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SYNTACTIC AND SEMANTIC FEATURES OF ENGLISH DESCRIPTIVE ADJECTIVES IN SOME ENGLISH WORKS WITH REFERENCE TO THEIR VIETNAMESE EQUIVALENTS

MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING
HANOI OPEN UNIVERSITY

M.A Thesis
Field: English Language
Code: 8220201

SYNTACTIC AND SEMANTIC FEATURES
OF ENGLISH DESCRIPTIVE ADJECTIVES IN SOME ENGLISH
WORKS WITH REFERENCE TO THEIR VIETNAMESE
EQUIVALENTS

(ĐẶC ĐIỂM CÚ PHÁP VÀ NGỮ NGHĨA CỦA TÍNH TỪ MIÊU TẢ
TRONG MỘT SỐ TÁC PHẨM VĂN HỌC ANH VÀ LIÊN HỆ VỚI TƯƠNG
ĐƯƠNG TRONG TIẾNG VIỆT)

NGUYỄN THỊ THU HÀ

Hanoi, 2018



MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING
HANOI OPEN UNIVERSITY

M.A Thesis
Field: English Language
Code: 8220201
SYNTACTIC AND SEMANTIC FEATURES
OF ENGLISH DESCRIPTIVE ADJECTIVES IN SOME ENGLISH
WORKS WITH REFERENCE TO THEIR VIETNAMESE
EQUIVALENTS

(ĐẶC ĐIỂM CÚ PHÁP VÀ NGỮ NGHĨA CỦA TÍNH TỪ MIÊU TẢ
TRONG MỘT SỐ TÁC PHẨM VĂN HỌC ANH VÀ LIÊN HỆ VỚI TƯƠNG
ĐƯƠNG TRONG TIẾNG VIỆT)
NGUYỄN THỊ THU HÀ
Supervisor: Dr. PHẠM THỊ TUYẾT HƯƠNG

Hanoi, 2018


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STATEMENT OF AUTHORSHIP
I hereby certify that the thesis entitled “Syntactic and sematic features of English
descriptive Adjectives in some English works with reference to their Vietnamese
equivalents” (Đặc điểm cú pháp và ngữ nghĩa của tính từ miêu tả trong một số tác
phẩm văn học Anh và liên hệ tương đương trong Tiếng Việt) submitted in partial
fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master in English Language.
Except where the reference is indicated, no other person’s work has been used
without due acknowledgement in the text of the thesis.
Ha Noi, 2018

Nguyen Thi Thu Ha

Approved by
SUPERVISOR

Dr. Pham Thi Tuyet Huong

Date: 26/12/2018




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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

On the completion of this thesis, I wish to express my deepest gratitude to my
supervisor, Dr. Pham Thi Tuyet Huong, who gave me benefit of her wisdom and her
expert knowledge as well as her constant encouragement from the beginning stage
of working out the research proposal to the final stage of writing up the thesis.
Without her critical comments and valuable suggestions this study could not have
been completed.
I would like to express my appreciation to all my teachers at the Department
of Post Graduate Studies, Hanoi Open University for their teaching and very helpful
comments on earlier versions of the study.
My thanks also go to my friends, who gave me documents and encouraged
me much while the work was in process.
I am deeply grateful to students and my teacher, my colleague, Tran Dang
Ninh high school. Without their help, my work would not be possible.
Last but not least, I am greatly indebted to my beloved family who always
stands by and helps me overcome all the difficulties in studying and fulfil of this
academic work.


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LIST OF TABLES AND FIGURES

Table: 2.1. Types of adjective ................................................................................... 11
Table 2.2. Types of adjectives and their order .......................................................... 25
Table 3.1. Result of theory of descriptive adjectives ................................................ 36
Diagram 3.1: Errors made by students when using order of descriptive adjectives . 36
Diagram 3.2: Errors made by students when using descriptive adjectives ............... 37
Diagram 4.1. Syntactic features of descriptive adjectives in Vietnamese ................ 48


iv

TABLE OF CONTENTS
STATEMENT OF AUTHORSHIP .......................................................................... i
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ........................................................................................ii
LIST OF TABLES AND FIGURES ...................................................................... iii
TABLE OF CONTENTS ......................................................................................... iv
ABSTRACT .............................................................................................................vii
Chapter 1: INTRODUCTION ................................................................................ 1
1.1 Rationale for the study ...................................................................................................... 1
1.2 Aims of the study ................................................................................................................. 2
1.3. Objectives of the study ..................................................................................................... 2
1.4. Research questions ............................................................................................................. 3
1.5. Methods of the study ......................................................................................................... 3
1.6. Scope of the study ............................................................................................................... 3
1.7. Significance of the study .................................................................................................. 3
1.8. Design of the study ............................................................................................................. 4
CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW ................................................................ 6
2.1. Previous studies ................................................................................................................... 6
2.2. An overview of adjectives in English .......................................................................... 8
2.2.1. Definitions of adjective in English ............................................................................ 9
2.2.2. Syntactic features of English Adjectives .............................................................. 11
2.2.3. Semantic functions of English adjectives ............................................................. 14
2.2.4. Classification of adjectives ........................................................................................ 18
2.4.5. Placement and order of adjectives.......................................................................... 21
2.2.6. English Descriptive Adjectives................................................................................. 22
2.3. Vietnamese adjectives ..................................................................................................... 25
2.3.1 Definition of Vietnamese adjectives ........................................................................ 25
2.3.2. Features of Vietnamese adjectives .......................................................................... 26
2.5 Summary of the chapter ................................................................................................. 32
Chapter 3: METHODOLOGY .............................................................................. 33
3.1. Subjects ................................................................................................................................ 33
3.1.1. Sample collection........................................................................................................... 33
3.1.2. Participants ..................................................................................................................... 33
3.2 Instruments .......................................................................................................................... 33
3.3 Procedure.............................................................................................................................. 35


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3.3.1. Data collection procedure .......................................................................................... 35
3.3.2. Questionnaires ............................................................................................................... 35
3.4. Statistical Analysis ........................................................................................................... 36
3.5 Summary of this chapter ................................................................................................ 38
Chapter 4: SYTACTIC AND SEMANTIC FEATURES OF ENGLISH
DESCRIPTIVE ADJECTIVES IN ENGLISH AND AMERICAN WORKS
WITH REFERENCE TO THEIR VIETNAMESE EQUIVALENTS ............... 39
4.1. Syntactic and semantic features of descriptive adjectives in English ........... 39
4.1.1.1. Syntactic features of descriptive adjective in English ................................. 39
4.1.1.1. Descriptive adjectives as compound adjectives .............................................. 39
4.1.1.2. After adverbs of degree ........................................................................................... 40
4.1.1.3. Using in comparison form ...................................................................................... 41
4.1.1.4. Before a noun .............................................................................................................. 43
4.1.1.5. Following some stative verbs................................................................................. 44
4.1.6. Function of a noun ........................................................................................................ 45
4.1.1.7. Using in inverted sentences to emphasize characteristics of nouns or
subjects in sentences ................................................................................................................ 45
4.1.1.8. Using in compound adjectives expressing the determination of nouns 46
4.1.2. Semantic features of descriptive adjectives in English ................................... 47
4.1.2.1. Using in comparison structures expressing the reference, the changes of
situations ...................................................................................................................................... 47
4.1.2.2. Expressing the contrast ........................................................................................... 48
4.2. Syntactic and semantic features of descriptive adjectives in Vietnamese ... 49
4.2.1. Descriptive adjectives are often used after a noun ........................................... 49
4.2.2. Using before a verb ..................................................................................................... 49
4.2.4. Before a noun.................................................................................................................. 50
4.2.5. Being used in comparison form. .............................................................................. 51
4.3 Semantic features of descriptive adjectives in Vietnamese ................................ 52
4.4. Similarities and differences of the syntactic features of descriptive in
English and Vietnamese ......................................................................................................... 53
4.4.1. Similarities of the syntactic features of descriptive adjectives in English
and Vietnamese.......................................................................................................................... 53
4.4.2. Differences of the syntactic features of descriptive adjectives in English
and Vietnamese.......................................................................................................................... 54


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4.5. Similarities and differences of the semantic features of descriptive in
English and Vietnamese ......................................................................................................... 55
4.5.1 Similarities of the semantic features of descriptive in English and
Vietnamese. ................................................................................................................................. 55
4.5.2 Differences of the semantic features of descriptive adjectives in English
and Vietnamese.......................................................................................................................... 56
4.6. Errors and causes of committing errors by learners of English when using
descriptive adjectives in English and Vietnamese ........................................................ 56
4.6.1. Common errors ............................................................................................................. 57
4.7. Implication of the study ................................................................................................. 59
4.8. Summary ............................................................................................................................. 60
CHAPER 5: CONCLUSION ................................................................................. 62
5.1. Summary of findings ....................................................................................................... 62
5.2. Concluding remarks ........................................................................................................ 62
5.3. Recommendation for Further study ......................................................................... 64
Appendix 1 ............................................................................................................... 65
Appendix 2 ................................................................................................................ 69
REFERENCES ........................................................................................................ 70


