Adjectives & Possessives

A Sentence-Combining Exercise

Please read the lesson before attempting the exercises. To enter a response, click in the box, type in your answer, and click on the "Check" button.
Directions: Expand the first sentence in each exercise below by including the ideas of the other sentences in the form of adjectives before the appropriate noun. Do not change the meaning of the list of sentences, and do not add ideas.

    The sun sank into the sea.
    The sun was red.
    The sea was placid.
    The red sun sank into the placid sea.


In English, unlike French, a noun is preceded by any modifiers consisting of a single word. Phrases modifying a noun come after the noun in both languages:

    English: a distinguished man of good family
    French: un homme distingué de bonne famille

A great many single modifiers can come before an English noun:

    a dull, muffled, throbbing sound

These modifying words may sometimes be modified by adverbs without having to be shifted behind the noun:

    a somewhat dull, more or less muffled, nearly throbbing sound

However, at some point English speakers grow uncomfortable with phrases coming in front of nouns and will shift them to the other side:

    a sanctioned visit
    a visit sanctioned by the Uraguayan government

One particular kind of modifier, the possessive word or phrase, can be expressed briefly (Aunt Harriet's) or at length (of Aunt Harriet). In its longer form it comes behind the noun it modifies, in its shorter form before it:

    I told her about Aunt Harriet's good fortune.
    I told her about the good fortune of Aunt Harriet.

This first exercise simply acquaints you with possessives as a form of adjective. Later exercises will give you practice in deciding how to construct possessive phrases and where to put them.

    Awkward: Ulysses put wax in the men in his boat's ears.
    Clear: Ulysses put wax in the ears of the men in his boat.