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Negative Adjective

What is a Negative Adjective?
A negative adjective describes a person, thing or event in a negative way. It offers the opposite position of a positive adjective.

Let’s look at an example:

               I refused to eat the unwholesome food served at the restaurant.

In the sentence above, unwholesome is an adjective that speaks negatively of food.

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Types of Negative Adjectives

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A negative adjective can be formed in a number of ways:

1. Find the Antonym

One of the common ways of forming a negative adjective is to locate an antonym for the positive position. 

For example,
  • Susan was difficult to talk to; she was a rude girl. [We use rude (antonym of polite)]
  • We wondered if Tom could climb the steep hill due to his delicate health. [We use delicate (antonym of healthy)]

2. Use a Prefix

Negative adjectives can also be formed by preceding the adjective with a prefix such as dis, un, mis, anti and im

For example,

  • You must check your facts; you are completely misinformed about the project.
  • Here, adding the prefix mis suggests that one has wrong information about something.
  • Other such words include disinclined, unqualified, immature, imperfect, and anti-inflammatory

3. Insert ‘not’

In situations where there is no antonym available, a negative adjective can be created by inserting the word ‘not’ before the adjective.
For example,
  • My mother is not happy with me as I have made a mess of my room. (Here, the phrase “not happy” has more emotional weight than the nearly similar phrase, unhappy.)
  •  My husband is not worried about losing his job as he is sure to find a suitable one soon. (Here, none of the possible antonyms such as fearless, intrepid, or undaunted sound right)

4. Use Comparative Language

Another way to form a negative adjective is by using comparative language. Comparative words such as more, most, less, and least moderate the adjective’s original meaning. 

For example,
  • My friend has become less attentive these days. It could be because of work pressure at office.
  • Ever since the realization that life is short and unpredictable, my husband has become more attentive.

Negative Adjective Examples

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Let’s examine these examples using negative adjectives:
  1. That’s dishonourable, Harriet! You cannot plagiarize content without acknowledgement.
  2. Mark became panicky after his father’s ill-health.
  3. I find going anywhere in the dark scary.
  4. Is there something wrong, Anna? You seem so uptight.
  5. I cannot work with dishonest people. I walk out of such situations immediately.

Negative Adjectives List

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Here is a list of negative adjectives for you to read and learn from.

             A                          F                        M                       S                       Y           
 adverse   faulty   mean   scary   yell 
 alarming   feeble   menacing   severe   yucky 
 annoy  filthy  messy  shoddy   Z
 appalling   foul  N  spiteful  zero
 B  G  nasty  T  
 bad  ghastly   naughty  tense  
 banal  grim  negate  terrible  
 barbed  grimace   noxious  terrifying   
 belligerent   grotesque   O  threatening   
 C  H  objectionable   U  
 callous  haggard  odious  undermine  
 coarse  hideous  offensive  unfair  
 corrupt  horrible  oppressive  unjust  
 creepy  hostile  P  V  
 D  I  pessimistic  vice  
 decaying  ignorant  poisonous  vicious  
 damage  impossible   prejudice  vile  
 dastardly  inane  Q  villainous  
 deplorable  injurious  questionable  vindictive  
 E  J  quit  W  
 enraged  jealous  R  weary  
 eroding  junky  reject  wicked  
 evil  L  repulsive  worthless  
   lousy  ruthless    

Test Yourself

I. Identify the negative adjectives in the sentences below.
  1. She has been working too hard lately. She looks haggard from overwork.
  2. The chemicals emanating from this plant are noxious.
  3. Michael had to eventually close down his factory because his shoddy business practices became known to all.
  4. The appalling conditions in which the factory workers lived had to be changed.
  5. Alice was enraged with her brother for spoiling her carefully made project on insects.
II. Underline the negative adjectives and circle the noun they modify.
  1. Mark has committed a hideous crime and must do time in prison for it.
  2. Linda is so callous; she hurts every body’s sentiments.
  3. The dark clouds look ominous.
  4. Malicious rumours cannot hurt a reputation that has been carefully built over years.
  5. John looks belligerent; it looks like his project was not approved.
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