Difference Between Noun and Adjective (With Table)

Adjectives are used to qualify the nouns used in the sentence. This indicates that an adjective cannot be used without a noun, while a noun can be used singularly –without an adjective modifier- in a sentence. This functional variance of each marks the differential border between them.

Noun vs Adjective

The difference between a noun and an adjective is that noun is used to identify a person, place, idea, or object, whereas adjective is used to connote a noun modifier. Adjectives are descriptive terms used in conjunction with nouns to specifically define the noun.

The function of an adjective is to offer more information about the noun. A noun is generally used as a naming word for various entities.

Comparison Table Between Noun and Adjective

Parameters of ComparisonNounAdjective
DefinitionA noun is a word that connotes a particular name, place, idea, or object.An adjective denotes a descriptive word that illustrates the noun used in a sentence.
FunctionalityA noun functions as the subject or object of a sentence.An adjective solely operates as a noun modifier, it cannot be used as the subject or object of a sentence.
DependenceNouns can be used in sentences independently.Adjectives cannot be used without nouns.
Placement in a SentenceNouns can be used anywhere in a sentence.Adjectives are solely used prior to nouns. Their placement cannot be changed.
Sub-ClassificationsSub-categories of nouns include collective, abstract, concrete, proper, etc.Sub-categories of adjectives include descriptive, possessive, indefinite, etc.

What is a Noun?

A noun is defined as a naming word. It is a word used to refer to people, places, ideas, and objects. Nouns are seminal parts of composite speech. The category of nouns is fairly vast and has several sub-divisions including common noun, proper noun, collective noun, concrete noun, abstract noun, and others.

The function and usage of nouns are not limited to simply naming entities, rather they can also be used as objects and subjects in a sentence. Their usage is further widened when they are implemented as noun clauses.

In a sentence, when nouns indicate a class of a person, thing, or object they are known as common nouns. Tree, table, door are some examples of common nouns. When nouns indicate a precise place or name or object, they are classed as proper nouns. Names of individuals (like Tom, John), places around the world (like Delhi, London) and specific objects can fall under this category.

When nouns indicate a large collectivity of naming things, they are called collective nouns. Abstract nouns are used to name intangible ideas. These include nouns like liberty, knowledge, beauty, etc. Conversely, concrete nouns are used to identify concrete and definite objects like a chair, box, girl, etc.

What is an Adjective?

An adjective is a descriptive word that is always used in conjunction with a noun in any given sentence. Adjectives add meaning to the noun used. They provide the reader with supplementary information about the entity referenced by the noun.

Adjectives act as noun modifiers. Adjectives are dependent words, they cannot exist without a preceding noun. Their usage and placement in sentences are defined and fairly unvarying. Adjectives always need to be placed before the noun. Only in extremely rare cases, they are placed after the noun.

Like nouns, adjectives can also be classed into sub-categories. Descriptive adjectives illustrate a particular quality of the entity (name, place, object, or idea) that the noun connotes. Descriptive adjectives include words like thin, tall, short, joyous, melancholy, etc. All these words describe the nouns attached to them. Quantitative adjectives like some, many, few, etc. form a separate sub-category of adjectives.

Adjectives can also be possessive. These words indicate ownership and possession of the noun they precede. His, her, my, etc. can be classed in this category. Another prominent adjective classification category is that of titles. These words describe the personal status of the noun they precede. For instance uncle, duke, lord, etc. are potent instances of such adjectives.

Instances of adjectives and nouns used in sentences:

  1. She is a tall girl.
  2. Here, ‘tall’ is the descriptive adjective and ‘girl’ is the common noun.
  3. Uncle Barney will be traveling to Paris next week.
  4. Here, ‘uncle’ is the adjective connoting a personal title, while ‘Barney‘ and ‘Paris’ are proper nouns.

Main Differences Between Noun and Adjective

  1. The main difference between a noun and an adjective is that a noun can be used to connote a name, place, or object, while an adjective’s use is circumscribed as a noun modifier. It cannot be used to directly reference a name, place, or an inanimate object. Adjectives simply supply the individual with more information about the noun.
  2. The second seminal difference between the two concepts is that a noun can be used without an adjective. However, an adjective cannot be used without a noun in a sentence. It is always dependent on the prior existence of a noun.
  3. The role of each is also fairly different in a given sentence. Nouns act as objects or subjects in sentences and phrases, while adjectives simply act as noun modifiers. They cannot be used as objects or subjects of a sentence without accompanying nouns.
  4. The placement of each is varied. Nouns – because they signify names of people, places or objects, and ideas- can be used anywhere in a sentence. However, that is not the case for adjectives. An adjective can be used only before a noun. Its placement is quite specific and cannot be subject to any change.
  5. The typological subdivision of each category is different. Nouns can be classed as common, proper, collective, abstract, concrete, etc. Adjectives can be grouped as descriptive, possessive, indefinite, etc.


Nouns and adjectives are important parts of speech. Each has a different function and protocol-dictated use in the English language. To use them in accordance with the mandated rules of grammar, one must be able to understand the differences between the two.

Nouns are simply naming words. They signify various people, places, objects, and ideas. The list of nouns and their varied internal subdivisions is quite lengthy. Different forms of a noun are used for different befitting occasions. Adjectives are descriptive noun modifiers. They can only be used in sentences with appropriate nouns. They add meaning to the nouns used.

While certain nouns can be converted into adjectives and some adjectives can be used as nouns, such conversions may not be grammatically acceptable in all circumstances. This makes the need to understand the differences between the two terms extremely potent.


  1. https://www.aclweb.org/anthology/D10-1115.pdf
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0010027702000471
  3. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/016909698386537
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