Skip to content

Proper adjectives

what is a proper adjective definition featured
  1. proper adjective | Proper adjective definition

proper adjectives and proper adjective examples

Proper adjective are adjectives derived from proper nouns. In English, proper adjectives must begin with a capital letter.

The proper adjectives in the following sentences are underlined.

  1. The French town has a fascinating history.
    French is related to the proper noun France.
  2. Many of my friends are American.
    is related to the proper noun America.
  3. This house is a fine example of Victorian architecture.
    Victorian is related to the proper noun Victoria.

In the above sentences as one can see all the proper adjectives (French, American, and Victorian) begin with the capital letter.

Before you read any further it might be a good idea to read about What is Proper Noun.
Recommended Read:Proper Noun With Examples

  1. What is a Proper Adjective?

what is a proper adjective with examples

Definition of proper adjective

Proper adjectives, like all adjectives, modify nouns, but they are different from other adjectives because they are actually formed from proper nouns.


What are nouns?

A noun, we know, is the name of a person, place, or thing.

We can distinguish between two types of nouns: Common nouns and Proper nouns.
Common nouns are general, such as man, street, and city. John, Carnby Street, and France are all proper nouns because they talk about specific people, places, or things. “John” is a particular man, “Carnby Street” is a particular street, and “Paris” is a particular city. Proper nouns are always written with a capital letter in English.

  1. Formation of Proper Adjectives

  • A proper adjective is usually formed by adding an ending to the noun that it is derived from.  The derivation of proper adjectives from proper nouns is somewhat irregular. For instance, the spelling of the following proper nouns and proper adjectives can be compared.
Proper Noun Proper Adjective
  • Many proper adjectives end with “an or ian” as you can see in the above table. However, other endings are also used.

Some of the Most common endings are:

  1. -ian
    For example – “Indian” is derived from the proper noun India.
  2. -an 
    For example – “German” is derived from the proper noun Germany.
  3. -esque
    For example –  “Lincolnesque” can be used if you think that your neighbor resembles Abraham Lincoln.
  4. -ese
    For example – Vietnamese” is derived from the proper noun Vietnam.
  5. -istic
    For example – “Spanish” is derived from the proper noun Spain.
  • Proper adjectives are formed from these proper nouns, and they are also capitalized. They are often made from the names of cities, countries, or regions to describe where something comes from, but they can also be formed from the names of religions, brands, or even individuals.
  1. Proper Adjectives for Countries

  • Many proper adjectives are formed from the names of countries to describe where a person, place, or thing is from. We have seen some examples already.
  • The most common endings for nationalities are -ian/-ean/-an, -ic, ese, and -ish.
  • The reason that English has so many endings for different nationalities is that they are borrowed from other languages. 

In below table the most common endings for nationalities are given:

  1. For Cities

  • Proper adjectives can also describe what city or state/province something or someone comes from. Often, these are formed without an additional ending.

    For example:

“Let’s have a New York bagel for breakfast.”
“She has a real London etiquette.”
  • Other proper adjectives are formed by adding an ending to the name of the city or state, but it’s impossible to learn them all. They’re very irregular. You may find it useful to learn the endings for the most famous cities of the world or the places around where you live.

    Some examples of well-known proper adjectives for cities or states are:

I will never be able to keep up with Parisian fashion.
There is nothing better than Alaskan smoked salmon.
  1. For Regions

Finally, we also have proper adjectives for general geographic regions. For example:

An African elephant.
An Asian person.
A European museum.
A South American blanket.
A Middle Eastern film.
  1. Why do we use proper adjectives?

We use proper adjectives to describe something efficiently, directly, and explicitly. We could manage to avoid them, but it would result in clunky, awkward sentences. Let us see with the help of an example, what if we do not use proper adjectives in a sentence? How it may result?

With Proper Adjective Without Proper Adjective
I love Italian food. I love food that comes from Italy.
How much does this Indian Jewelry cost? How much does this jewelry that comes from China cost?
  • Sentences without proper adjectives are lengthy, awkward, and choppy to read. Usage of proper adjectives Italian and Indian makes our meaning come across much more smoothly.