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ABSTRACT

Parts of speech play important role in using English Grammar, widely used in
English and Vietnamese both in daily conversations and literary works. Adjective is
an interesting category of English Grammar. It is used in many contexts to describe
the characteristic, quality, shape, things or people…However, the use of the
syntactic and semantic functions of adjectives sometimes cause learners of English
to be confused and this theme has not been adequately dealt with in some previous
studies. Moreover, adjectives are used regularly and naturally in everyday
communication. Being interested in adjectives, I choose the thesis with title
Syntactic and semantic features of English descriptive Adjectives in some
English works with reference to their Vietnamese equivalents
On the other hand, reading is one of effective study methods. There are a lot of
English learners who have problems with the comprehension of English and books,
especially books in literature, because of the meanings of words in these books,
specially, English descriptive adjectives. In order to help learners to have a better
understanding of the use of descriptive adjectives, this study will analyze sentences
with descriptive adjectives in some Charles Dickens’ and Hans Christian
Andersen’s stories to point out similarities and differences between English and
Vietnamese descriptive adjectives in syntactic and semantic features. The findings
of the thesis illustrate some implications for teachers, learners of English and
translators from the use of English descriptive adjectives. Hopefully, the study may
help learners, teachers, and translators of English avoid difficulties in using English
descriptive adjectives. Numerous descriptive adjectives in English and stories have
been analyzed cautiously by applying the qualitative approach; descriptive and
contrastive methods are followed to achieve the set objectives.


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Chapter 1: INTRODUCTION
1.1 Rationale for the study
Language holds a crucial role in communication among people and English is
considered an international language and used as means of communication in
business, technology, scientific research, medicine, politics, etc. As a result, a need
for learning English as a second or foreign language is increasing in many countries
including Vietnam where English is learned by both very small children and retired
people and becomes a compulsory subject at all levels. “ For the first time in the
country’s many thousand – year- long history, English emerged as the most
important foreign language, which was chosen by most students’ (2007).
Additionally, “More English language books became available in the country and a
greater desire for specialized study of English became apparent as more Vietnamese
desired these language skills for specific work environment’’ (Shapiro, 1995) . Anh
states that the number of students choosing to learn English to complete the
compulsory

foreign

language

component

in

the

curriculum

has

risen

overwhelmingly (as cited in Le, 2011).
Any language in the world serves the demand for communication of human
beings. However, each language has its origin, characteristics and values. English
and Vietnamese are two vastly different languages. Thus, in communication, we
have difficulties in expressing our ideas, especially in transferring meanings of
words from a language to another one, in our case from English to Vietnamese and
vice versa and especially when we want to describe characteristics of humans or
things. There are many problems in learning English as listening, speaking, reading,
writing, grammar, lexicology, etc. In grammar, the adjective is one of the essential
parts of speech to form a sentence. Adjectives are frequently used in daily life such
as describing people, things, objects, or expressing feelings, emotions, etc. English
adjectives are diversified in many forms, meanings as well as usage. It takes
learners quite a long time to understand grammar deeply, especially adjectives. It


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therefore seems that the semantic and syntactic functions of adjectives are still too
difficult for students. Moreover, there are a lot of kinds of adjective, such as:
Quantitative adjectives, demonstrative adjective, possessive adjectives, descriptive
adjectives.... It is not easy for English learners who learn English as a second
language to express something if they don’t understand the syntactic and semantic
features of adjectives, especially, the use of descriptive adjectives. In fact, most
learners often feel confused with adjectives when they are used in various contexts
since they fail to grasp the contextual meanings that are central to the interpretation
of meaning. There can be no denying that the general sense of one adjective can be
adjusted by virtue of contextual factor and each context can make certain aspects of
meaning vary interestingly. This is the reason why we would like to carry out this
thesis titled “Syntactic and semantic features of English descriptive adjectives in
some English works with reference to their Vietnamese equivalents.”
1.2 Aims of the study
With this study, the writer wants to make a general view on discriptive adjectives in
English and Vietnamese equivalents in some English works, focus on syntactic and
semantic features to find out the similarities and differences in English and
Vietnamese descriptive adjectives. The best methods for teaching and learning
English will be expected to find out in this reaseach.
1.3. Objectives of the study
To achieve the aims mentioned above, following objectives are looking forward to:
- To investigate the syntactic and semantic features of English descriptive adjectives
with reference to their Vietnamese equivalents
- To find out the similarities and differences between descriptive adjectives in
English and Vietnamese equivalents in term of syntactic and semantic features
- To propose some implications for teaching and learning English descriptive
adjectives at Tran Dang Ninh high school


