Tire -- tireless
Cease -- ceaseless
Talk -- talkative
Move -- moveable
(iii) Some Adjectives are formed from other Adjectives.
Adjective -- Adjective
Tragic -- tragical
Black -- blackish
Whole -- wholesome
White -- whitish
Three -- threefold
Sick -- sickly
Exercise in Compositia
15. Have you any --- reason to give?
16. ---anxiety has undermined his health.
17. There were riots in --- places.
18. An --- man will not reason calmly.
19. He stands --- feet in his stockings.
20. Nelson won for himself --- fame.
21. I have no --- cash.
22. He always walks with a --- step.
23. --- errors are not easily corrected.
24. Every cloud has a --- lining.
25. He was a man of --- ambition.
26. He was listened to in --- silence.
Exercise in Composition 8
Form Adjectives from the following Nouns:
[Attach each Adjective to a suitable noun.]
Ease, pity, time, heaven, health, wealth, love, hill, need, green, room, cost.
pain, doubt, wonder, peace, child, prince, mountain, ridicule, picture, labour,
wood, pomp, artist, progress, slave, contempt, tempest, sense, quarrel, I
thought, hope, friend.
Exercise in Composition 9
Use each of the following Adjectives in a sentence:
[Models.- A soft answer turneth away wrath.
His polite manners have endeared him to all.
Swimming is a healthy exercise.
A certain man fell among thieves.]
Happy, sad, industrious, lazy, big, small, soft, harsh, hard, polite, rude, wise, foolish, rich,
poor, young, new, old, long, short, quick, slow, strong, weak, handsome, ugly, clever,
dull, kind, cruel, healthy, dutiful, distant, certain.
Exercise in Composition 10
Use a suitable Adjective with each of the following Nouns :
[Models.- A violent storm.
A long siege.
A decisive victory.
A populous city.
A devoted husband.
Storm, siege, sleep, victory, advice, blow, silence, hands, water, servant, flower, city,
artist, dealer, voice, husband, subject, child, king, dog.
Exercise in Composition 11
Use as many suitable Adjectives as you can with each of the following Nouns:
[Models. - A narrow street, a wide street, a crooked street, a dirty street A clean street.
A deliberate lie, a black lie, a white lie.] Fortune, man, news, storm, health, noveh
progress, room, incident.
Exercise in Composition 12
Write down the Adjectives opposite in meaning to the following:-
Courageous, many, wild, hot, lean, heavy, costly, barren, beautiful, patient, honest,
civilized, careful, strong, experienced, slow, friendly, cruel, soft.
COMPARISON OF ADJECTIVES
80. Read these sentences:
1. Rama's mango is sweet.
2. Hari's mango is sweeter than Rama's.
3. Govind's mango is the sweetest of all.
In sentence 1, the adjective sweet merely tells us that Rama's mango has the quality of
sweetness, without saying how much of this quality it has.
In sentence 2, the adjective sweeter tells us that Hari's mango, compared with Rama's, has
more of the quality of sweetness.
In sentence 3, the adjective sweetest tells us that of all these mangoes Govind's mango
has the greatest amount or highest degree of the quality of sweetness.
We thus see that Adjectives change in form (sweet, sweeter, sweetest) to show
comparison. They are called the three Degrees of Comparison.
The Adjective sweet is said to be in the Positive Degree.
The Adjective sweeter is said to be in the Comparative Degree.
The Adjective sweetest is said to be in the Superlative Degree.
The Positive Degree of an Adjective is the Adjective in its simple form. It is used to
denote the mere existence of some quality of what we speak about. It is used when no
comparison is made.
The Comparative Degree of an Adjective denotes a higher degree of the quality than the
Positive, and is used when two things (or sets of things) are compared; as,
This boy is stronger than that.
Which of these two pens is the better?
Apples are dearer than oranges.
The Superlative Degree of an Adjective denotes the highest degree of the quality, and is
used when more than two things (or sets of things) are compared; as,
This boy is the strongest in the class.
Note 1:- There is another way in which we can compare things. Instead of saying 'Rama
is stronger than Balu we can say 'Balu is less strong than Rama'. Instead of saying 'Hari is
the laziest boy in the class', we can say 'Hari is the least industrious boy in the class7.