Proper adjectives are often used in an academic or artistic context when the speaker (or writer) is addressing an audience of his or her peers and knows that they will quickly understand the reference.
For example, the sentence “He writes in an almost Shakespearean style” would frequently be used among scholars of English literature. You would want to avoid the term Shakespearean if you were addressing a group of young students who had not yet heard of the author. Likewise, a group of architects or historians may refer to a “Romanesque building,” while we would want to avoid that term if we were addressing a group that lacks background knowledge in historical architecture.

  1. Proper Adjective Example in sentences

Proper Noun Proper Adjective Example in Sentence
Africa African She loved the African Continent.
Argentina Argentinian The passion of Argentinian football fans knows no bounds.
Alaska Alaskan The Alaskan brown bear is a close cousin of the grizzly bear.
Asia Asian The police are trying to recruit more black and Asian officers.
Brazil Brazilian It was a great showing by the Brazilian team.
Britain British They took him to the British camp.
China Chinese She teaches foreign students Chinese.
Denmark Danish He specializes in translating from Danish into English.
Himalayas Himalayan Many wild species of the sheep and goat tribe are to be found in the Himalayan ranges.
Hungary Hungarian He became a good Hungarian scholar.
Iran Iranian We haven’t crossed the Iranian border yet.
Jamaica Jamaican I had the opportunity to paint a Native Jamaican.
Malaysia Malaysian She works at the Malaysian embassy in London.
Mexico Mexican Main Street Mexican restaurant was uncrowded on this winter evening.
Russia Russian There were two Germans and a Russian officer in the room.
Scotland Scottish A Scottish battalion was marching down the street.
Taiwan Taiwanese Taiwanese opera was a major form of entertainment in early Taiwan society.
Vietnam Vietnamese He was nicknamed Tiger after a Vietnamese soldier.
Zambia Zambian Attempted murder is a capital offense under Zambian law.
  1. Things to Remember

  1. Common Noun as proper noun and proper adjective.

  • There are some common nouns that can act as proper nouns in specific cases and need to be capitalized.

    For example, the adjective native would normally be considered a common noun, as in the sentence.
    I want to practice Spanish with a native speaker.

    Here in this sentence the adjective native isn’t required to be capitalized. It will act simply as a common noun.
  • But Consider the word native in the following sentence.

    The indigenous people of Canada and the United States are commonly referred to as Native Americans.

    In this sentence, Native acts as a proper adjective because it describes a specific group of people, just like Italian or French. Hence it needs to be capitalized.
  1. Prefix with proper adjective

  • When a proper adjective needs a prefix, make sure to place a hyphen between the prefix and the proper adjective. Don’t capitalize the prefix.

    For Example
    He was accused of stirring up antiChinese sentiments.
    I love studying preShakespearean theater.
  • The exception to this rule is if the prefix is formed from a proper noun itself, as in the “Austro-Hungarian empire.” In this example, both Hungarian and its prefix Austro are derived from proper nouns (Hungary and Austria), so they are both capitalized.

  1. Proper Adjectives can be placed after nouns they modify

  • Proper adjectives are generally placed before the noun they modify, but they can also be placed after the noun, provided that there is also a linking verb before them.

For Example

The winning team was Spanish.
The man over there is Italian.
The monks in this monastery are Buddhist.

All of the above sentence are correct. Spanish, Italian, Buddhist are the proper adjectives and underlined words (was, is, are) are the linking verbs.

  1. other Types of Adjectives

types of adjectives in hindi
  1. Proper Adjective.
  2. Adjective of Quality.
  3. Adjective of Quantity.
  4. Adjective of Number.
  5. Demonstrative Adjective.
  6. Interrogative Adjective.
  7. Emphasizing Adjective.
  8. Exclamatory Adjective.
  9. Possessive Adjective.

Recommended Read: Types Of Adjectives with Examples

Congratulations, you have read the complete article. If you have any doubts or queries, feel free to comment below. We will respond as soon as possible.

Or Email Us At [email protected]

More Articles: 

Types of adjectives What are adjectives?
Adjective of Quantity Adjective of Quality
Adjective of Number Interrogative Adjective

Any topic you want us to cover. Let us know.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *