Speech

How To Effectively Use Adjectives and Adverbs To Improve your Speech And Sound Smarter

Being able to relay your ideas clearly and confidently, without stumbling over your words, is a skill that comes in handy in many instances. Whether you are a native English speaker or English is your second language, we all want to communicate our thoughts and intentions as clearly as possible to those around us.

To speak concisely, we must first know about the different components of sentences, including adjectives and adverbs. Adjectives and adverbs are essentially descriptive words that can enhance the quality of the information you provide, as long as you do not overwhelm your audience with unnecessary descriptions. 

Speaking concisely can be challenging, but knowing how to utilize the different parts of speech, including adjectives and adverbs, can help improve your speech and make you sound more intelligent. We will discuss what adjectives and adverbs are and how to use the different adjectives and adverbs to improve speech and sound smarter.


What are Adjectives and Adverbs?

Adjectives are words or phrases that describe or modify nouns and to make it easier to memorize their usefulness let us call them noun-modifiers. There are at least eleven different types of adjectives. On the other hand, adverbs are words or phrases that modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs, and there are at least five different types of adverbs. Both adjectives and adverbs are used to add additional information or context and make it more straightforward for your audience to understand what you’re saying.

Adverbs often end in –ly, although not always, and in fact, you can often change an adjective to an adverb by adding –ly. For example, “the man walks slow” vs. “the man walks slowly.” Slow would be an adjective, while slowly would be classified as an adverb in this case.


Different Types of Adjectives and How to Use Them Effectively

As I mentioned earlier, there are eleven different types of adjectives: They include:

Possessive adjectives

Demonstrative

Descriptive

Proper

Interrogative

Predicate

Indefinite

Quantitative

Coordinate

Compound

Article

Possessive adjectives are modifiers that demonstrate ownership of a noun and show that something belongs to somebody. The most common possessive adjectives include my, your, his, her, its, our, and their. For example, “this is a chai latte” vs. “this is my chai latte.” The second phrase shows ownership of the latte and that it’s no longer just ‘a’ latte but is claimed. Taking out the possessive adjective would leave the phrase not making much sense: “this is chai latte.” It is crucial to properly utilize possessive adjectives in speech to clarify who owns what to your audience and give them more specific details.


A demonstrative adjective modifies a noun merely by pointing to it rather than describing it. The most common demonstrative adjectives are ‘this’ and ‘that.’ Using demonstrative adjectives is especially helpful when you want to clarify which person or thing you are talking about. For example, your audience can understand that this friend to your right on the couch is different from that friend on the floor, just by using the adjectives ‘this’ and ‘that.’ Another example might be: “I like the tree” vs. “I like that tree.” In the first example, it could be confusing which tree you are talking about, whereas using a demonstrative adjective in the second one clarifies which tree you are referring to. Being able to deliberately and adequately employ demonstrative adjectives will refine your speech and make you sound smarter.


A descriptive adjective adds meaning to a noun by describing its qualities and is one of the most commonly used types of adjectives. There are many examples of descriptive adjectives, including brave, pretty, aggressive, determined, nervous, and thoughtful, to describe people or personalities and things like round, broad, wide, deep, tiny, and massive to describe places and things. An example of a descriptive adjective in a sentence is: “Lynn is a beautiful person.” Of course, it would still make sense without the word ‘beautiful’ since Lynn is a human, but the statement would not have the same impact or overall meaning. In this way, descriptive adjectives can be essential to integrate into our speech patterns so people can understand what we are trying to say to the fullest extent.


Proper adjectives are formed from a proper noun and modify nouns just like adjectives. They must be capitalized, and some examples of proper adjectives in phrases are the Great Wall of China, Canadian Prime Minister, and Freudian slip. In these examples, the proper adjectives are Great, Canadian, and Freudian. Each of the statements could stand on its own without these proper adjectives, but the overall meaning and intention of the phrase would be lost. For example, it would no longer be the Great Wall of China but could potentially be any wall in China. Proper adjectives are necessary in speech to relay your ideas while not losing the overall intention of what you are trying to say so you come across smarter.

