Are there only-predicative adjectives or can all of them be in both positions?


Most adjectives can be used in the predicative position and in the attributive position but there are a select few adjectives that can only be used in the predicative position.
Predicative-only adjective usually complement the object or the subject.
Below is the list of adjectives that only function predicatively:

  • ashamed
  • alert
  • alive
  • ablaze
  • abreast
  • aghast
  • awake
  • asleep
  • afire
  • alike
  • aware
  • alone
  • afraid
  • aglow
  • afloat
  • aloof
  • unaware
  • fond
  • ill
  • glad

Did you notice that a lot of predicative-only adjectives begin with A?
Here are some examples, notice the positioning of the adjectives:

  • The cat is fond of warm milk at night time.
  • Everybody thinks that the girl is aloof from the group.
  • He is barely keeping his company afloat.
  • She was left alone to work on the project.
  • The missing dog was found alive, five miles away from his home.
  • I’m glad to have such great friends and family.
  • Her mother was ill for a long time, it was very difficult for the family.

There are also a select few adjectives that can only be used attributively. These include:

  • only
  • main
  • chief
  • sheer
  • principal
  • particular
  • utter

Here are some examples:

  • “You still don’t understand the main point” the teacher told the student.
  • The chief ruler of the tribe always has the final say.
  • She was in utter shock when she discovered her company was going bankrupt and she would soon be out of a job.
  • The only child always felt lonely at home.
  • Sharon was the principal earner in her family, without her the family wouldn’t have food on the table or a roof over their heads.
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