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How to Use Limiting Adjectives for English

Updated: Jan 10, 2022

The Explanation

Unlike the Adjectives, which are used to describe something, the Limiting Adjectives are used to define the noun rather than describe it. In other words, the Limiting Adjectives help to describe or limit the noun. Limiting adjectives either point out or set a numerical limit to define the noun.

Various types and uses of the Limiting Adjectives

Among the several types and uses of Limiting Adjectives, the major ones are-

  • Article Adjectives

The Articles ‘a’, ‘an’, and ‘the’ used in the English language are the limiting adjectives since that are specifically used to show that the speaker or writer is referring to a specific thing and define whether the noun is used indefinitely or definitely.


  • 'We brought home the cat just yesterday, and she is already a part of the family.'

In the example above, the phrase 'the cat' shows a Limiting Adjective in the form of the word 'the.' It refers to the specific cat since it helps describe the noun, 'cat.'

Similar to the use of ‘the’ the articles 'a' and 'an' are used as the Limiting Adjectives to define a noun.


  • A third-party panel issued a tough report.

In this example, the article “A” serves to limit the noun, “panel”

Important Note:

One of the important points to keep in mind is that although the article is a limiting adjective, it actually acts more as a signal that a limitation can be made rather than setting the limit itself.

  • Possessive Adjectives

These are another type of limiting adjective, used in the form of words that show possession. Examples of such words include 'My,' 'it's,' 'our, 'his,' 'her,' and 'your'.

e. g.:

  • 'The squirrel chewed up my new bag,'

In the above example, the word 'my' is a possessive adjective that tells us who owns the bag. Since it limits the noun to the ownership of a specific person, it is a Limiting adjective.

Cardinal and Ordinal Adjectives are the types of Limiting Adjectives that tell us how many of something.


  • 'After 1 week, I will come back to India to visit my family.'

In the example above, the number 12 describes or limits the number of days until I visit my family in India. Hence, the number 12 is a cardinal adjective.


  • 'On the third day of January, I will go for the vacation.'

In the example above, the word 'third' is an ordinal adjective. First, second, third and so on, are examples of the ordinal adjective.

  • Interrogative Adjectives

These Limiting adjectives are used in asking a question (which, what)


They’ve still got the shortlist candidates for the play, but which one can save the show?

  • Pronominal Adjectives

These are the limiting adjectives that may be used as a pronoun. In other words, if they stood alone they would be pronouns, but when attached to a noun, they become limiting pronouns.


  • Never really getting any real chances, the boy couldn’t convert on either opportunity.

In the example above, when used alone “either” acts as a distributive pronoun; however, in conjunction with the noun, it serves as a pronominal adjective.

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