Note 2:- The Superlative with most is sometimes used where there is no idea of
comparison, but merely a desire to indicate the possession of a quality in a very high
This is most unfortunate.
It was a most eloquent speech.
Truly, a most ingenious device!
This usage has been called the Superlative of Eminence, or the Absolute Superlative.
Formation of Comparative and Superlative
81. Most Adjectives of one syllable, and some of more than one, form the Comparative
by adding er and the Superlative by adding est to the positive.
Positive -- Comparative -- Superlative
Sweet -- sweeter -- sweetest
Small -- smaller -- smallest
Tall -- taller -- tallest
Bold -- bolder -- boldest
Clever -- cleverer -- cleverest
Kind -- kinder -- kindest
Young -- younger -- youngest
Great -- greater -- greatest
When the Positive ends in e, only r and st are added.
Brave -- braver -- bravest
Fine -- finer -- finest
White -- whiter -- whitest
Large -- larger -- largest
Able -- abler -- ablest
Noble -- nobler -- noblest
Wise -- wiser -- wisest
When the Positive ends in j, preceded by a consonant, the y is changed into i before
adding er and est.
Happy -- happier -- happiest
Easy -- easier -- easiest
Heavy -- heavier -- heaviest
Merry -- merrier -- merriest
Wealthy -- wealthier -- wealthiest
When the Positive is a word of one syllable and ends in a single consonant, preceded by a
short vowel, this consonant is doubled before adding er and est.
Red -- redder -- reddest
Big -- bigger -- biggest
Hot -- hotter -- hottest
Thin -- thinner -- thinnest
Sad -- sadder -- saddest
Fat -- fatter -- fattest
82. Adjectives of more than two syllables form the Comparative and Superlative by
putting more and most before the Positive.
Positive -- Comparative -- Superlative
Beautiful -- more beautiful -- most beautiful
Difficult -- more difficult -- most difficult
Industrious -- more industrious -- most industrious
Courageous -- more courageous -- most courageous
Two-syllable adjectives ending infill (e.g. useful), less (e.g. hope less), ing (e.g. boring)
and ed (e.g. surprised) and many others (e.g. modern, recent, foolish, famous, certain)
take more and most.
The following take either er and est or more and most. :
She is politer/more polite than her sister.
He is the politest/most polite of them.
A work from S CHAND & COMPANY LTD
83. The-Comparative-in er is not used when we compare two qualities in the same person
or thing. If we wish to say that the courage of Rama is greater than the courage of Balu,
Rama is braver than Balu.
But if we wish to say that the courage of Rama is greater than his prudence, we must say,
Rama is more brave than prudent.
84. When two objects are compared with each other, the latter term of comparison must
exclude the former; as,
Iron is more useful than any other metal.
If we say,
Iron is more useful than any metal,
that is the same thing as saying 'Iron is more useful than iron' since iron is itself a metal.
85. The following Adjectives are compared irregularly, that is, their Comparative and
Superlative are not formed from the Positive:-
Positive -- Comparative -- Superlative
Good, well -- better -- best
Bad, evil, ill -- worse -- worst
Little -- less, lesser -- least
Much -- more -- most (quantity)
Many -- more -- most (number)
Late -- later, latter -- latest, last
Old -- older, elder -- oldest, eldest
Far -- farther -- farthest
(Nigh) -- (nigher) -- (nighest), next
(Fore) -- (former) -- foremost, first
(Fore) -- further -- furthest
(In) -- inner -- inmost, innermost
(Up) -- upper -- upmost, uppermost
(Out) -- outer, (utter) -- utmost, uttermost
Note:- The forms nigh, nigher, nighest, fore and utter are outdated.
Exercise in Grammar 13
Compare the following Adjectives:-
Black, excellent, ill, gloomy, mad, safe, bad, unjust, gay, able, dry, timid, ugly, true,
severe, exact, agreeable, difficult, little, few, numerous, merry.
86. The double forms of the Comparative and Superlative of the Adjectives given in § 85
are used in different ways.
Later, latter; latest, last. - Later and latest refer to time; latter and last refer to position.
He is later than I expected.
I have not heard the latest news.
The latter chapters are lacking in interest.
The last chapter is carelesslv written
Ours is the last house in the street.
