What Is a Proper Adjective?

You may have heard of proper nouns, but have you ever heard of a proper adjective? Typically, proper adjectives take proper nouns and shift their function to fill the role of an adjective, or a word that’s modifying another noun. Let’s take a closer look at exactly what that means.

Like all adjectives, a proper adjective describes (modifies) a noun. What makes proper adjectives unique is that they are formed from proper nouns. That means they must be capitalized. Many proper adjectives are formed using the names of countries (or other specific places), religions or people’s names.

Proper nouns are, in fact, the origin of proper adjectives. Shakespeare is a proper noun, so Shakespearean is a proper adjective.

  • Shakespeare is a specific writer. It is a proper noun because it is the name of a particular person.
  • Shakespeare had a unique writing style, which is referred to as Shakespearean. Shakespearean is not a noun. It is an adjective, as it describes a type of writing.