The next Part-of-Speech called up before Judge Grammar was Mr. Adjective.
Adjectives - Good and Brave

"My young friends in Schoolroom-shire," said Serjeant Parsing, "must know Mr. Adjective well. He is the greatest chatterbox and the veriest gossip that ever lived. You never in all your life, my lord, knew anyone who could say so much about one thing as Mr. Adjective. Mr. Noun cannot mention a word, but Mr. Adjective is ready to tell all about it, whether it is little or big, blue or green, good or bad, and mischief enough he does in Schoolroom-shire. For instance, if Noun mentions Willy's pen—' Nasty, spluttering, cross-nibbed thing,' whispers Adjective, and Willy thinks that is why he wrote such a bad copy, and did not dot his z's. If Mr. Noun points out kitty, who is coming into the room, purring and rubbing her head against the leg of each chair as she passes, Adjective whispers that she is a 'dear, sweet, soft, warm, little pet,' so Milly leaves off her sums to pick her up and play with her. Ann, the housemaid, finds dirty boot marks on her nice clean stairs, and as soon as she sees Tom she tells him he is a 'tiresome, untidy, disobedient, and naughty boy,' not knowing that Mr. Adjective was whispering all those words in her ear. Indeed, Mr. Adjective causes more quarrels in Schoolroom-shire, and other places too, than anyone can tell. Only yesterday Jane and Lucy had a quarrel, I hear, because Jane pulled the arm off Lucy's doll. If Adjective had not put into Lucy's head to call Jane naughty and unkind, Jane would not have answered that Lucy was cross and disagreeable. She would most likely have said, 'I beg your pardon, I did not mean to do it,' and they would have been friends again directly. See how much mischief is caused by talkative, gossiping Mr. Adjective."

"Really, Mr. Parsing," remarked Adjective, now putting in his word for the first time, "you have made a long speech to show how mischievous I am. Pray, have you nothing to say about the good that my kind, loving words do?"

"Oh, certainly, my dear sir," said Serjeant Parsing, suddenly changing his tone. "When you like anyone you are a very good-natured fellow, and can say all sorts of sweet things. I heard you in Schoolroom-shire telling Mary that her mamma is her own dearest, kindest, sweetest mother —that baby is a bright, bonny little darling—that Fido is a good, faithful old doggie—and that home is the happiest place in the whole wide world. Oh, yes," continued Serjeant Parsing, "you can call people good names as well as bad."

"I do not call people names," said Adjective, indignantly. "I qualify them. I could qualify you, Mr. Parsing, and say you are an impertinent, rude..."

"That will do, Mr. Adjective," interrupted the Judge. "We understand what you mean by qualifying. But tell us, are your words always placed before nouns?"

"Oh, no, my lord," answered Adjective. "They can, almost all of them, be used before a noun, but they are often used after it, in this way:

The sky is blue.

The sun is bright,

My words are true.

The snow is white.

"You could also say, blue sky, bright sun, true words, white snow, but it does not sound so well, I think. And when a pronoun stands instead of a noun, and my words qualify it..."

"Oh, you qualify pronouns as well as nouns, do you?" asked Serjeant Parsing.

"I am obliged to do so sometimes," said Mr. Adjective, rather sulkily. "I will not have my words used before a pronoun, as they are before a noun. You can say:

I am right,

And you are wrong;

It is late,

And we are strong.

But you must not say: right I, wrong you, late it, or strong we."

"I should think not," said Serjeant Parsing, laughing. "Then we are to understand that adjectives are used to qualify nouns and pronouns, and that they may be used before a noun or after it, but not before a pronoun."

"Quite right, so far," said Mr. Adjective; "but I can do other things besides qualifying nouns."

"What can you do?"

"I can tell how many there are of the thing the noun names, one, two, three, four, and so on. And whether the thing is the first, second, third, or fourth, and so on. And whether there are some things, many things, few things, more things, no things."

"And all these words are adjectives, are they?"

"Yes," answered Adjective. "All words that can be put before thing or things are adjectives."

"A thing, the thing," remarked little Article, looking up with a cunning smile at Adjective. "A and the are both articles."