Elder, older; eldest, oldest.- Elder and eldest are used only of persons, not of animals or
things; and are now confined to members of the same family. Elder is not used with than
following. Older and oldest are used of both persons and things.
John is my elder brother.
Tom is my eldest son.
He is older than his sister.
Rama is the oldest boy in the eleven.
This is the oldest temple in Kolkata.
Farther, further.- Both farther and further are used to express distance. Further, not
farther, is used to mean “additional”.
Kolkata is farther/further from the equator than Colombo.
After this he made no further remarks.
I must have a reply without further delay.
Nearest, next.- Nearest means the shortest distance away. Next refers to one of a
sequence of things coming one after the other.
Mumbai is the seaport nearest to Europe.
Where is the nearest phone box?
Karim's shop is next to the Post Office.
My uncle lives in the next house.
Exercise in Composition 14
(a) Fill the blank spaces with 'later' or 'latter' :-
1. The majority accepted the --- proposal.
2. The --- part of the book shows signs of hurry.
3. At a --- date, he was placed in charge of the whole taluka.
4. I prefer the --- proposition to the former.
5. Is there no --- news than last week's?
(b) Fill the blank spaces with ‘older’ or ‘elder’ :-
1. I have an --- sister.
2. Rama is --- than Had by two years.
3. His --- brother is in the Indian Police Service.
4. She is the --- of the two sisters.
5. The nephew is --- than his uncle.
(c) Fill the blank spaces with 'oldest' and 'eldest' :-
1. Rustam is the --- of my uncle's five sons.
2. He is the --- member of the School Committee.
3. That is Antonio, the duke's --- son.
4. The --- mosque in the town is near the railway station.
5. Mr. Smith is the --- teacher in the school.
(d) Fill the blank spaces with 'farther' or 'further':-
1. I can't walk any ---.
2. No --- reasons were given.
3. He walked off without --- ceremony.
4. Until --- orders Mr. K.S. Dave will act as Headmaster of Nira High School.
5. To let, a bungalow at Ridge Road. For --- particulars apply to Box. No. 65.
(e) Fill the blank spaces with 'latest' or 'last':-
1. The --- news from China is very disquieting.
2. The --- time I saw him, he was in high spirits.
3. To-day is the --- day for receiving lenders.
4. We expect to get the --- news in a few hours.
5. The --- Moghul Emperor came to an ignominious end.
(j) Fill the blank spaces with 'nearest' or 'next':-
1. This is the --- post office to my house.
2. The pillar-box is --- to my house.
3. The burglar was taken to the --- police station.
4. His house is --- to mine.
5. The --- railway station is two miles from here.
87. Certain English Comparatives have lost their comparative meaning and are used as
Positive. They cannot be followed by than. These are:-
Former, latter, elder, upper, inner, outer, utter.
Both the tiger and (he leopard are cats; the former animal is much larger than the latter.
The inner meaning of this letter is not clear.
The soldiers ran to defend the outer wall.
My elder brother is an engineer.
This man is an utter fool.
88. Certain Comparatives borrowed from Latin have no Positive or Superlative degree.
They all end in or, not er. They are twelve in all. Five of them have lost their
Comparative meaning, and are used as Positive Adjectives. These are:-
Interior, exterior, ulterior, major, minor.
The exterior wall of the house is made of stone; the interior walls are of wood.
His age is a matter of minor importance.
I have no ulterior motive in offering you help.
The other seven are used as Comparative Adjectives but are followed by to instead of
than (See § 89)
89. The comparative degree is generally followed by than; but Comparative Adjectives
ending in -or are followed by the preposition to; as,
Inferior, superior, prior, anterior, posterior, senior, junior.
Hari is inferior to Ram in intelligence.
Rama's intelligence is superior to Hari's.
His marriage was prior to his father's death.
He is junior to all his colleagues.
All his colleagues are senior to him.
