Learn 165 Essential English adjectives

Here's a list of important adjectives to help you talk about different things.

Note: many adjectives (such as adjectives to describe colour, people and feelings) are not included in this list.


Adjectives don't change their endings for singular / plural nouns.
A big house / Two big houses.

The a / an pronunciation rule applies to adjectives that start with a vowel / consonant sound before a singular, countable noun:

a happy girl
an interesting man


active = someone who is active does lots of things. "He's active in the community."

afraid = scared / frightened: "Are you afraid of spiders?"

amazing = fantastic / great: "We had an amazing holiday."

angry = not pleased: "The teacher was angry with the students and gave them extra homework."

anxious = worried / nervous: "She always feels anxious before an exam."

awful = very bad: "The weather was awful. It rained every day."


bad = not good: "The food in that restaurant is very bad. Don't go there!"

brave = courageous: "He's a very brave boy and isn't scared of the dark."

brilliant = excellent: "We had a brilliant time on holiday!"

beautiful = very pretty to look at: "His wife is a beautiful woman."

big: "London is a very big city."

boring = not interesting: "The lesson was boring."

busy = lots of things to do: "I'm very busy at the moment."
(Also places can be busy: "Be careful of the traffic here. This is a busy street with lots of cars."


calm = not noisy or worried: "If there's a fire, remember to stay calm. Walk, don't run."

careful = pay attention when you do something: "Be careful when you take the Underground. Make sure your bag is closed."

certain = sure: "I'm certain that it will snow tonight. It's already very cold."

cheap = not expensive: "I like going swimming. It's quite a cheap way to keep fit."

cheerful = happy, usually smiling: "He's quite a cheerful person and I never see him looking sad."

clean = not dirty: "The classrooms in this school are always very clean."

clever = intelligent: "She's a clever student. We think she'll get As in all her exams."

closed = not open: "We got here too late – the shop's closed!"

cold = not warm or hot: "It can be cold in the UK in winter."

comfortable = easy to wear or to sit in, for example: "My shoes aren't comfortable to walk in. They're too small."

common = usual, not rare: "Wrong tense use is a common problem in English grammar."

complicated = not simple: "He has a complicated love life!"

complete = total: "It's a complete waste of time watching this TV programme."
Also "finished": "The building work on our new house is now complete."

confident = sure of yourself: "He's a confident swimmer."

correct = right: "His homework is always correct."

crowded = lots of people: "Oxford Street is always crowded with shoppers before Christmas."


dangerous = not safe: "Be careful when you cross the road. It's dangerous here."

dark = not light: "She has dark hair and dark eyes."
"It was dark when I woke up."

delicious = tastes very good: "Try some of this chocolate cake – it's delicious!"

different = not the same: "He's different to his brother."

difficult = not easy: "The Maths exam was difficult and I only got 5 / 10."

dirty = not clean: "I hate cooking in a dirty kitchen."

dry = not wet: "The weather in winter is cold and dry."


early = not late: "She gets up very early, at about 5am every day."

easy = not complicated or difficult: "The English exam is easy – don't worry!"

empty = nothing or nobody there: "The room was empty, with no furniture in it at all."

enormous = very big: "He gave her an enormous bunch of flowers for her birthday."

essential = very important: "It's essential that you learn these words!"

excellent = very good: "You gave an excellent presentation last week. Everybody was pleased."

exciting = makes your heart beat fast: "The football match is very exciting."

expensive = costs a lot of money: "It's too expensive to go on holiday to the US this year."


fair = light: "She has fair hair."
Also "just": "It's not fair if you give him £10 and me only £5."

far = a long distance: "New York is far from Los Angeles."

fast = quick: "She's a fast worker. She always finishes her work before the others."

fantastic = excellent: "I've got some fantastic news!"

friendly = open with other people: "He's friendly and always says hello."

frightening = makes you afraid: "Horror films are frightening."

full = opposite of empty: "The cinema was full and there were no free seats."

funny = amusing: "He's a funny comedian."


generous = when you give lots to others: "He's a generous father and gives his children lots of pocket money."

good = positive: "He's a good student."
"Salad is good for you."

