Adjectives are words added to nouns to qualify them or to limit their denotation by reference to quality, number or position.
Bridge of Craigisla, Angus
Adjectives are usually formed from nouns and verbs by adding <-ie> or where words are shared with or similar to Standard English <-y> may be used.
The internal inconsistency caused by unpredictably using <-ie> or<-y> will be found on this site. Some writers simply use one or the other.
A creashie cloot.
A greasy cloth.
A stany gate.
A stony road.
The duddie claes.
The ragged clothes.
The stourie brace.
The dusty mantlepiece.
The grippy puggie
The grasping monkey.
The present participles of verbs (-in) may also be used as adjectives.
The rummlin brig.
The rumbling bridge.
A stoondin blaw.
A stunning blow.
Thae claes is lowpin.
Those clothes are full of lice etc.
A kittlin pair o buits
A (very) small pair of boots.
The past participles of verbs may also be used as adjectives. The forms end in in (e)n being the most common.
The thruishen corn.
The threshed grain.
The feart laddie.
The scared boy.
The drucken mannie.
The drunk man.
The cuisten baw.
The cast ball.
The shoddit horse.
The shod horse.
The thrawn wifie.
The obstinate woman.
The droukit dug.
The soaked dog.
The soopit fluir.
The swept floor.
Suffixes and prefixes
Adjectives may also be formed by adding the suffixes <-n> and <-en> or <-ern> to nouns.
The stanern waw.
The stone wall.
The treen buirds.
The wooden boards.
A straen tattie-bogle.
A straw scarecrow.
A ooen dishcloot.
A woollen dishcloth.
The suffix <lin> or <lins> signifies 'direction', 'manner', 'condition' or 'degree'.
It's a snell eastlin wind.
It is a fierce east wind.
The hauflins laddie.
The half-grown boy.
He wis blindlins fou yestreen.
He was blind drunk last night.
The caller nor'lin wind blew 'ithoot lissins.
The fresh north wind blew without respite.
The fishwifes wis sellin wastlin herrin.
The fishwives were selling west-coast herring.
Scots inscribed dog bowl
The suffix <fu> implies the subjective condition.
A fearfu wee dug.
A timid little dog.
The suithfu chield.
The honest fellow.
The waefu weedae.
The melancholy widow.
Awfu dreich wather.
Awfully dreary weather.
The thochtfu Dominie.
The thoughtful headmaster.
An awfu mishanter.
An awful mishap.
The suffix <some> also implies the subjective condition.
A gruesome carline.
A ghastly old woman.
A braw lichtsome day.
A beautiful joyous day.
A winsome young man.
A charming young man.
A waesome ongaun.
A sad going occurance.
The suffix <rif(e)> signifies 'full of the quality of'.
The bairn's awfu waukrif.
The baby is awfully wakeful.
It's a gey an cauldrif day the day.
It's an extremely cold day today.
Adjectives may be formed by suffixing <like> can be attached to adjectives to qualify the meaning.
The nicht wis black-like.
The night was blackish.
Siclike fowk gars me grue.
Such people make me shudder.
She gied a wicelike ootcome, sae weel pitten on.
She presented a good appearance, being so well dressed.
The auld plane-tree wis vainisht-like.
The old sycamore tree had a shrunken appearance.
Both kynd or kin can also be used after adjectives to qualify the meaning.
Wi aw the wark, it wis gaun tae be a lang kynd o a day.
With all the work, it was going to be a longish day.
Thare wis nae muin tae be seen; it wis a black kin o a nicht.
There was no moon th be seen; it was a blackish night.
The prefix <cam> signifies 'awry'.
The camsheuch auld gowk wadna lat me see his dochter.
The ill-natured old fool wouldn't let me see his daughter.
The raip wis sae camshauchelt A coudna unraivel't.
The rope was so tangled that I couldn't untangle it.
A cammelt crummock.
A crooked walking-stick.
Thae's gey an camsteirie nowt.
Those are extremely unruly cattle.
Siccan (sic kin). With the indefinite article added siccan becomes sicna.
Sicna day as A hae haed, siccan cauld as it is.
Such a kind of day as I have had, so cold as it is.
Singular and Plural
Adjectives don't usually change their form in the plural, the following exceptions exist:
In Mid Northern and North Northern Scots this and that are used as plurals rather than thir and thae.
Definite demonstrative adjectives refer to a particular person or object.
This and thir refer to objects near the person speaking.
That and thae refer to objects near the person spoken to.
Yon (thon) refers to objects farther off in place or time.
