In English, adjectives are something we use to better describe temporary and permanent aspects of things or people. These words help us to figure out the current state, mood, or condition of nouns that we might put in our sentences. There are different types of categories of adjectives, and this guide will focus on how to identify and use positive ones. We will structure this piece as a teaching tool that instructors should be able to use with students at both the middle and high school levels. Because many such students could be learning English as a second language, this guide aims to use simple, concrete examples that can help them grasp the concepts we put forth, too. Throughout this article, we will group different positive adjectives according to their categories, and we will provide some basic examples of each by using them in common sentence structures.
In their hearts, these nice adjectives just express anything good about the noun subject that they help to describe. It may be easier for some students to remember that, instead of being negative or bad, positive adjectives are how they might talk or write about something nicely. Further, positive adjectives can describe things that are not concrete, such as emotions. For example, we might say that Mary is always happy when the day starts with sunshine. A sunny start to the day brings Mary happiness. Although examples like this one describe a feeling that might not be permanent, we know that Mary feels happy whenever a sunny day is ahead.
Most students and the levels for which we write this guide will have some understanding of feelings or things that they can group broadly into good and bad categories. Anything that they can associate with a positive feeling or outcome will mean that they can put it in the category of good adjectives. For example, a visiting friend might tell you that their city is a very safe city in which to live. Safety is something that gives us comfort, and it helps us live without so much worry. Therefore, it is easy to recognize that safety is an example of a good adjective.
Earlier, we introduced you to some of the ways you might use positive adjectives to describe a person. We talked about Mary’s mood on a sunny day. However, there are different ways you might use such adjectives with people, and we can break those ways down into further categories. One of those ways is to describe the overall characteristics of another person that you might meet. Typically, these are things that affect a person’s personality or are positive traits that do not change much. For example, you might say something like my uncle is easygoing and calm under pressure. Although your uncle might become upset at some point in this life, you’ve noticed that he has a general tendency to be laid back and calm, for the most part.
Perhaps you have a hardworking friend who studies a lot and gets good grades. If someone else asked you about this person, you might tell them that your friend is smart, diligent, and thoughtful. All of these words are positive descriptors that paint a good mental image of another person for the benefit of a stranger. In short, anything good that you have to say about another person, or even about yourself, is an example of an adjective in this category.
We can use these kinds of adjectives to describe states of being or things that are not necessarily the same all the time, too. To illustrate this, let’s start with people again. For example, one might say that their friend Richard is excited to see everyone at the party. Excitement is typically a good thing, which means that the person feeling it is experiencing positive emotions. However, it is not necessarily a permanent state for most people. In this case, Richard is feeling excitement based on the specific expectation of going to a party and seeing friends. The next day, he may not feel any excitement for any particular reason.
This category of adjectives relates back to an earlier one about people and their personalities. However, it is a bit different. There are certain adjectives in English that have concrete definitions that can help us describe a person’s personality. You can think of words like brave, knowledgeable, or optimistic when you think of adjectives that might go into this category. However, there are other positive ways to describe a person that don’t necessarily relate to their personalities or ways of being.
For example, because you like your friend so much, you might say that they are a super, great, or amazing person. All of these words are adjectives that describe positive characteristics. However, they are not concrete words that you could use to tell strangers about your friend's overall personality or character. Many people can be great to be around, but that doesn’t tell you much about their personalities.
Eventually, there will be a time in your life when you will need to impress a potential employer. If you are in high school, you might be learning something about this topic already. Knowing how to use the best kinds of adjectives to describe yourself in a good light is important. For example, anyone who hires you might like to know that you are responsible, organized, resourceful, or intelligent. You can use decent adjectives and adapt them to any kind of resume based on the qualifications that you might need to put on your resume.
These are just a few examples of the broad categories into which you can put adjectives like the ones above. Once you understand the basic concept that surrounds these words, it should be relatively easy to recognize them in sentence structures. There are many more adjectives that are nice or pleasant than just the ones we’ve mentioned here. Now that you know what to look for, you can spend a lifetime gathering good things to say about others and yourself.