An interrogative adjective modifies a noun by asking a question. The most common interrogative adjectives are what, which, and whose, with some others being where, why, and how. Take the examples: “what is your name?” “which option do you prefer?” and “whose bag is that?” In this case, the interrogative adjectives are what, which, and whose, and are being used to find out further information about the situation. Oftentimes, the interrogative adjectives what and which can be used interchangeably, except for when the amount of possible answers is unknown or unlimited, then you use what instead of which. For example, “what restaurant are we going to?” vs. “which restaurant are we going to?” In this case, using ‘which’ implies there is a finite number or limited amount of restaurant options, whereas using ‘what’ signifies that the possibilities are endless. In order to improve your speech and sound smarter, it is crucial to recognize how and when to employ different interrogative adjectives.  


A predicate adjective is an adjective that follows a linking verb and modifies the subject of the linking verb. In the example, “her outfit is weird,” the word weird is the predicate adjective that modifies the subject, ‘her,’ of the linking verb, ‘is.’ In this case, the predicate adjective adds descriptive information and allows the audience to understand what the speaker thinks. However, if the sentence was re-arranged, to begin with, “her weird outfit is…” then the word weird no longer functions as a predicate adjective. Compound predicate adjectives can also be commonly found in English phrases such as “He is tall, dark, and handsome.” Similar to the first example, ‘he’ is the subject being modified by the linking verb ‘is,’ and the predicate adjectives are ‘tall,’ ‘dark,’ and ‘handsome.’ Knowing about predicate adjectives and using them in your everyday speech can help you convey your ideas more clearly and sound more intelligent.


An indefinite adjective modifies nouns in a non-specific manner and is used to talk about people or things in a general way without saying exactly who or what they are. Some examples of indefinite adjectives are enough, both, either, another, and one, with the most common ones being any, each, few, many, much, most, several, and some. An example of an indefinite adjective in a sentence is: “There is some food on the table.” In this case, ‘some’ is the indefinite adjective and signifies an amount, although that amount is not specified. Furthermore, the sentence would have a similar impact without the word ‘some’: “There is food on the table.” This point exemplifies the necessity of employing indefinite adjectives only when they clarify your message to avoid wordiness in your speech which helps you sound smarter.


A quantitative adjective is a word that modifies a noun by indicating a number or quantity. Quantitative adjectives can either be cardinal numbers, one, two, three, or ordinal numbers, first, second, third. For example, in the phrases “they have 50 cows” and “she won first place,” the words 50 and first are the quantitative adjectives. In both cases, the addition of the quantitative adjective is crucial to relay the message properly. Quantitative adjectives even include words like ‘whole’ and ‘half,’ meaning another example of using a quantitative adjective in a sentence could be: “I ate the whole loaf of bread.” In this example, the word ‘whole’ is not as critical of an indicator; either way, it sounds like the person ate the entire loaf, but the adverb ‘whole’ emphasizes that the bread is completely gone in one sitting. Understanding these various nuances can help you effectively utilize quantitative adjectives and improve your speaking to sound smarter overall.

Coordinate adjectives are a series of two or more adjectives that independently modify a noun and are roughly equal in importance. They can be joined by ‘and,’ or separated by commas. For example, in the phrase “what a gratifying and productive day,” the words ‘gratifying’ and ‘productive’ are the coordinate adjectives modifying the noun, and they are separated by ‘and.’ Coordinate adjectives are great to emphasize a point or when one adjective does not quite describe your noun but adding a second one does. Using coordinate adjectives in your speech patterns confidently can make you sound like a more competent speaker and help you relay your ideas more clearly.

Compound adjectives are formed when two or more adjectives are joined together by a hyphen to modify the same noun. For example, in the phrase “remember the 6-foot rule,” the hyphenated words ‘6’ and ‘foot’ are the compound adjectives that modify the word ‘rule.’ Without the compound adjectives in this sentence, the person could be talking about any rule. This example shows how important compound adjectives can be when trying to properly relay information to your listener and sound smarter.  