great = very good: "Her exam results are great. We're very happy!"


handsome = good-looking (for a man): "He's a very handsome actor. All the women love him!"

hard = difficult: "Do you think that English is hard?"
Also rigid / strong to touch: "A helmet is like a hard hat that you wear when you ride a bike or motorbike."

happy = pleased, in a good mood: "I was happy when I passed my driving test."

healthy = good for your body: "She's a healthy person and exercises every day."

heavy = weigh a lot: "These potatoes are very heavy."

helpful = when you help people: "He's very helpful to his parents and often does things for them."

high = not low: "These mountains are quite high. We're at 1500 m above sea level here."

horrible = not nice: "The food was horrible. I couldn't eat it."

hot = opposite of cold: "It's hot in summer in the Mediterranean, with temperatures up to 40C."

huge = very big: "Their house is huge! They have ten bedrooms and eight bathrooms."

hungry = when you need to eat: "He didn't eat breakfast and was hungry by 11 am."

ignorant = when you don't know things: "I feel very ignorant about science and engineering."


ill = not well: "She's ill. I think she's got the flu."

important = with a big influence: "He's an important politician."
"English is an important language."

interesting = when you want to know more about something: "She's an interesting person. She lived abroad for many years and had lots of interesting experiences."


jealous = when you want something that another person has: "I'm jealous of your success in the company. I'd also like a promotion!"


kind = nice to other people: "She's kind to her patients in the hospital and always makes sure they are comfortable."


late = not on time: "You're ten minutes late to class"

large = big: "There's a large parcel for you. Is it your birthday?"

lazy = not work or inactive: "My students are lazy and never do their homework!"

light = not dark: "It's still quite light outside. Do you want to go for a walk?"
not heavy: "I can carry the shopping. The bag's quite light."

little = small: "He's still a little boy and doesn't understand that fire is dangerous."

long = not short: "That film is very long – it's four hours!"

lovely = very nice or pretty: "It's a lovely idea to buy her a spa membership. I think she'll really enjoy it."

low = not high: "The coffee table is quite low."


main = principal, important: "The main reason we're here is to learn English!"

modern = not old-fashioned: "Modern technology is fantastic. We can contact friends immediately!"


narrow = not wide: "These shoes are too narrow for my feet. They're not very comfortable."

nasty = not nice: "She has a nasty virus and needs to stay at home for a week."
(Also people can be nasty.)

near = not far: "The town is near the beach. It's about a kilometre."

neat = tidy, organised: "Her desk is very neat. I can't find anything on mine!"

necessary = important for something: "A passport is necessary if you want to travel to other countries."

nervous = worried / anxious: "He was nervous before the wedding."

new = not old: "I want a new car. Mine is very old now."

nice = kind or pleasant: "She's a nice person and she tries to help when she can."
"It's nice weather today. What about going for a bike ride?"

noisy = not quiet: "There are cars and buses on this road all day and all night. It's really noisy!"
"My students are very noisy today. They can't keep quiet for five minutes."

normal = usual: "It's normal to feel stressed when you have a lot of work."


old = opposite of young: "My grandmother is quite old now and she finds it difficult to walk."

open = not closed: "Is this shop still open?"

ordinary = nothing special: "I have a very ordinary life. I'm quite boring, really!"


perfect = when something is 100%: "Her clothes and hair are always perfect!"

pleased = happy about something: "I'm so pleased you passed your exam!"

polite = good manners: "It's polite to say thank you when someone gives you something."

poor = not rich: "She lives in a poor part of the city."

popular = lots of people like it: "This is a popular holiday destination."

possible = can happen: "He's a possible player for the football team."
"Do you think it's possible that we'll have another earthquake soon?"

pretty = good-looking (but not for men): "She's a pretty girl and she's got lots of admirers!"
"This is such a pretty town!"


quick = fast: "She's a quick worker and always finishes on time."

quiet = not noisy: "It's very quiet here at night."


rare = not usual or common: "These birds are rare in the UK. You're lucky to see them!"

ready = prepared: "Are you ready for the test?"

real = true: "He's a real friend."

relaxing = something makes you feel relaxed and not stressed: "Have a nice, hot relaxing bath!"