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1.4. Research questions
1. What are the syntactic and semantic features of English descriptive adjectives?
2. What are the similarities and differences between English descriptive adjectives
and their Vietnamese equivalents?
3. What are the implications for teaching-learning English descriptive adjectives
and their Vietnamese equivalents in an effective way?
1.5. Methods of the study
In order to complete this study, some different research methods will be applied:
Firstly, the descriptive method is used to describe in details the syntactic and
semantic features of descriptive adjectives in English and Vietnamese equivalents
Secondly, the contractive analysis method is used to identify the similarities and
differences between English descriptive adjectives and their Vietnamese equivalents
in terms of syntactic and sematic features.
Thirdly, qualitative method is used to identify the relationship between syntactic
and semantic features of English descriptive adjectives with reference to their
Vietnamese equivalents from the novel “David Copperfield” by Charles Dickens
and some short stories by Hans Christian Andersen with a view to design a test to
find out the common errors made by students at Tran Dang Ninh high school when
using English descriptive adjectives.
1.6. Scope of the study
The study mainly focuses on syntactic and semantic features of English
descriptive adjectives to their Vietnamese equivalents to find out the similarities and
difference between them. Through some English Works and Vietnamese fairy tails,
syntactic and semantic features of descriptive adjectives will be found in 300
sentences that containing descriptive adjectives. This research will carry out a
survey in Tran Dang Ninh High School in Ung Hoa, Ha Noi with 60 students in
three classes of grade 10.
1.7. Significance of the study


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The analysis of syntactic and semantic features of English descriptive adjectives in
some English works, such as “David Copperfield” by Charles Dickens and stories
by Hans Christian Andersen, and Two Grim Brothers, etc… has provided a
profound and convincing explanation to manifest the viewpoints of the native
speakers more logically, vividly and clearly. The systematic contrastive analysis of
the language of the two communities has demonstrated the similarities and
differences between English and Vietnamese descriptive adjectives.
Practically, the results of this study can be applied to assist English learners in
general and students at Tran Dang Ninh high school in particular know how to
master descriptive adjectives properly in daily life, and especially avoid confusing
interferences in translating descriptive adjectives into Vietnamese. This study can
also help the learners and the teachers have the best method to teach and learn
English descriptive adjectives. Furthermore, other researchers and linguistics could
take it as a reliable reference to make further studies in this field.
1.8. Design of the study
The thesis consists of 5 chapters, excluding the appendixes and references:
Introduction, Literature review, Methodology, Syntactic and semantic features of
English descriptive adjectives in the novel “David Copperfield” by Dickens’s and
stories by Hans Christian Andersen with reference to their Vietnamese equivalents
and Conclusion.
Chapter 1 - “Introduction” a brief account of relevant information for carrying out
the study such as rationale for choosing the topic, aims, objectives, scope,
significance, and design of the study.
Chapter 2 - “Literature review”- presents overview of previous researchers related
to the thesis topic, the related concepts such as: definition of adjective in English,
classification based on the general syntactic and semantic features of adjectives.
Chapter 3: “Data and Methods”-This chapter will feature research methods,
participants and procedures of research


5

Chapter 4: “Syntactic and semantic features of English descriptive adjectives in
English works with reference to their Vietnamese equivalents”- describes and
analyses syntactic and semantic features of descriptive adjectives and finds out
similarities and differences of descriptive adjectives between two languages and
find out common errors made by English learners, proposes possible solutions for
teaching and learning descriptive adjectives.
Chapter 5: “Conclusion”- summaries the major findings above, concludes remark,
presents limitation of the study and provides some recommendations for further
research on this subject.
References and Appendices come at the end of the thesis