90. Adjectives expressing qualities that do not admit of different degrees cannot, strictly
speaking, be compared; as,
Square, round, perfect, eternal, universal, unique. Strictly speaking, a thing cannot be
more square, more round, more perfect. But we say, for instance,
Exercise in Grammar 15
Point out the Adjectives and name the Degree of Comparison of each:-
1. The poor woman had seen happier days.
2. Do not talk such nonsense.
3. Make less noise.
4. That child has a slight cold.
5. A live ass is stranger than a dead lion.
6. Say the same thing twice over.
7. Soloman was one of the wisest men.
8. Hunger is the best sauce.
9. His simple word is as good as an oath.
10. There was not the slightest excuse for it.
11. My knife is sharper than yours.
12. Small people love to talk of great men.
13. Of two evils choose the less.
14. I hope the matter will be cleared up some day.
15. Your son makes no progress in his studies.
16. Open rebuke is better than secret love.
17. We never had such sport.
18. I have other things to attend lo.
19. Hari is the idlest boy in the class.
20. I promise you a fair hearing.
21. There is much to be said on both sides.
22. He gave the boys much wholesome advice.
23. He thinks he is wiser than his father.
24. No news is good news.
25. Bangladesh has the largest tea garden in the world.
26. Lead is heavier than any other metal.
27. I congratulated him on his good fortune.
28. He has many powerful friends.
29. The longest lane has a turning.
Exercise in Grammar 16
Make three columns, and write the following Adjectives in the Positive, Comparative and
[Be careful to use the form of comparison that is pleasing to the ear.]
Shameful, clever, pretty, interesting, hopeful, honest, important, patient, rude, delightful,
stupid, attractive, heavy, beautiful, fortunate, pleasant.
A work from S. CHAND & COMPANY LTD.
Exercise in Composition 17
Supply the proper form (Comparative or Superlative) of the Adjective:-
[Note:-The Comparative and not the Superlative should be used to compare two things.]