rich = with lots of money: "He's a rich businessman."

right = correct: "You're right. It's an easy exercise."
"It isn't right that some people are so rich when others are so poor."

romantic = show love: "He's a romantic person and often gives his wife flowers."
"Win a romantic holiday for two in our competition!"

rude = not polite: "It's rude not to say please and thank you in English."


sad = unhappy: "When her grandfather died she was very sad."

safe = secure: "It's quite a safe city to live in."

same = identical: "This is the same problem that we had before."

scared = afraid / frightened: "She heard a noise and was scared."

serious = important: "He's a serious student and works hard."

short = not long: "This is a short story. It's only ten pages long."
Also = not tall: "She's quite short."

shut = closed: "The restaurant is shut. Lets go to McDonalds."

shy = timid, not confident: "He's quite shy and doesn't like talking to people he doesn't know."

silent = no noise at all: "This new car is silent."

silly = not serious: "Her students can be quite silly at times."

similar = not different: "The two sisters are very similar."

simple = not complicated: "The Maths test is quite simple – don't worry!"

slow = not fast: "He's a slow eater. It takes him an hour to eat dinner."

small = not big: "The kitchen is quite small but we also have a dining room."

smart = intelligent: "She's a smart student and I think she'll pass her exams."

soft = not hard: "My sofa is soft and comfortable."

special = different (in a good way): "We have a special menu on St Valentine's day."

stupid = not clever: "That was a stupid thing to do!"

straight = in a vertical or horizontal line: "She has long, straight hair."

strange = unusual: "He has a strange accent. Where is he from?"

strong = powerful: "I need a strong man to help me move this wardrobe!"
"I don't drink strong coffee."

sunny = when there is sun: "It's lovely and sunny today – lets go to the beach."
(Also a happy person is "sunny".)

sure = positive / certain: "I'm sure he'll be fine on holiday alone."

surprising = something you don't expect: "I loved the film, and the end is surprising."

sweet = kind and nice: "She's a very sweet girl and her teachers love her!"
(Also "with sugar": He loves sweet things to eat.)


terrible = very bad: "Your exam results are terrible!"

terrifying = very frightening: "The film was absolutely terrifying!"

tidy = everything in the right place: "His bedroom is very tidy."

tiny = very small: "Our flat is tiny, but it's in central London."

tired = after physical or mental work: "I was tired after walking for 10 km."

tough = hard: "The selection process to get into the Army is tough."
"This meat is tough. I can't eat it."


ugly = the opposite of beautiful: "This building is very ugly."

uncomfortable = not comfortable: "My bed is uncomfortable and it's difficult to sleep well."

unfair = not fair: "It's unfair to give him extra money, but her nothing."

unkind = not kind: "He's unkind to his children and never helps them."

unhappy = not happy, sad: "He was unhappy at school when he broke up with his girlfriend."

unhealthy = not good for your body: "Chips and coca cola are unhealthy!"

unsure = not sure: "I'm unsure about my future."

untidy = not tidy: "Please clear up your bedroom. It's really untidy!"

usual = normal: "The usual people came to the meeting."

useful = practical: "It's useful to be able to drive."
"This is a useful object in the kitchen."

useless = to not be any good: "I'm useless at Maths."

unusual = not usual: "He has some unusual skills."


various = several different: "There are various ways you can get to London from here."


warm = between hot and cold: "It's quite warm today."
Also friendly: "She's a warm person and easy to talk to."

weak = not strong: "She felt weak after the operation."
"Do you prefer weak tea or strong tea?"

wet = not dry – with liquid: "Be careful – the floor is wet."

well = not ill: "How are you?" "Very well, thanks."

whole = complete: "They ate the whole cake!"

wide = with a big distance between the two points: "The river is wide at this point."

wonderful = excellent: "She got a wonderful birthday present from her parents."

wrong = not right or correct: "How many wrong answers did you get in the quiz?"


young = not old: "When you're young you don't worry so much about risks."

Essential adjectives exercise

Click the Start button below to begin the exercise. For each question, select the missing word from the choices. Then click the arrow on the right to go to the next question.

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