"A and the don't count, of course," said Adjective, impatiently. "Besides, they were adjectives once, people say, only they got so worn out, that I let my ragged little cousin Article have them. But except a and the, there is no word that you can put before thing or things that is not an adjective. A beautiful thing, an ugly thing, bad things, good things, green things, yellow things, large things, little things; and so you can say, one thing, two things, some things, any things; and also, this thing, that thing, these things, those things."

"That seems a very easy way of finding out an adjective," remarked the Judge. "I hope it is a correct way."

"Indeed it is, my lord," said Adjective, earnestly.

"See, I can give you many more examples.

A lovely, graceful, beautiful thing.

A useful, homely, dutiful thing;

Foolish, childish, useless things;

Handsome, rich, and priceless things."

"My lord," said Mr. Noun, coming forward and speaking in a solemn voice, "I accuse Mr. Adjective of stealing, and wish him to be sent to prison."

"Indeed!" said the Judge; "but he must be tried first, and you must prove him guilty before I have him punished. What do you say he has stolen?"

"My lord, he is constantly stealing my words, and only just now he used these without my leave, in open court: love, grace, beauty, use, home, duty."

"Enough," said the Judge. "I certainly heard him use some such words only just now. Critics," he called to the policemen, for that is the name they have in Grammar-land, "seize Mr. Adjective, and keep him safe until the court meets again, when he shall be tried for stealing." Then turning to the people of Schoolroom-shire, the Judge continued, "My friends, I shall be much obliged if you will look over the following story, and strike out of it all the words belonging to Mr. Adjective. I cannot allow them to remain side by side with other words, until it is proved that Mr. Adjective is not guilty of stealing them."

The Judge then rose, and poor Mr. Adjective was led out of the court, with his hands bound.

You may find the story which the Judge sent to the people of Schoolroom-shire in the Lesson Guide.


Over the two weeks:

  • Read or review the lesson each week.
  • Complete the assigned enrichment activities for each week.


Meet Mr. Adjective, a chatterbox who loves to describe and gossip all about the rich and powerful Mr. Noun's words. Mr. Adjective is accused of stealing words! Help the Judge by striking out all of the adjectives in first activity below. An adjective is a word that modifies a noun or describes a noun’s referent. Examples include big, fast, cold, yellow, old, beautiful, more, that, this, these, two, both, and all.


Activity - Week 1: Identify the Adjectives

Identify the adjectives in the Judge's story so they can be struck out.

  • A long, long time ago, there lived in a grey old castle, a widowed queen, who had one only child, a beautiful bright boy.
  • 'My good husband was killed in the terrible war,' said the grieving queen, 'and if my dear son grows up to be a fighting man, I fear that he will go to the cruel wars, too, and be killed.
  • 'So he shall learn nothing about rough war, but shall be brought up to stay safe at home with me forever.'
  • So she taught him that home was better than the outside world, and she thought he was too quiet to wish to go to war; but one day there came to the great castle gate a noble knight riding a gallant charger.
  • 'Come,' he cried to the young prince, 'come, follow me. I ride to fight with the wicked and strong who are oppressing the weak and the poor.'
  • Up sprang, in a moment, the fair young boy, flung aside his quiet and safe work, seized his father's battered sword, and leaped into the saddle behind the noble knight.
  • 'Farewell, dear mother,' he cried, 'no more staying home for me.
  • 'I must be a brave man, as my father was, and conquer or die in the rightful cause.'
  • Then the queen saw that it was useless to try to keep her adventurous son from the world.

Activity - Week 2: Play Adjective Games

Game 1: With your instructor and fellow students, play the 'I See Something,' adjective game.

  • The person who is 'it' will select a visible object in the room and use only adjectives (e.g. size, color, shape, etc.) to describe it.
  • The one who guesses the object first correctly wins.
  • Repeat so that each student gets a turn as 'it.'

Game 2: With your instructor and fellow students, play the 'Which Animal?' adjective game.

  • The person who is 'it' will select an animal and use only adjectives (e.g. size, color, shape, etc.) to describe it.
  • The one who guesses the animal first correctly wins.
  • Repeat so that each student gets a turn as 'it.'