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.

Remember:

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

A

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."

B

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."

C

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."

D

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."

E

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."

F

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."

G

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!"

H

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."

I

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."

J

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

K

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

L

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."

M

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!"

N

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."

O

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!"

P

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!"

Q

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

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

R

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."

S

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.)

T

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."

U

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."

V

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

W

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?"

Y

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

Essential adjectives exercise

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