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
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