Article adjectives are a special type of adjective used in front of most nouns to specify the noun. There are three articles: ‘a,’ ‘an,’ and ‘the.’ If you miss an article adjective in your sentence, it may no longer make sense. For example, “I need a phone” vs. “I need phone.” However, it all depends on the context of the sentence. In a similar example, the article ‘a’ does not make sense: “Pass the phone” vs. “Pass a phone.” In this example, using the article ‘the’ properly specifies or modifies the noun ‘phone,’ while the article ‘a’ leaves room for someone to wonder which phone they are supposed to pass. Article adjectives can be the most challenging for non-native English speakers to understand, so mastering the use of these can significantly improve your speech and how smart you sound while speaking.

Different Types of Adverbs and How to Use Them Effectively

There are five different types of adverbs, including time, frequency, place, manner, and degree.

Adverbs of time tell the listener when, how long, or how often a specific action has occurred, and they work best at the start or end of sentences. For example, the adverbs in the phrases “I clean daily” and “tomorrow we leave” are the words ‘daily’ and ‘tomorrow.’ Furthermore, adverbs of time such as ‘later’ can be used at different points in a sentence and still make sense. For example, “later I will do the dishes” vs. “I will do the dishes later.” The first one sounds more confident and definitive, while the second one may sound more dismissive. Understanding how to use adverbs effectively and where to place them in a sentence for emphasis can help you speak more clearly and come across as more intelligent.  


Adverbs of frequency are similar to adverbs of time since they tell us how often something happens. Some of the main adverbs of frequency are hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, and annually. Once again, adverbs of frequency generally appear at the beginning or end of sentences; unless the adverb ends in –ly, then it will come at the end. For example, “I work 8 hours daily” vs. “Daily, I work 8 hours.” The first phrase utilizes the adverb ‘daily’ properly, while the second phrase sounds disjointed and is incorrect. Having the ability to recognize where to place the adverb of frequency in a sentence can improve the flow of your speech and make you sound smarter overall.

Adverbs of place change or modify the meaning of a sentence by telling us where things happen. They can include adverbs of direction, movement, and location. For example, take the phrases “the elevator goes up,” “she moved forwards,” and “it’s behind you.” These examples include adverbs of place and, more specifically, adverbs of direction, movement, and location, in the words ‘up,’ ‘forwards,’ and ‘behind,’ respectively. Without these adverbs of place, the person or thing being described would have no fixed reference point and could be moving anywhere. Using adverbs of place appropriately in your speech will make you sound smarter and help your listeners understand you better.


Adverbs of manner describe how and in what way the action of a verb is carried out. As mentioned, adverbs often end in –ly, and some common adverbs of manner are: poorly, greatly, badly, rarely, regularly, and accidentally. For example, “the child accidentally fell” vs. “the child fell.” In the first phrase, the word accidentally provides more context and signals that it was not done on purpose, whereas the second phrase does not specify if it was an accident. Being able to use adverbs of manner to emphasize how something occurs deliberately can make you sound more intelligent and improve your speech patterns.

Lastly, adverbs of degree help to express how much, or to what extent, something occurs. The main adverbs of degree are: almost, extremely, fully, quite, and too. For example, “they are too careless” or “she was fully prepared.” The adverbs of degree respectively are ‘too’ and ‘fully,’ and they are used to express the extent to which the noun is being modified. Both phrases could function without the adverbs, but including the adverbs of degree allows the listener to understand how much something is happening more clearly. Integrating adverbs of degree into your vocabulary can help to improve your speech, come across more clearly to your listeners, and sound smarter.


Final Thoughts

Another great thing about learning how to effectively use adjectives and adverbs in speech, especially for those studying the language, is that adjectives and adverbs reflect how people actually speak. For example, authors will use specific adjectives and adverbs to make their content more relatable to their target audience. Similarly, public speakers will do the same thing with their speeches. Since adjectives and adverbs reflect how people actually speak, new English learners can study these phrases and attain a firmer grasp of the English language, and sound more intelligent when speaking.


As you can see, there are many ways to use adjectives and adverbs to improve your speech and sound more brilliant. One primary way to be a powerful speaker is to choose your adjectives and adverbs deliberately and not overuse them. For example, instead of saying, “this evening was exciting, lively, and amazing,” you could say, “this evening was brilliant.” You no longer need three decent words to describe how the evening was by choosing a stronger adjective. When you take the time to consider which adjectives and adverbs you are going to utilize and employ them deliberately for your audience or listener, it will convey your ideas much more clearly and intentionally and make you sound smarter.

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