Adjective and adjectival phrase

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Adjective and Adjectival Phrase

An adjective phrase is a group of words without a finite verb that has an adjective as a headword.

Examples; very beautiful, very humble, so calm, too hot, extremely beautiful, really etc.

Structure of the Adjective Phrase

An adjective phrase is made up of an adverb of degree as a Pre modifier and an adjective as the headword.

(Adv.) + Adj.

The adverb is in brackets to indicate that it is an optional constituent in the adjective phrase structure; this implies, the adverb of degree in the structure of the an adjective phrase can be omitted without destroying the grammaticality of the sentence, however, same cannot be done for the adjective, that’s why it is the headword.

Function of the Adjective Phrase

Just like adjectives, the adjective phrase modifies or describes or qualifies nouns and pronouns in sentences.

Usage Examples

a. Amina is very beautiful.
G. Name: Adjective phrase
Function: Qualifies the noun, ‘Amina’

b. The water is extremely hot.
G. Name: Adjective phrase
Function: Describes the noun ‘water’

c. He is too arrogant.
G. Name: Adjective phrase
Function: Describes the pronoun, ‘he’

Adjectival Phrase

An adjectival phrase is a group of related words without a finite verb that does the work of an adjective. An adjectival phrase may not necessarily have an adjective as the headword. Prepositional phrases and participial phrases are examples of adjectival phrases.

Note: As we learnt under prepositional phrases, when we have the phrase, ‘in the car’ in isolation, it is called a prepositional phrase, however, when it is used in a context, it may be called an adjectival phrase or an adverbial phrase depending on what it does in the sentence.

For instance, the boy in the car is my son.
It is used as an adjectival phrase in the above example because it describes the kind of boy the speaker is referring to. Once ‘boy’ is a noun and it is describing it, we say it is doing the work of an adjective, hence, an adjectival phrase.

Also, ‘The boy is in the car.’ In this example, the prepositional phrase ‘in the car‘ tells the reader where the boy is located and answers the question WHERE?
We learnt that it is also adverbs that answer the question WHERE?, hence, it is used as an adverbial phrase in this context.

Usage Examples of Adjectival Phrases

i. The boy in the classroom is a prefect.
G. Name: Adjectival phrase
Function: Describes the noun ‘boy’

ii. The child under the mango tree was admitted.
G. Name: Adjectival phrase
Function: Qualifies the noun ‘child’

iii. The woman walking down the street is my aunt.
G. Name: Adjectival phrase
Function: Modifies the noun ‘woman’

Difference between Adjective Phrase and Adjectival Phrase

An adjective phrase is a group of words without a finite verb that has an adjective as a headword, whereas an adjectival phrase is a group of words without a finite verb that may not necessarily have an adjective as a headword, but does the work of an adjective.

Usage Examples

i. a. The lady is very humble.
G. Name: Adjective phrase.
Reason: The headword is ‘humble’, which is an adjective.

i. b. The girl in the room is my sister.
G. Name: Adjectival phrase
Reason: The headword is not an adjective, but it does the work of an adjective.

However, for the purpose of examination, if a student identifies a prepositional phrase that is functioning as an adverb as adjective phrase, the student is right.

On the same vane, if a student identifies a group of words with adjective as the headword as adjectival phrase, same is correct.

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