Are you thinking of ways to pass the time and improve your English? In our electronic age, an old-fashioned kind of activity might be just what you need.
Reading fiction is a great way to learn and explore new worlds.
Today we will discuss one of the most important ways that writers use grammar to express images and ideas: different kinds of adjectives.
We begin with some definitions.
Nora Bacon is an English professor at the University of Nebraska Omaha. She has written about language, grammar and writing for several publications.
Bacon also wrote a book, called “The Well-Crafted Sentence.” In it, she notes that one of the biggest differences between spoken and written English is the use of ‘adjectivals:’ adjectives, adjective phrases, and adjective clauses. They are much more common in writing than in speaking, she notes.
As many of you know, adjectives are words that add meaning to nouns. Consider this example.
Toni Morrison was a writer.
This statement does not have an adjective. It is a very simple, factual statement.
Here is how an adjective could change the sentence:
Toni Morrison was a great writer.
The adjective great adds meaning to the noun, writer.
This statement gives information about the speaker or writer’s opinion of Morrison.
Here is an important thing to remember about adjectives. Adjectives do not agree with the nouns they go with; they are neither singular nor plural. A final “s” is never added to an adjective, notes Betty Azar, a grammar expert we have noted in other Everyday Grammar programs.
Here is an example that shows what she means:
Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald were great writers.
Note that the noun writers is plural. But the adjective great is the same as in our sentence about Toni Morrison.
Sometimes, adjectives appear as phrases - groups of words.
These adjective phrases can be part of the noun phrase, or they can come before or after it. Let me give you an example. Imagine you are reading a horror story:
A thick, dark, oppressive fog covered the city.
A fog, thick, dark, and oppressive, covered the city.
Thick, dark, and oppressive, the fog covered the city.
Writers often use these kinds of phrases to establish or develop a kind of feeling, or mood, in their story.
Adjective clauses, also called relative clauses, are groups of words that have a subject-verb pair.
Some words, such as that, which, or who, often lead into adjective clauses. Think back to our example about the fog. Here is how it might change if it had an adjective clause.
The fog that covered the city was dark and thick.
In general, the adjective clause comes after the noun that it is describing.
Adjective clauses often answer questions like “What kind of?” or “Which one?”
Sometimes writers leave out words such as that or who. With time, you will begin to recognize when these words do not appear.
If you would like to learn more about words that disappear from relative clauses, read The Mystery of the Disappearing That.
You can find it on our website, learningenglish.voanews.com.
An example from Amy Tan
Let us turn to another example, this one from My Grandmother’s Choice by writer Amy Tan. Tan describes an old picture she rediscovered. She wrote the following words:
“The dark-jacketed woman next to her is a servant...”
The term dark-jacketed acts like an adjective and describes the noun, woman. But something might be missing...
Let’s think about the example again, with one small change:
“The dark-jacketed woman (who is) next to her is a servant...”
The adjective clause is who is next to her is a servant. The words who is do not appear.
You have now learned about all kinds of adjectives. These adjective structures are one of the most important tools that writers use to bring their stories to life.
The next time you are reading a book – science fiction, mystery, romance – try to find examples of adjectives, adjective phrases, and adjective clauses.
Over time, you will begin to understand how writers develop their special, unique, and wonderful styles.
And that’s Everyday Grammar.
I’m Ashley Thompson.
And I’m John Russell.
John Russell wrote this story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Words in This Story
old-fashioned – adj. traditional or not modern; of or relating to the past: such as no longer used or accepted
fiction – n. stories about people and events that are not real; literature that tells stories which are imagined by the writer
grammar – n. the whole system and structure of a language or languages in general
phrase – n. a group of two or more words that express a single idea but do not usually form a complete sentence
clause – n. grammar: a part of a sentence that has its own subject and verb
plural – adj. a word meaning more than one in number
jacket – n. a piece of clothing, placed over the shoulders and extending to the waist or hips
unique – adj. being one of a kind
Farmers, Suppliers Keep World Fed During Health Crisis
From Asia to America, the spread of coronavirus has caused huge problems for the systems that usually bring food to people’s tables.
For example, the health crisis has closed factories and threatened the meat supply in the United States. People can not go to restaurants and markets under stay-at-home orders. Foreign laborers cannot cross borders to help gather fruits and vegetables at harvest time. And crops are left to die in the fields as workers cannot reach them.
It is forcing suppliers to change their normal processes to deal with harvesting, transporting and distributing food. But many farms and companies are making needed changes quickly.
Cutting out middlemen
Didier Lenoble operates a family farm near Paris. He is now using the internet to sell vegetables. The usual street shops he supplies are temporarily closed because of the coronavirus crisis. “It is a whole new business,” he said.
Rungis International Market, Europe’s biggest food market, sits just south of Paris. Its online service has increased home deliveries from 250 a month to 6,500 a week in and around the French capital.
In India, Sahyadri Farms now makes daily deliveries to 3,000 city customers. Sahyadri is a cooperative in the western state of Maharashtra that processes fruit and vegetables for export.
Customers order online, after India’s stay-at-home orders hurt the supply system and left some farmers feeding their crops to animals. A head of the cooperative said Sahyadri is cutting out people in the middle of the supply system and farmers and customers are happy.
In the U.S., restaurant owners and suppliers are trying new ways to reach people. Chicago-based Park and Field sells grocery and meal boxes to families at home. Gunthorp Farms in Lagrange, Indiana is selling chicken directly to customers. That chicken used to only be sold to restaurants.
For some suppliers, the issue has been keeping up with demand for fast-selling basic foods such as eggs, flour and pasta. Pasta and flour makers in North America and Europe are running some production lines 24 hours a day.
Other suppliers are turning to new groups of workers.
Finding new workers
U.S. fruit company Driscoll’s has given jobs to restaurant and hotel workers that lost their jobs during the crisis.
Omar Cortes Arteaga lost his job at an automobile factory. He now works at Green Gold Farms, a supplier to Driscoll’s. Arteaga and other workers wear masks and have temperature checks before going into the fields. “The job is helping me with my bills,” he said.
Finding seasonal workers is critical in Europe, where spring harvests are at risk because the usually huge number of migrant laborers cannot leave home.
Spain is the European Union’s biggest fruit and vegetable exporter. The country has responded by letting unemployed people take farm jobs while keeping government aid payments. And it has extended work permits for the foreign laborers already in the country.
In France, 15,000 workers who lost other jobs will help avoid the possible shortage of foreign laborers this spring. Germany, Britain and Ireland are permitting companies to bring in trained workers from other European Union states on special flights with quarantine measures. And Russia might use prisoners to help out with farming.
The U.S. has exempted foreign laborers from a temporary ban on immigration during the crisis to help farms and businesses. And an Iraq official said farm workers were exempted from curfew measures and farmers were permitted to move harvesting machinery around the country.
I’m Alice Bryant.
Reuters news agency reported this story. Alice Bryant adapted it for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.
Words in This Story
delivery - n. the act of taking something to a person or place
distribute - v. to give or deliver something to a store or business
customer - n. someone who buys goods or services from a business
grocery (store) - n. A store that sells food and household supplies
mask - n. a covering used to protect your face or cover your mouth
migrant - n. a person who goes from one place to another especially to find work
quarantine - n. the situation of being kept away from others to prevent a disease from spreading
exempt - adj. not required to do something that others are required to do