1. Good - How is your brother to-day? Is he ---?
2. Hot - May is --- here than any other month.
3. Pretty - Her doll is --- than yours.
4. Idle - Hari is the --- boy in the class.
5. Sharp - Your knife is sharp, but mine is ---.
6. Dear - Honour is --- to him than life.
7. Rich - He is the --- man in our town.
8. Old - Mani is two years --- than Rati.
9. Large - Name the --- city in the world.
10. Good - He is the --- friend I have.
11. Bad - He is the --- boy of the two.
12. Bad - Raman's work is bad, Hari's is ---, but Govind's is the ---.
13. Ferocious - There is no animal --- than the tiger.
14. Bad - The trade is in a --- condition to-day than it was a year ago.
15. Tall - He is the --- of the two.
16. Dry - Sind is the --- part of Pakistan.
17. Useful - Iron is --- than any other metal.
18. Useful - Iron is the --- of all metals.
19. Great - Who is the --- living poet ?
20. Nutritious - I think he requires a --- diet.
21. Proud - It was the --- moment of his life.
22. Good -The public is the --- judge.
23. Little - That is the --- price I can take.
24. Light - Silver is --- than gold.
Exercise in Composition 18
Supply appropriate Comparatives or Superlatives to each of the following:-
1. Prevention is --- than cure.
2. Akbar had a --- region than Babar.
3. Sachin Tendulkar is the --- batsman in the world.
4. The pen is --- than the sword.
5. The --- buildings are found in America.
6. The Pacific is --- than any other ocean.
7. Which of the two girls has the --- dress?
8. Honour is --- to him than life.
9. This pen is --- than the other.
10. Who is the --- boy in the class ?
11. The Eiffel Tower is --- than Qutab Minar.
12. My uncle is --- than my father.
13. The multi-millionaire Mr. Sen is the --- in this town.
14. Wordsworth is a --- poet than Cowper.
15. Balu is the --- bowler in the eleven.
16. The streets of Mumbai are --- than those of Ahmedabad.
17. Ooty is --- than Chennai.
18. The piano was knocked down to the --- bidder.
19. Mount Everest is the --- peak of the Himalayas.
20. He writes a --- hand than his brother.
21. He writes the --- hand in his class.
22. He is one of the --- speakers in Punjab.
23. Who was the --- general, Alexander or Caesar?
24. The --- fables are those attributed to j45sop.
25. The Arabian Nights is perhaps the --- story-book,
26. Shakespeare is --- than any other English poet.
27. Of all countries, China has the --- population in the world.
28. Clouds float in the sky because they are --- than the air.
29. There are two ways of doing the sum, but this one is the ---.
30. It is good to be clever, but it is --- to be industrious.
31. This is the --- of my two sons.
32. This is the --- that I can do?
Exercise in Composition 19
Change the following sentences by using 'less' or 'least' without changing the meaning:-
1. The mango is sweeter than the pine-apple.
2. Silver is more plentiful than gold.
3. This is the most useless of all my books.
4. Wolfram is one of the rarest minerals.
5. The wild-apple is the sourest of all fruits.
6. Iron is more useful than copper.
Interchange of the Degrees of Comparison
91. As the following examples show, it is possible to change the Degree of Comparison
of an Adjective in a sentence, without changing the meaning of the sentence:-
Superlative - Lead is the heaviest of all metals.
Comparative - Lead is heavier than all other metals.
Comparative - Mahabaleshwar is cooler than Panchgani.
Positive - Panchgani is not so cool as Mahabaleshwar.
Positive - He is as wise as Solomon.
Comparative - Soloman was not wiser than he is.
Superlative - Shakuntala is the best drama in Sanskrit.
Comparative - Shakuntala is better than any other drama in Sanskrit.
Positive - No other drama in Sanskrit is so good as Shakuntala.
Superlative - Chennai is one of the biggest of Indian cities.
Comparative - Chennai is bigger than most other Indian cities.
Positive - Very few Indian cities are as big as Chennai.
Positive - Some poets are at least as great as Tennyson.
Comparative - Tennyson is not greater than some other poets, I Some poets are not less
great than Tennyson.
Superlative - Tennyson is not the greatest of all poets.
Exercise in Composition 20
Change the Degree of Comparison, without changing the meaning:-
1. Malacca is the oldest town in Malaysia.
2. Soya beans are at least as nutritious as meat.
3. No other planet is so big as Jupiter.
4. Very few boys are as industrious as Latif.
5. He would sooner die than tell a lie.
6. India is the largest democracy in the world.
7. Shakespeare is greater than any other English poet.
8. Samudra Gupta was one of the greatest of Indian Kings.
9. The tiger is the most ferocious of all animals.
10. Australia is the largest island in the world.
11. Lead is heavier than any other metal.
12. Some people have more money than brains.
13. A wise enemy is better than a foolish friend.
14. The Marwaries are not less enterprising than any other community in India.
15. I know him quite as well as you do.
16. You do not know him better than I do.
17. No other man was as strong as Bhim.
18. Some boys are the list as industrious as Suresh.
19. Mount Everest is the highest peak of the Himalayas.
20. Very few animals are as useful as the cow.
21. America is the richest country in the world.
22. It is easier to preach than to practise.
23. Iron is more useful than all the other metals.
24. Open rebuke is better than secret love.
25. The Sears Tower is the tallest building in the world.
26. Sir Surendranath was at least as great an orator as any other Indian.
27. Ooty is as healthy as any resort in India.
28. The pen is mightier than the sword.
ADJECTIVES USED AS NOUNS
92. Adjectives are often used as Nouns.
(1) As Plural Nouns denoting a class of persons; as,
The cautious (= cautious persons) are not always cowards.
The rich (= rich people) know not how the poor (= poor people) live. The wicked (=
wicked people) flee when no man pursueth, but the righteous (= righteous people) are
bold as a lion. Blessed are the meek.
(2) As Singular Nouns denoting some abstract quality; as,
The future (= futurity) is unknown to us.
He is a lover of the beautiful (= beauty in general)
(3) Some Adjectives actually become Nouns, and are hence used in both numbers:-
(a) Those derived from Proper Nouns; as, Australians, Canadians, Italians.-
(b) Some denoting persons; as, juniors, seniors, mortals, inferiors, superiors, nobles,
criminals, savages, elders, minors.
(c) A few denoting things generally; as. secrets, totals, liquids, solids, valuables.
[Some adjectives arc used as Nouns only in (he plural; as, valuables, eatables]
(4) In certain phrases; as,
In general; in future; in short; in secret; before long; at present; for good;
at best; through thick and thin; for better or for worse; in black and white;
right or wrong; from bad to worse; the long and short.
In future I shall charge you for medical advice. In short, we know nothing.
The negotiations were carried on in secret.
I shall see you before long. Before long,
he will be appointed to a higher post.