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CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1. Previous studies
Adjectives are very familiar to us in language in English Grammar and in daily
conversation. There have been studies about adjectives and their syntactic and
semantic functions in varied aspects and attracted the attention of both English and
Vietnamese researchers such as: Meja Kyto and Suzanne Ramaine (1996), Eatword
(1999), Frances Peck (2008), Nguyen Huu Quynh (1980), Le Bien (1999), Dinh Van
Duc (2001), Nguyen Van Thanh (2003), Luu Quy Khuong (2001), Diep Quang Ban
(2005). They have their own ways to describe adjectives. Generally, they focused on
the definition, classification, position, order and formation of adjectives. About
syntactic functions of adjectives, almost grammarians mention their functions as
predicative and attributive.
The prosperity of language in form and content not only has the beauty of language
but also deeply contributes to successful daily communications. Every language in
the world has large numbers of adjectives. Indeed, adjective takes an important role
in enriching language by its abundance and potentially descriptive qualities and
characteristics. In English, the adjective is multi-functional. It is used essentially to
describe an object but, in general, it is meant to enrich and clarify ideas and lead the
interlocutors to communicate eloquently. Being aware of the important role of
adjectives in daily communication in the society as well as teaching and learning
languages, many researchers have taken studies on adjectives in various fields such
as syntax, semantics and translation, etc…
In recent decades, the semantics aspects of English adjectives have become one of
the more focusing in studies of language use. So it said above that adjectives
introduce properties. Two kinds of facts suggest that adjectives also denote
properties. Firstly, as people have already seen, adjectives may provide the main
predicate in a sentence. Secondly, they often seen entailments from the attributive
form to the predicative form.


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More radically, Travis (1985, 1994 and 1997) has used judgments about the truth of
sentences containing color adjectives to argue against the view that sentences
determine truth conditions. Instead, according to him, the semantics value of a
sentence at most imposes some necessary conditions under which it may be true (as
well as conditions under which it may be used), but those conditions need not be
sufficient and the content of the sentence does not define a function from contexts
to truth.
Adjectives are also a matter of concern of many Vietnamese researchers. They are
Cao Xuân Hạo (1998), Đinh Văn Đức (1986), Nguyễn Tài Cẩn (1999), Nguyễn
Hữu Quỳnh (2001), Phạm Hồng Hải (2012), etc.
According to Đinh Văn Đức (1986) in Ngữ Pháp Tiếng Việt, “General speaking,
adjectives are the kind of words that show the characteristics of all the concepts that
can be expressed in noun and verbs”.
In Từ Loại Tiếng Việt (2002), Le Bien particularly describes adjectives in
Vietnamese. He defines adjective as a type of words having positive ability to create
other word. Next, he gives grammatical functions of adjective with attributive,
predicative, subject and combination to different types of word. Lastly, he points
out that there are two types of adjectives (This classification is of many Vietnamese
grammarians). He classifies the adjectives into nine types as following: Quality,
colors, characteristic, temperature, state, gender, relationship, age and origin. In
addition, he presents the comparison of Vietnamese adjectives with three levels the
same as English ones. The most important thing is he indicates that the adjectives
have three functions of attributive, predicative and subject (as a head of a noun
phrase) in comparison with those in European languages.
Diep Quang Ban in Ngữ Pháp Tiếng Việt (2015) begins this study with definition
of adjective and emphasizes the functions of main components in a phrase. He
classifies Vietnamese adjectives into two kinds that are quality adjectives and
relative adjectives. A new thing in his study is distinguishing between adjectives


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and verbs relating to state of mind, to sum up, Diep Quang ban focuses much on
classification of adjectives.
With Ngữ Pháp Tiếng Việt (2009) written by Nguyen Ly Kha, the features of
adjectives are described in detail. Firstly, she defines Vietnamese adjectives as a
major part of the speech denoting quality of nouns. Then she shows their ability to
combine with adjuncts. Different from Nguyen Van Thanh, she classifies it so
clearly and completely. According to her, Vietnamese adjectives are used as
attributive predicative, subject and verbless clause (adverbial).
We would have a comprehensive view on adjectives in Vietnamese with Cẩm Nang
Ngữ Pháp Tiếng Việt (2010) written by Tran Ngoc Dung. Firstly, he gives a simple
definition of adjective. Secondly, he represents types of adjectives and special
adjectives. Secondly, he represents types of adjectives in Vietnamese including
impartial adjectives, partial adjectives, semi-partial adjectives and special
adjectives. His classification is not like other authors. Then, He shows one new
thing in comparison to other Vietnamese grammarians, that is forms of adjective
consisting of dimple adjectives, compound adjectives and complex adjectives. In
addition, he describes the position of adjectives before and after a noun. His final
points out comparison of adjectives.
In Tiếng Việt 3 (2003), Hoang Thung points out that Vietnamese adjectives
function as subject, attributive and predicative. He continues describing adjective
with its conversation into nouns. In this study, he mentions adjectives generally.
It can be said that mentioned authors appear to have made good use of adjectival
characteristics in the hope of bringing about their semantic recognition profoundly.
Though linguist have written much on adjectives, and chiefly focused on their
meaning and use there so far has not been a specific study which is designed for
semantics features of range of descriptive adjectives. For these reasons, I have made
attempt to make an investigation into this matter.
2.2. An overview of adjectives in English


