjectives have the same meaning as other words in a nominalization but bring a more vivid quality to the idea. Nominal adjectives can be quite useful when trying to express an idea or concept without sounding too abstract, giving your writing a more vivid tone.

For example, one may say “She is strong,” to show physical strength, but one could just as easily opt for nominal adjectives like “She has strength” or “She demonstrates fortitude.”

In addition, nominal adjectives can help create cohesion within the text by adding related elements back into the conversation that had been forgotten earlier on. Overall, nominal adjectives are an important tool for writers who want to add depth and nuance to their writing.

Nominal Adjectives Rules

Learning these four critical rules when using Nominal Adjectives will help communication become clearer and easier.

Equal weightAdjectives should be of equal weight or importance. For example, you wouldn’t say “a very big and large house.”
Same FormAdjectives should be in the same form. For example, you wouldn’t say “a very big and large houses.”
Same CategoryAdjectives should be in the same category. For example, you wouldn’t say “a very cold and hot day.”
PlacementIf compound adjectives are made up of an adjective and a noun, the order usually goes adjective + noun. For example, you would say “a world-renowned chef,” not “a renowned world chef.”
Nominal Adjectives Rules and Explanations Table
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Examples of Nominal Adjectives

Nominal adjectives are a type of adjective used to convey nominal characteristics. They describe an individual’s status or characteristic in terms of a group, title, or classification.

For example, nominal adjectives can include words such as:

  • ‘Veteran’ for someone who has served in the military,
  • ‘Doctor’ for a medical professional, or
  • ‘Manager’ for someone who is responsible for overseeing a specific department within an organization.

Additionally, nominal adjectives can also refer to age categories including ‘teenager’ or ‘elderly’, nationalities like ‘German’ and job descriptions such as ‘musician’. Whether referring to a person’s present occupation or their past feat, nominal adjectives can be an effective way to communicate essential information about them concisely.

Nominal Adjectives Exercises with Answers


  • “The _ balloon rose beyond the clouds.”
  • “The _ vase was cleaned up and mended.”
  • “Two _ cars drove down the highway.”
  • “An _ chemistry textbook is the best thing for you.”
  • “A _ victory yields the best rewards.”


  • “The red balloon rose beyond the clouds.”
  • “The broken vase was cleaned up and mended.”
  • “Two blue cars drove down the highway.”
  • “An applied chemistry textbook is the best thing for you.”
  • “A hard-fought victory yields the best rewards.”

Nominal Adjectives List

FinancialRelating to money or funds.
AstronomicalVery large or high.
EgotisticalExcessively conceited or self-centered.
EnvironmentalRelating to the natural surroundings.
HistoricalConnected with history or past events.
SpiritualRelating to the human soul or spirit.
EmotionalArousing strong feelings.
Nominal Adjectives List Table
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Advice for ESL Students & English Language Learners

As an ESL student or English language learner, nominal adjectives can be a confusing part of speech. Nominal adjectives stand between nouns and adjectives, further blurring characterizations of words usually on the opposite ends of a spectrum.

When confronted with nominal adjectives, it is important to not give up. Taking the time to picture how nominal adjectives might look when used in real life can help bring clarity and understanding. Remember that nominal adjectives often do not take on any formative plural (exception: nominal adjective “others”), meaning it is impossible to mistake a singular nominal adjective for a plural noun, no matter what its form may appear as in writing.

With practice and commitment, nominal adjectives can become an invaluable tool for ESL students and English language learners alike. Additionally, it is important for learners to properly understand Limiting Adjectives and Denominal Adjectives.

Common Mistakes Made by English Learners

One of the most common mistakes made by English learners involves nominal adjectives – words such as unique, extreme, perfect, ideal, comparative and subliminal.

Learning to use these words correctly is essential for writing with fluency in English. In a nominal adjective phrase, the nominal adjective must be placed before the noun it is describing; for example: “Extreme traffic” or “Unique circumstances”. A nominal adjective ties two separate words together to create more descriptive and vivid phrasing. Practicing nominal adjectives can give English learners more confidence in how they express themselves in their native language.

Common Mistakes:

1. Incorrect Tense

Why it Happens

Not having a firm grasp on correct tense usage can confuse your statements. This can cause you to use the wrong adjectives and misconstrue your message.

Correct Use

When speaking in the present simple tense, you would use an adjective that reflects current habits and routines. Keep tense in mind when selecting your adjectives.

2. Lack of Compounds

Why it Happens

The first mistake is leaving out compound adjectives when needed. Failing to use these compound phrases can lead others to misinterpret what you are trying to express.

Correct Use

Compound adjectives join two words to accurately describe something – for example, ‘a well-known actress’ or a ‘tidy little package’.

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3. Inconsistency

Why it Happens

People forget how they described something before and change the context in a contradictory manner. This confuses the reader.

Correct Use

Be sure that your adjectives remain consistent throughout your writing. There should be no sudden shifts from ‘dark brown’ to ‘light tan’ unless there was a clear shift in the thing being described.

4. Incorrect Usage

Why it Happens

You don’t know which adjectives to use, so you use too many and it confuses the statement.

Correct Use

Using too many adjectives can make your writing sound monotonous and can also lead to viewers losing interest. Therefore it is important to focus on expressing yourself clearly and effectively with them.

