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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Let’s examine these examples using negative adjectives:
- That’s dishonourable, Harriet! You cannot plagiarize content without acknowledgement.
- Mark became panicky after his father’s ill-health.
- I find going anywhere in the dark scary.
- Is there something wrong, Anna? You seem so uptight.
- I cannot work with dishonest people. I walk out of such situations immediately.
Here is a list of negative adjectives for you to read and learn from.
I. Identify the negative adjectives in the sentences below.
- She has been working too hard lately. She looks haggard from overwork.
- The chemicals emanating from this plant are noxious.
- Michael had to eventually close down his factory because his shoddy business practices became known to all.
- The appalling conditions in which the factory workers lived had to be changed.
- 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.
- Mark has committed a hideous crime and must do time in prison for it.
- Linda is so callous; she hurts every body’s sentiments.
- The dark clouds look ominous.
- Malicious rumours cannot hurt a reputation that has been carefully built over years.
- John looks belligerent; it looks like his project was not approved.