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2.2.1. Definitions of adjective in English
According to L. G. Alexander (1998, 106), a word is considered as an adjective
when it describes the person, thing,… which a noun refers to or describes the ideas
contained in the whole group of words.
However, as the opinions of Quirk et all, “we usually can not tell a word as an
adjective by looking at it in isolation because the form of a word doesn’t necessarily
indicate its syntactic function. Nor can we identify a word as an adjective merely
from its potentials for inflexion ” (1973,114). As for them, a word is commonly
considered an adjective if it has at least one of four criteria:
- It can freely occur in ATTRIBUTIVE function, i. e they can premodify a
noun, appearing between the determiner and the head of a noun phrase:
an oval face; a beautiful girl; the round table
- It can freely occur in PREDICATIVE function, i. e they can function as
subjective complement or as object complement:The girl is attractive; I guess
the girl attractive;
- They can be modified by the intensifier very. For example: The new house
is very large; She is very happy now.
- It can take COMPARATIVE and SUPERLATIVE forms. The comparison may
be by means of inflections (-er, -est), or by the addition of the
premodifiers more and most or called periphrastic. Let’s see the following
examples: Ho Chi Minh is the most wonderful city in Vietnam; Lan is more
charming than other classmates; The children are happier now. ( Quirk et al,
1973:115 )
- To sum up, adjective is one of four elements of open class items (noun,
adjective, adverb, verb) which belongs to part of speech in English grammar,
and adjectives are describing words expressing quality, quantity, size,
colour, characteristics, etc.
In The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, Adjectives are
characterized as expressions “that alter, clarify, or adjust the meaning contributions


10

of noun”, in order to allow for the expression of “finer gradations of meaning” than
are possible through the use of nouns alone (Huddleston and Pullum 2002, p.526).
At the general level adjectives gain this capability in virtue of two main
characteristics, one of which is semantic and syntactic. One semantic side, they
introduce properties (Whether they actually denote properties is a question we will
address in detail below.). On the syntactic side, they are able to function as
modifiers, and so may (with some restrictions) combine recursively with nouns. The
result of this combination is a new property which is typically (though not always)
true of a subset of the entities that the original properties are true of, thereby
providing a “finer gradation meaning” than is possible using the noun alone. This
simple picture hides many important and interesting complexities, however, which
provide insights on several topics of central interest to both linguists and
philosophers, include: vagueness, contextualism, relative, compositionality, and the
semantic analysis of significant phenomena such as modality.
Adjective is one of the most common catalogues of the English words. Adjectives
can simply be defined by Richard et al (1993) as ‘a word that describes a noun, or
referred to more specific notion as ‘a word that describes the thing, quality, state or
action which a noun refers to’.
An adjective is a part of speech which describes, identifies, or qualifies a noun or
pronoun. So basically, the main function of an adjective is to modify a noun or a
pronoun so that it will be become more specific and interesting. Instead of just one
word, a group of words is called an adjective clause.
So the English adjective is various. They typically denote properties- most centrally
in the domains of opinion, size, age, and origin. Hence, the learners have many
choices using adjectives based on their purposes.
Order