Northern Scots uses this and that as the plural rather than thir and thae.
A dinna like thae tatties.
I don't like those potatoes.
Whase bairns is thir?
Whose are these children?
Dae ye see yon tree?
Do you see that tree over there?
A aft mynd o yon time.
I often think of that time (long ago).
He's a richt timmer-heid thon.
That man is a absolute blockhead.
A haena seen him this lang time.
I haven't seen him for a long time.
She haedna seen him this mony a year.
She hadn't seen him for many years.
Indefinite demonstrative adjectives do not refer to any particular person or object.
Are thare ony parritch left?
Is any porridge left?
He didna hae ony ither anes.
He didn't have any others.
She coft anither poke aiples.
She bought another bag of apples.
A wad liefer hae the ither.
I would rather have the other
The chields speirt whit ither haed.
The fellows inquired what each other had.
He’s been amang the nieces an ithers o Kirsten’s kin.
He’s been among the nieces and Christina’s other relations.
In single syllable words comparisons are formed by suffixing er (comparative) and est (superlative).
The comparative expresses more or greater degree The superlative expresses the greatest or highest degree.
An alternative to near is naur, nauerer or naur(d)er and naur(d)est.
If the adjective ends with ee the comparative and superlative are formed by adding -er and -est respectively e.g. wee (small), wee-er, wee-est.
Note the comparative of like - liker meaning more like.
In words of two or more syllables the comparative is formed by prefixing mair, and the superlative is formed by suffixing maist.
The tree's mair muckle nor the hoose.
The tree is larger than the house.
The hoose is the muckle maist biggin in the toun.
The house is the largest building in town.
Sometimes double comparatives are used.
He's mair aulder nor me.
He's older than me.
It's mair sweeter nor hinnie.
It's sweeter than honey.
The maist bonniest lassie.
The prettiest girl.
Mony, mair and maist are used with countable nouns.
Muckle, mair and maist are used with uncountable nouns.
The nouns of number, quantity and distribution are often used as adjectives, others are:
Yon's an orra chield.
That is an odd fellow.
It's no aft that the sun's oot for sae lang.
It is infrequent that the sun shines for so long.
Thare's no mony fowk come.
There are only a few people who have come.
Aye nou an than thare's an antrin blast o wind.
Every now and then there is an occasional blast of wind.
Several nouns, adverbs and prepositions of place are used as adjectives.
*ben is only used to refer to the inner room of a dwelling.
**In colloquial speech in is often shortened to i' in unstressed positions before consonants and is sometimes written as such.
Interrogatives ask questions.
The older whilk corresponding
to Standard English 'which' is now obsolete in speech
but may occur in literature. Whilk may be replaced
Whilk cou's that?
Whit cou's that?
Which cow is that?
Whilk haund will ye tak?
Whit haund will ye tak?
Which hand will you take?
Whitten (whit kin o) is used both singularly and in the plural and can mean, depending on situation or context, 'what kind of?' or 'what sort of?'
With the indefinite article added whitten becomes whitna.
Whit kintra dae ye come frae?
Which (part of the) country do you come from?
Whit year wis thay mairit in?
In which year were they married?
Whitten baccie's that?
What kind of tabacco is that?
Whitten fowk dis siclike?
What kind of people do such like?
Whitna body's yon?
What kind of a person is he (or she)?
Whitna cou's it ye hae?
What kind of a cow is it that you have?
<Wan> is a negative prefix roughly corresponding to 'un'.
That wis ae wanchancie mishanter.
That was a singularly unfortunate accident.
Thon bour-tree is awfu wanshapen.
Yonder elder tree is awfully deformed.
The tint gear wis wanawnt.
The lost belongings were unclaimed.
Yer dochter's a wansonsie wee lassie.
Your daughter is a mischievous little girl.
Negative adjectives nae and nane.
The negative adjective nae is used before nouns.
A hae nae siller in ma pootch.
I have no money in my pocket.
It's nae guid greetin.
It's no good crying.
Nae dout ye’ll weir yer flannen wrapper.
No doubt you’ll wear your flannel smock.
Nane o the twa.
None of the two.
Nane o thaim.
None of them.
Thare'll nane o the twa o ye'll gang.
Neither of you shall go.
Negative attributes can be expressed by adding less to the noun or verb.
The careless wee laddie.
The careless little boy.
The fushionless sodger.
The faint-hearted soldier.
A hairmless wee lamm.
A harmless little lamb.
A thochtless thing tae dae.
A thoughtless thing to do.