At present, he is in pecuniary difficulties.
I do not want any more at present.
He has left India for good.
At best we shall get no more dividend than five paise in a rupee.
At best he is a clever versifier : but a poet he is certainly not.
It must be said to his credit that he stood by his friend through thick and thin.
I must have your teams down in black and white.
Right or wrong, my country.
I am afraid the young man is going from bad to worse.
The long and short of it is that I distrust you.
Nouns used as Adjectives
93. The use of Nouns as Adjectives is very common in English; as,
I met a little cottage girl.
He is always playing computer games.
POSITION OF ADJECTIVES
94. An Adjective used attributively is generally placed immediately before the noun; as,
King Francis was a hearty king, and loved a royal sport.
Where are you going, my pretty maid, with your rosy cheeks and golden hair?
O Captain ! my Captain ! our fearful trip is done.
Observe the difference in meaning between:-
(i) a great nobleman's son, and
(ii) a nobleman's great son.
95. In poetry, however, the Adjective is frequently placed after the noun; as.
Children dear, was it yesterday.
We heard the sweet bells over the bay.
man with sisters dear!
96. When several Adjectives are attached to one noun they are sometimes placed after it
for emphasis; as
There dwelt a miller hale and bold.
The King, fearless and resolute, at once advanced.
Franklin had a great genius, original, sagacious, and inventive.
97. When some word or phrase is joined to the Adjective to explain its meaning, the
Adjective is placed after its noun; as,
He was a man fertile in resource.
A Sikh, taller than any of his comrades, rushed forward.
98. In certain phrases the Adjective always comes after the noun; as
Heir apparent, time immemorial, lord paramount, viceroy elect, letters, patent, knights
temporal, notary public, body politic, God Almighty.
THE CORRECT USE OF SOME ADJECTIVES
99. Some, any- To express quantity or degree some is used normally in affirmative
sentences, any in negative or interrogative sentences.
I will buy some mangoes.
I will not buy any mangoes.
Have you bought any mangoes?
But any can be used after if in affirmative sentences.
If you need any money I will help you.
Some is used in questions which are really offers/requests or which expect the answer
Will you have some ice-cream? (Offer)
Could you lend me some money? (Request)
Did you buy some clothes? (= I expect you did.)
100. Each, every.- Each and every are similar in meaning, but every is a stronger word
than each; it means, 'each without exception'. Each is used in speaking of two or more
things; every is used only in speaking of more than two. Each directs attention to the
individuals forming any group, every to the total group. Each is used only when
the number in the group is limited and definite; every when the number is indefinite.
Every seat was taken.
Five boys were seated on each bench.
Every one of these chairs is broken.
Leap year falls in every fourth year.
He came to see us every three days [i.e., once in every period of three days].
It rained every day during my holidays.
I was away ten days and it rained each day.
101. Little, a little, the little.- Note carefully the use of-
(2) a little,
(3) the little.
Little = not much (i.e., hardly any). Thus, the adjective little has a negative meaning.
There is little hope of his recovery, i.e., he is not likely to recover.
He showed little concern for his nephew.
He has little influence with his old followers.
He showed little mercy to the vanquished.
He has little appreciation of good poetry.
A little = some though not much. 'A little' has a positive meaning-
There is a little hope of his recovery, i.e., he may possibly recover.
A little tact would have saved the situation.
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
The little = not much, but all there is.
The little information he had was not quite reliable.
The little knowledge of carpentry that he possessed stood him in good stead.
[The sentence means-The knowledge of carpentry he possessed was not
much; but all that knowledge stood him in good stead.]
A work from S CHAND & COMPANY LTD
Exercise in Composition 21
Insert 'a little', or 'the little' whichever is suitable:-
1. --- grain they had was damaged by sea water.
2. --- precaution is necessary in handling that machine.
3. --- care could have prevented the catastrophe.
4. --- influence that he has, he uses to the best advantage.
5. --- knowledge of French that he has is likely to be very useful to him on the Continent.
102. Few, a few, the few. Note carefully the use of :-
(2) a few,
(3) the few.
Few = not many, hardly any, 'Few' has a negative meaning.
Few persons can keep a secret.
Few people are so hopeless as drunkards.
Few towns in India have public libraries.