Purposes

Example

1

Size

It’s a small house

2

Shape

It’s a square house

3

Color

It’s a pink house


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4

origin

It’s an USA apple

5

material

It’s a square house

6

Opinion

It’s a beautiful house

7

Observation

It’s a broken pen

8

purpose

It’s is a coffee table

9

Age

It’s an old house
Table: 2.1. Types of adjective

In The Little, Brown Handbook (2011:315), an adjective modifies a noun or
pronoun by providing descriptive or specific detail. Unlike adverbs, adjectives do
not modify verbs, other adjectives, or adverbs. Adjectives usually precede the noun
or pronoun they modify. Adjectives do not have to agree in number or gender with
the nouns they describe. Adjectives answer the following questions: What kind?
How many? or Which ones?
For example:
-Tom bought a used car. (used describes what kind of car Tom bought.)
-Sally baked ten pies for the school bake sale. (ten tells how many pies Sally
baked.)
-Bob climbed that tree in the backyard. (that specifies which tree Bob climbed.)
2.2.2. Syntactic features of English Adjectives
Adjectives may have different functions in the sentence. The most common are
those of an attribute or a predicative. The attributes (pre-modifying and postmodifying) may be closely attached to their head-words (a good boy, the delegates
present), or they may be loose (detached) (Clever and ambitious, he schemed as
well as he could). In the first case the adjective forms a group with the noun it
modifies; in the second case the adjective forms a sense-group separate from the
head-word and the other parts of the sentence. A detached attribute is therefore
separated by a comma from its head-word if it adjoins it, or from other parts of the
sentence if it is distant from the head-word. As predicates, adjectives may form a
part of a compound nominal or double predicate (he was alone, the window was


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open. Old Jolyon sat alone, the dog went mad). Predicative adjectives may be
modified by adverbials of manner, degree, or consequence and by clauses, forming
long phrases as, in:
He is not so foolish as to neglect it.
She is not so crazy as you may imagine.
It is not as simple as you think.
Adjectives may also function as objective or subjective predicates in complex
constructions:
We consider him reliable.
I can drink coffee hot.
He pushed the door open.
Better eat the apples fresh.
I consider what he did awful.
 Objects + objective predicates
The fruits were picked ripe.
The windows were flung open.
 Subjective predicates
Adjectives may be used parenthetically, conveying the attitude of the speaker to the
contents of the sentence (strange, funny, curious, odd, surprising), often premodified by more or most.
Strange, it was the same person.
Most incredible, he deceived us.
A certain type of exclamatory sentence is based on adjectives, often modified by
other words: How good of you! How wonderful! Excellent! Just right!
In the sentence the adjective performs the functions of an attribute and a
predicative. Of the two, the more specific function of the adjective is that of an
attribute, since the function of a predicative can be performed by the noun as well.
There is, though, a profound difference between the predicative uses of the
adjective and the noun which is determined by their native categorical features.


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Namely, the predicative adjective expresses some attributive property of its nounreferent, whereas the predicative noun expresses various substantival characteristics
of its referent, such as its identification or classification of different types. This can
be shown on examples analyzed by definitional and transformational procedures.
You talk to people as if they were a group. → You talk to people as if they formed a
group. Quite obviously, he was a friend. —» His behaviour was like that of a friend.
Cf., as against the above:
I will be silent as a grave. → I will be like a silent grave. Walker felt healthy. →
Walker felt a healthy man. It was sensational. → That fact was a sensational fact.
When used as predicates or post-positional attributes, a considerable number of
adjectives, in addition to the general combinability characteristics of the whole
class, are distinguished by a complementive combinability with nouns. The
complement expansions of adjectives are effected by means of prepositions.
E.g. fond of, jealous of, curious of, suspicious of; angry with, sick with; serious
about, certain about, happy about; grateful to, thankful to, etc.
Many such adjectival collocations render essentially verbal meanings and some of
them have direct or indirect parallels among verbs. Cf.: be fond of — love, like; be
envious of - envy; be angry with — resent; be mad for, about — covet; be thankful
to — thank. Alongside of other complementive relations expressed with the help of
prepositions and corresponding to direct and prepositional object-relations of verbs,
some of these adjectives may render relations of addressee. Cf.: grateful to,
indebted to, partial to, useful for.
To the derivational features of adjectives, belong a number of suffixes and prefixes
of which the most important are: -ful (hopeful), -less (flawless), -ish (bluish), -ous
(famous), -ive (decorative), -ic (basic); un- (unprecedented), in- (inaccurate), pre(premature). Among the adjectival affixes should also be named the prefix a-,
constitutive for the stative subclass which is to be discussed below. As for the
variable (demonstrative) morphological features, the English adjective, having lost
in the course of the history of English all its forms of grammatical agreement with


