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How to Use Proper Adjectives for English

The Explanation

A proper adjective is a modifier that is formed from a proper noun. Like adjectives, proper adjectives are used to modify nouns and pronouns. Proper adjectives are used to explicitly and directly describe something. Although it is similar to any adjective that describes a noun, however, this is a much more specific technique to describe a noun.

Most of the proper adjectives identify people, languages, places, or groups. Below are some of the examples of the proper adjectives that are used to describe nouns that are of certain cultures.


Proper noun: America

  • Joe lives in America.

Proper adjective: American

  • The Fourth of July is an American holiday

Proper noun: Italy

  • My father was born in Italy

Proper adjective: Italian

  • My family loves Italian food

How to form a Proper Adjective

Proper Adjectives can be formed by taking a proper noun and adding the suffixes –‘ian’, –‘an’, or –‘esque’. These suffixes work to convert a proper noun into a proper adjective.


  • Shakespeare is the proper noun

  • Shakespearian is the proper adjective


  • Canada is the proper noun

  • Canadian is the proper adjective.

The Use of Proper Adjectives

The proper adjectives are used to describe something more efficiently and directly. If we want to express the same meaning as the example sentence, we could write it more efficiently using Proper Adjectives.


  • I love Italian food is better and direct than I love food that comes from Italy.”

The List of Proper Adjectives

Since the proper adjectives are adjectives derived from proper nouns, there are a large number of them.


  • The common Proper Adjectives are the ones derived from a country or people group like American, Spanish, French, Norwegian, Colombian, Chinese, Russian, Chinese etc

Below are some of the rules while using Prefixes and hyphens with proper adjectives-

1. We do not capitalize the letter with a prefix used with a proper adjective unless the prefix comes from a proper noun.


  • pre-Christian (pre is not capitalized)

  • pan-European culture (pan is not capitalized)

  • Afro-Caribbean (here Afro is capitalized because it is derived from Africa, a proper noun)

2. In a hyphenated word, only the proper adjective is capitalized


  • Spanish-speaking country

Example of Proper Adjective sentences

Below are some of the examples of proper Adjective sentences-

Proper Noun Proper Adjective Example Sentence

  • Italy Italian Joe loves Italian food.

  • Christ Christian In Europe, there are many Christian churches.

  • Shakespeare Shakespearean He has an ultimate Shakespearean style of writing

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