Few works of reference are so valuable as the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
Few men are free from faults.
Few men reach the age of one hundred years.
Few Parsees write Gujarati correctly.
A few = some. 'A few' has a positive meaning, and is opposed to 'none'.
A few words spoken in earnest will convince him.
A few Parsees write Gujarati correctly.
The few = not many, but all there are.
The few remarks that he made were very suggestive.
[The sentence means- The remarks that he made were not many; but all those remarks
were very suggestive.]
The few friends he has are all very poor.
The few clothes they had were all tattered and torn.
Exercise in Composition 22
Insert 'a few' or 'the few' whichever is suitable:-
1. --- public libraries that we have are not well equipped.
2. --- days that are left to him he spends in solitude and meditation.
3. Many Hindus study Sanskrit, but only --- Parsees study Avesta.
4. --- days' rest is all that is needed.
5. Have you got --- potatoes left?
6. It is a question of spending --- rupees.
7. --- hints on essay-writing are quite to the point.
8. --- months that he spent in Ooty did him a lot of good.
9. When I met him --- years after, he looked old and haggard.
10. --- short poems in the volume show signs of genius.
11. In --- words he expressed his gratitude to his friends.
12. --- Americans have their offices in Kolkata.
13. --- trinkets she has are not worth much.
14. --- poems he has written are all of great excellence.
103. The words a or an and the are called Articles. They come before nouns.
104. There are two Articles - a (or an) and the.
105. A or an is called the Indefinite Article, because it usually leaves indefinite the
person or thing spoken of; as, A doctor; that is, any doctor.
106. The is called the Definite Article, because it normally points out some particular
person or thing; as,
He saw the doctor; meaning some particular doctor. The indefinite article is used before
singular countable nouns, e.g.
A book, art orange, a girl
The definite article is used before singular countable nouns, plural countable nouns and
uncountable nouns, e.g., The book, the books, the milk
A or An
107. The choice between a and an is determined by sound. Before a word beginning with
a vowel sound an is used; as,
An ass, an enemy, an ink-pad, an orange, an umbrella, an hour, an honest man. An heir.
It will be noticed that the words hour, honest, heir begin with a vowel sound, as the initial
consonant h is not pronounced,
108. Before a word beginning with a consonant sound a is used; as,
A boy, a reindeer, a woman, a yard, a horse, a hole, also a university,, a union, a
European, a ewe, a unicorn, a useful article.
because these words (university, union, etc.) begin with a consonant sound, that of yu.
Similarly we say,
A one-rupee note, such a one, a one-eyed man.
because one begins with the consonant sound of w.
109. Some native speakers use an before words beginning with h if the first syllable is not
An hotel (More common: a hotel)
an historical novel (More common: a historical novel)
Use of the Definite Article
110. The Definite Article the is used-
(1) When we talk about a particular person or thing, or one already referred to (that is,
when it is clear from the context which one already referred to (that is, when it is clear
from the constant which one we mean); as,
The book you want is out of print. (Which book? The one you want.)
Let's go to the park. (= the park in this town)
The girl cried, (the girl = the girl already talked about)
(2) When a singular noun is meant to represent a whole class; as,
The cow is a useful animal.
[Or we may say, "Cows are useful animals."]
The horse is a noble animal.
The cat loves comfort.
The rose is the sweetest of all flowers.
The banyan is a kind of fig tree.
[Do not say, "a kind of a fig tree". This is a common error.]
The two nouns man and woman can be used in a general sense without either article.
Man is the only animal that uses fire.
Woman is man's mate.
But in present-day English a man and a woman (or men and women) are more usual.
A woman is more sensitive than a man.
(3) Before some proper names, viz., these kinds of place-names:
(a) oceans and seas, e.g. the Pacific, the black Sea
(b) rivers, e.g. the Ganga, the Nile
(c) canals, e.g. the Suez Canal
(d) deserts, e.g. the Sahara
(e) groups of islands, e.g. the West Indies
(f) mountain-ranges, e.g. the Himalayas, the Alps
(g) a very few names of countries, which include words like republic and kingdom (e.g.
the Irish Republic, the United Kingdom) also: the Ukraine, the Netherlands (and its seat
of government the Hague)
(4) Before the names of certain books; as,
The Vedas, the Puranas, the Iliad, the Ramayana.