Tips to Avoid Common Mistakes:

One of the most common mistakes people make in their writing is confusing nominal adjectives for verbs. Nominal adjectives are descriptive words that describe the noun, such as “beautiful,” “intriguing,” or “lucrative.”

Nominal adjectives describe objects, places, people and ideas, but do not act upon them. Verbs on the other hand, express action and can be used to tell a story. People often mistake nominal adjectives for verbs because of how closely they resemble each other.

It is important to get these two parts of speech straight in order to ensure accuracy in your writing. Trying to identify these types of adjectives versus verbs can help you avoid this common grammar mistake. With some practice and patience, nominal adjective confusion won’t hinder your writing abilities any longer!

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Learning Nominal Adjectives Strategies and Best Practices

Learning nominal adjectives can be a tricky task for non-native English speakers. These words are often used to make compound nouns, so one effective strategy is to spend some time studying noun-adjective combinations.

  • Looking at nominal adjective combinations in example sentences can help reinforce the correct structure and usage of these compounds.
  • Additionally, practicing building nominal adjective phrases on your own by combining nouns with other descriptive words such as adverbs and adjectives is a great way to gain confidence and proficiency.
  • Finally, don’t forget the importance of continual review. You may find it helpful to set aside a few minutes each day for reviewing nominal adjectives – this will prevent them from slipping through the cracks and ensure that you can apply these types of adjectives whenever they are necessary.

Keep reading for more useful tips:

Tip 1: Study a List

Why it helps

Learning the various forms and using them properly in speaking and writing is easier than it seems with daily practice. A list can simplify this process and make it seem less daunting.

Daily Life Example

The best way to learn to use adjectives correctly is to study a list of adjectives and their usages, and then practice writing sentences with them.

Tip 2: Practice Reading

Why it helps

Exposing yourself to adjectives hidden between other words can help you identify them faster and with more accuracy.

Daily Life Example

To ensure that you understand how frequently an adjective should be used it’s important to practice reading with them as well, so the meanings become clear. So keep a book of your choice on hand and highlight every adjective you come across.

Tip 3: Everyday Conversations

Why it helps

By applying the adjectives exercise to everyday conversations, you’ll find these words easy to remember and use in the near future.

Daily Life Example

Take your time when speaking to people. Take note of the adjectives they use, and try and repeat them back in different contexts. You can also do this from the comfort of your home by recording yourself or using an AI assistant.

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Nominal Adjectives Frequently Asked Questions

According to the Cambridge University Press Nominal adjectives are a type of adjective derived from nouns. They are created by adding suffixes like “-able” or “-ful”. For example, the nominal adjective “enjoyable” is formed from the noun “enjoy”, while “respectful” is formed from the noun “respect”.

Nominal adjectives are sometimes used in place of adverbs. Instead of saying he ran quickly, you could say he ran speedfully. Although nominal adjectives are more commonly used for describing emotion or quality, they can be used for other purposes too. With nominal adjectives, writers can add complexity and style to their writing.

According to the Cambridge University Press, Nominal use is a way to describe a situation with nominal adjectives. It’s often used to refer to situations that appear to be minor or insignificant, for example, we might refer to an issue as being of nominal importance if it does not involve any major complications or risks.

However, nominal usage can also be applied when talking about success in which case it implies having met the required results without having outstanding skill or effort.

Understanding nominal use helps us have a better sense of how different entities interact and what they are capable of achieving.

Unlike denominal adjectives, these are words that describe proper nouns or pronouns. They include such terms as:
Nominal adjectives add character to language and can make descriptions pop off the page. They are a great way to express intense emotion or help paint a more precise picture of something for readers.
Considering proper adjectives when working on written projects is sure to make them stand out from the crowd.

There are 8 main types of adjectives that can be used to describe nouns or pronouns in the English language. However, this list can expand into sub-categories ranging from superlative adjectives to anaphoric adjectives. 

First, nominal adjectives provide us with the most general information possible: they describe what something is, like “blue”/”shocking”/”furry”.
Possessive adjectives let us know who owns something; these adjectives usually come before a noun, like “my/your/their”.
Descriptive adjectives give in-depth information about a person or thing; these are often called descriptive words and express qualities of feeling, color and size – such as “hollow/lonely/glittery”.

Interrogative adjectives pose a question about a word’s identity, like “which/whose/what”, and demonstrative adjectives identify which one of the group is being referred to – for example, “this/that/these”.

Lastly, exclamatory adjectives show strong emotion when describing things – think of phrases like “adorable!” and “incredible!”.
More types of adjectival modifications include: predicative adjectives, attributive adjectives, pre-nominal adjectives, ambiguous adjectives, superlative adjectives, proper adjectives, post-nominal adjectives, frequent adjectives, participial adjectives, substantive adjectives, anaphoric adjectives.

According to the Oxford University Press, there are many types of noun components in the English language, including: attributive nouns, frequent nouns, component nouns, appositive nouns, with some holding the capacity of adjectives. 

Many people would be surprised to learn that some English words can actually serve as both a noun (in proper noun, head noun, and any other category of nouns form) and an adjective, also known as an adjectival noun.

This phenomenon is known to linguistic scholars as nominal adjectives, or nominalization. They are words that have been adapted from their original purpose as verbs or adverbs, and are now commonly used in polite conversation.

Examples of nominal comparative adjectives include the words ‘action’ and ‘reaction,’ both of which can be used to refer to physical activities, but also describe the way someone may respond to a given situation. 

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