What are Proper Adjectives? Proper Adjectives Examples Guide

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A proper adjective is something that comes from a larger category of adjectives in general. Proper adjectives examples are one of the key eight parts of speech you will find in the English language, and it is important to know and be able to identify which parts of speech construct a complete sentence. Some students may already know some things about nouns, verbs, and adjectives. However, pronouns, adverbs, interjections, conjunctions, and prepositions also exist. This article will focus on examples of proper adjectives and how you might use these adjectives in everyday speech or writing.

What are Proper Adjectives with Examples?

Proper adjectives come from proper nouns. Proper nouns name unique places, people, or organizations. For example, country is a common noun because it refers to a general country, whereas the United States is a specific place in the world, so it's a proper noun and should be capitalized. If you are from the United States, you would be from the U.S. or North American. This is a proper adjective example and is always capitalized.

  1. Canada (proper noun) Canadian (proper adjective)
  2. Poland (proper noun) Polish (proper adjective)
  3. South America (proper noun) South American (proper adjective)
  4. Spain (proper noun) Spanish (proper adjective)
  5. France (proper noun) French (proper adjective)

Common Adjectives and Proper Adjectives

If you know that an adjective helps to add a description to either the pronoun or noun parts of speech in a sentence, it can become easier to decipher these kinds of words. For example, if we write out I saw a large dog today, the key adjective in the sentence is the word large. It is a word that has added some detail to the noun dog. In many cases, you will hear people refer to these adjectives as common adjectives. The descriptors we use here are things we derive from equally common nouns. However, proper adjectives work a bit differently. As you might expect, a proper adjective is something we get from a proper noun.
Proper nouns refer to unique or specific places, people, or objects. Therefore, in order to give key descriptions or details about these kinds of nouns or pronouns, we need our adjectives to be proper, too. This is because, unlike the more general common adjectives, proper ones are things we base on the names of the proper nouns. Much like these nouns, we need to capitalize the proper adjective that we get here.

Proper Adjective Examples

Proper adjectives don't just come from countries. They can also be formed from people or things.


Let’s start with a proper noun from which we can get one of our proper adjectives.

  1. If we choose a proper noun like the name of the country Canada, you can see that we capitalize it. In order to describe something that we relate to this country, we would need to get it from the root noun and capitalize it, too. Examples of proper adjective use that we get from the word Canada would include Canadian or something that modifies the proper noun here. One might say that a Canadian winter is particularly cold. Otherwise, they might talk to you about Canadian customs or traditions, and these would be things that Canadian people do that others around the world might not.
  2. Many proper adjectives will have these -an or -ian ends, but exceptions do exist. In most cases, you will need to learn exceptions as you go along. If we stick with the example of countries, you could have Poland, a land that is home to Polish people.
  3. Georgia, a country at the intersection between Asia and Europe, not the state, would be the land for Georgians or Georgian people, with Georgian culture.

Proper Adjective Examples for Nationalities

Here are some of the most common proper adjective examples for different nationalities.

  1. Andorra (proper noun) Andorran (proper adjective)
  2. Argentina (proper noun) Argentinian (proper adjective)
  3. England (proper noun) English (proper adjective)
  4. United Kingdom (proper noun) British (proper adjective)
  5. Greece (proper noun) Greek (proper adjective)
  6. Peru (proper noun) Peruvian (proper adjective)
  7. Holland or Netherland (proper noun) Dutch (proper adjective)
  8. Iraq (proper noun) Iraqi (proper adjective)
  9. Malta (proper noun) Maltese (proper adjective)
  10. Switzerland (proper noun) Swiss (proper adjective)


Want more examples of proper adjectives for nationalities or states? Flip the flashcards.


We derive many proper adjectives from the names of famous people, too. Mostly, these people are historical figures who have done something to associate their names with a particular thing or movement.

  1. Sigmund Freud was instrumental in creating many parts of the field of psychology today. When speaking about certain psychological terms or practices, one might use the word Freudian to describe better the kind of thing they are speaking about. Something that is Freudian means that it has heavy influence from things that Sigmund Freud said or did.
  2. Orwellian is a proper adjective describing an idea, situation, or societal condition that English novelist George Orwell described as being destructive to the welfare of society.
  3. Shakespearean describes works that are similar in writing style to William Shakespeare or one of his works. Shakespearean describes writing style.
  4. Someone's political viewpoints might be described as Machiavellian, which refers to the Italian political philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli.


Adjectives like these could also come from things, although this might be rarer. Even in such cases, the adjective is usually something we will derive from the name of a person or place.

  1. You might hear a song that sounds very similar to some of the music you know from the British group The Beatles. If you do, you may describe this song as particularly Beatle-esque in its listening experience. This kind of adjective describes a thing, the song, but we need the proper noun of the group name in order to get it.
  2. Sometimes people make up proper adjectives to describe something, but they might not be correct.

How to Spot a Proper Adjective

Some students may already know what adjectives are depending on their grade levels. You'll be able to identify a proper adjective if it uses a proper noun and one of these suffixes: -ian, -an, or -esq. Other common suffixes are -like, -ese, and -istic.

Exceptions to the Proper Adjective Rules

Although these are the basic rules for adjectives of this type, exceptions do occur in English. When this happens, an adjective that we would get from a proper noun is something that we would spell out in lowercase letters. In keeping with the theme of countries, you would capitalize the proper noun of Sparta. However, if you want to describe a state of simplicity or something that lacks comfort, you would use the lowercase adjective spartan. Any adjectives that still relate specifically to Spartan society, on the other hand, are ones you would capitalize.


We hope that this guide to some examples of proper adjective use is something that can help students and teachers alike. These kinds of adjectives are just one of several that exist within the larger group. Other types that you might encounter include exclamatory, possessive, demonstrative, interrogative, quantitative, descriptive, and numeral adjectives. Want to work on your reading comprehension? Check out the links below. We've got reading comprehension worksheets for Grades 3-5.