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the noun, is distinguished only by the hybrid category of comparison, which will
form a special subject of our study.
Quirk et al. (1985) also note in this regard that there is a distinction between
adjectives and participial adjectives. According to him, adjectives that “have the
same suffixes as participles in -ing or -ed are called participial adjectives (Quirk et
al. 1985) and they are indistinctly used in attributive or predicative function,
although participial adjectives are more commonly used in attributive function:
His views were very surprising  his surprising views (Quirk et al, 1985). (18) The
man seemed very offended  the offended man (Quirk et al, 1985).
A white parsley sauce is unappetizing purely because of its boring appearance.
It is never dry or boring.
I was bored and lonely.
2.2.3. Semantic functions of English adjectives
Basing on “A comprehensive Grammar of the English Language” of Randolph
Quirk published in 1973, the writer found that adjectives are classified into stative
and dynamic, gradable and non- gradable.
*Stative and dynamic adjective: As their name suggests, stative adjective denote a
state or condition, which may generally be consider permanent, such as big, red,
tall, etc. Stative adjectives can not normally be used in imperative constructions:
Be big/ red/ tall.
He is being red/ big/ tall.
( Quirk et al, 1973, p124)
In contrast, dynamic adjectives denote attributes which are, to some extent at least,
under the control of the one who possesses them. For instance, brave denotes an
attribute which may not always be in evidence( unlike red, for example ), but which
may be called upon as it is required. For this reason, it is appropriate to use it in an
imperative.
Be brave.
Don’t be afraid. (Quirk et al, 1973, p124)


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Adjectives that can be used dynamically include: awkward, brave, calm, careless,
cruel, funny, good, noisy, timid, etc.(Quirk at al, 1973, p124)
All dynamic adjectives can be used in imperatives such as be careful, don’t be
cruel, and they can also be use predicatively in progressive tense:
Your son is being disruptive in class.
He is being careful.
We are being very patient with you.
The majority of adjectives are stative. The stative or dynamic contrast, as it related
to adjectives, is largely a semantic one, though as we have seen it also has syntactic
implications.
* Gradable and non- gradable adjectives
According to Longman English grammar (1988, p108) adjectives can be
also divided into gradable and non- gradable.
Gradable adjectives mean a large class of words which can be graded, or in
other words, they can be modified by intensifiers and include comparison such
as very young, young, younger, the youngest…
An adjective is gradable when: We can imagine degrees in the quality referred to
and so can use it with words like very, too and enough. Let’s see the followings
examples:
Your work is good.
Your work is very good.
Mary has been very ill.
We can form a comparative and superlative from it as big, bigger, biggest, etc.
Non- gradable adjectives are a small class that can not be graded or in other words,
principally technical adjectives and adjectives denoting provenance such as atomic,
hydrochloric, British…
According to Longman English grammar (1988, p108) an adjective is nongradable when: We can not modify it, it means that we can not use it with very,
too,…


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We can not make a comparative or superlative from it such as daily, dead, medical,
unique, etc.
* Inherent and non- inherent
Based on English grammar of Quirk et al(1973,125), some adjectives are classified
into inherent and non- inherent.
Most attributive adjectives denote some attribute of the noun which they modify.
For instance, the phrase a red car may be said to denote a car which is red. In fact
most adjective- noun sequences such as this can be loosely reformulated in a similar
way, for example:
an old man

~ a man who is old

difficult questions

~ questions which are difficult

round glasses

~ glasses which are round

This applies equally to postpositive adjectives as:
Something understood ~ something which is understood
The people responsible ~ the people who are responsible
In each case the adjective denotes an attribute or quality of the noun, as the
reformulations show. Adjectives of this type are known as inherent adjectives. The
attribute they denote is , as it were, inherent in the noun which they modify.
However, not all adjectives are related to the noun in the same way. For example,
the adjective small in a small businessman does not describe an attribute of the
businessman. It can not be reformulated as a businessman who is small. Instead, it
refers to a businessman whose business is small. We refer to adjectives of this type
as non- inherent adjectives. They refer less directly to an attribute of the noun than
inherent adjectives do.
Whether or not an adjective is inherent or non- inherent, it may involve relation to
an implicit or explicit standard, such as in a big mouse, the adjective big is inherent,
the meaning is the relative size of mice, contrast a little mouse and in a big fool, the
adjective big is non- inherent, the meaning is degrees of foolishness, contrast a bit
of a fool.


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