The Power of Adjectives

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Competent writing begins with understanding basic sentence structure. It's true! Today, let's talk specifically about the POWER of the adjective.

Learning the Shurley English Adjective Jingle during Jingle Time is the first step to leaning about adjectives!  The basic information recited explains (1) what an adjective is, (2) what an adjective does, and (3) how to locate an adjective in a sentence. 

Reciting the Adjective Jingle regularly helps students easily remember the grammar concept.  Once they grasp the basic understanding, they can begin to effectively and strategically apply adjectives when speaking and writing. 

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There’s more to adjectives than the information provided in the jingle.  You see, adjectives are a part of speech with POWER, and their job in the sentence is exclusive!  Only an adjective can modify a noun or pronoun by telling what kind, which one, or how many.   Only adjectives can be used to describe how something feels, looks, sounds, tastes, and acts!

Besides common adjectives like short, last, and ten, there are five distinct categories of adjectives you should know:  (A) article adjectives, (B) proper adjectives, (C) demonstrative adjectives, (D) interrogative adjectives, and (E) indefinite adjectives.


Five Categories of Adjectives:

1. Article Adjectives:  Only three commonly used adjectives are called article adjectives.  They are a, an, and the.   We use them on a daily basis when speaking and writing without giving them much thought.  The article adjectives actually restrict the meanings of the nouns they modify.  For instance, the article “the” is a definite article, meaning a specific person, place, or thing.  A and an are indefinite articles, meaning one of several.

Hint:  Use the sound of the noun’s first letter to select a or an

-If the noun begins with a consonant, use the article adjective “a” before it.    

-If the noun begins with a vowel, use the article adjective “an” before it.


2.  Proper Adjectives:  Adjectives formed from a proper noun are called proper adjectives.  Proper Adjectives are always capitalized no matter where they are located in the sentence.  (I love Mexican food, English is my second language.) 


3.  Demonstrative Adjectives: The adjectives we use to point out a particular person, place, or thing are called demonstrative adjectives.  These adjectives modify the noun or pronoun by telling “which one,” specifically.  (This coat is mine.)  To use the correct demonstrative adjective, you must use the following Tips:

Ask:  Is the demonstrative adjective modifying a singular or plural noun? 

-Use the demonstrative adjectives “this or that” to modify a singular noun. 

-Use the demonstrative adjectives “these or those” to modify plural nouns. 


4.  Interrogative Adjectives:  The adjective used in front of the noun it modifies to ask the questions what, which, or whose is called an interrogative adjective.  (Which desk is Nancy’s?)


5.  Indefinite Adjectives: An indefinite adjective is an adjective formed from an indefinite pronoun.  It modifies a noun instead of replacing it.  Indefinite adjectives are used to qualify nouns and express the indefinite idea of quality or quantity.  Some common indefinite adjectives include words like any, each, few, many, more, several, and some, etc.    (Each student contributed several food items during the food drive.)


Use any category of adjectives with competence and confidence by learning about them and applying them when you’re speaking and writing.  Before long, you’ll be effectively and strategically using them as you speak and write for all purposes!

Comment /Source

Jamie Geneva

Jamie Geneva is the Senior National Consultant at Shurley Instructional Materials and is a seasoned subject matter expert in the realm of English Language Arts.  Her career with the company began during the days of the Shurley Method binder, which was pre-1st Edition, and has spanned across three decades.  Over the years, her various roles have included teacher, presenter, state representative, consultant, manager, and most recently, a Shurley English Digital Assistant.  You might not recognize her face, but her voice could certainly sound familar.  That’s because she’s recorded Jingles, Q&A Flow Sentences, and other Shurley English content for many, many years. 

Jamie and her husband, Garret, live in the foothills of eastern Oklahoma. She loves spending quality time with her family, traveling, reading, cooking, and staying connected on social media.

Ms. Geneva received her B.S. degree in Elementary Education and her M.Ed in Public School Administration from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK. 

Adverb or Adjective?

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When my third graders were first learning the parts of speech, some of them would mix-up adverbs and adjectives.  I found a great process that would move my students from definitions, through Bloom's Taxonomy, and towards application. Let me show you...

Step 1: Definitions

Remember, an adverb modifies verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. An adjective modifies nouns or pronouns. As you well know, definitions can be hard to remember. Why not introduce your students to language arts jingles? (There is plenty of research on this subject, that you can read about here and here.) Below are two jingles to help you with adverbs and adjectives.

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Step 2: Questioning Strategies

Next, move towards application with questioning strategies. By asking the right questions, students can identify the word as an adjective or an adverb.

If the word answers, “HOW? WHEN? WHERE?” it is an adverb.

If the word answers, “WHAT KIND? WHICH ONE? HOW MANY?" it is an adjective.


By using this two-step process, students can move from simple quoting of definitions to application of facts.

Do you want more language arts jingles? Check this out!

Comment /Source

Cindy Goeden

Cindy Goeden has enjoyed being involved with Shurley English for the last sixteen of her twenty-six years in the field of education.  Working with various levels of students in elementary, junior, and high schools, in both the private and public arenas, Cindy surely is thankful for the providential day that she was introduced to Shurley English, which changed forever her approach to Language Arts instruction. That has led to her current job of having the joy of sharing about Shurley with other educators.  Her love of learning has prodded her to earn over two hundred and twenty hours, which includes two bachelor degrees in education.


Cindy currently lives with her husband, Donald, in Indianapolis, Indiana, where she enjoys puttering in her flowers, changing up her décor with the seasons, and occasionally getting out and traveling with Donald to either explore a new beach or view historic sights and gardens.