But we say-
Homer's Iliad, Valmiki's Ramayana.
(5) Before names of things unique of their kind; as,
The sun, the sky, the ocean, the sea, the earth.
[Note-Sometimes the is placed before aCommon noun to give it the meaning of an
Abstract noun; as, At last the wamor(the warlike or martial spirit) in him was thoroughly
(6) Before a Proper noun when it is qualified by an adjective or a defining adjectival
The great Caesar : the immortal Shakespeare.
The Mr. Roy whom you met last night is my uncle.
(7) With Superlatives; as,
The darkest cloud has a silver lining.
This is the best book of elementary chemistry.
(8) With ordinals; as,
He was the first man to arrive;l
(9) Before musical instruments; as,
He can play the flute.
(10) Before an adjective when the noun is understood; as,
The poor are always with us.
(11) Before a noun (with emphasis) to give the force of a Super lative; as,
The Verb is the word (= the chief word) in a sentence.
(12) As an Adverb with Comparatives; as,
The more the merrier.
(= by how much more, by so much the merrier)
The more they get, the more they want.
Use of the Indefinite Article
111. The Indefinite Article is used-
(1) In its original numerical sense of one; as,
Twelve inches make a foot.
Not a word was said.
A word to the wise is sufficient.
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
(2) In the vague sense of a certain; as,
A Kishore Kumar (= a certain person named Kishore Kumar)
is suspected by the police.
One evening a beggar came to my door.
(3) In the sense of any, to single out an individual as the representative of a class; as,
A pupil should obey his teacher.
A cow is a useful animal.
(4) To make a common noun of a proper noun; as,
A Daniel comes to judgement! (A Daniel = a very wise man)
Omission of the Article
112. The Article is omitted-
(1) Before names of substances and abstract nouns (i.e. uncountable nouns) used in a
general sense; as,
Sugar is bad for your teeth.
Gold is a precious metal.
Wisdom is the gift of heaven.
Honesty is the best policy.
Virtue is its own reward.
Note:- Uncountable nouns take the when used in a particular sense (especially when
qualified by an adjective or adjectival phrase or clause); as,
Would you pass me the sugar? (= the sugar on the table)
The wisdom of Solomon is great.
I can't forget the kindness with which he treated me.
(2) Before plural countable nouns used in a general sense; as,
Children like chocolates.
Computers are used in many offices.
Note that such nouns take the when used with a particular meaning; as,
Where arc the children? (= our children)
(3) Before most proper nouns (except those referred to earlier), namely, names of people
(e.g. Gopal, Rahim), names of continents, countries, cities, etc. (e.g. Europe, Pakistan,
Nagpur), names of individual mountains (e.g. Mount Everest), individual islands, lakes,
(4) Before names of meals (used in a general sense); as,
What time do you have lunch?
Dinner is ready.
Note: We use a when there is an adjective before breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc. We use the
when we specify.
I had a late lunch today.
The dinner we had at the Tourist Hotel was very nice
(5) Before languages; as,
We are studying English.
They speak Punjabi at home.
(6) Before school, college, university, church, bed, hospital, prison, when these places are
visited or used for their primary purpose; as,
I learnt French at school.
We go to church on Sundays.
He stays in bed till nine every morning.
My uncle is still in hospital.
Note- The is used with these words when we refer to them as a definite place, building or
object rather than to the normal activity that goes on there; as,
The school is very near my home.
I met him at the church.
The bed is broken.
I went to the hospital to see my uncle.
(7) Before names of relations, like father, mother, aunt, uncle, and also cook and nurse,
meaning 'our cook', 'our nurse', as,
Father has returned.
Aunt wants you to see her.
Cook has given notice.
(8) Before predicative nouns denoting a unique position, i.e., a position that is normally
held at one time by one person only; as,
He was elected chairman of the Board.
Mr. Banerji became Principal of the College in 1995.
(9) In certain phrases consisting of a transitive verb followed by its object; as,
to catch fire, to take breath, to give battle, to cast anchor, to send word, to bring word, to
give ear, to lay siege, to set sail, to lose heart, to set foot, to leave home, to strike root, to
A work forms S.CHANDA & COMPANY LTD.