Answers: writing about adjectives (Text 1)


The adjectives are printed in red, and then listed according to their position, form and connotations underneath.


Today, I am going to level with people about the difficult economic circumstances we still face and the hard decisions required to deal with them. It is taking longer than anyone hoped, but we must hold on to the right track. By setting free the aspirations of this nation, we will get there. Our economic plan combines monetary activism with fiscal responsibility and supply-side reform.  [omitted text]

Since the autumn statement, the Office for Budget Responsibility has again revised its forecast for global economic growth, and has sharply revised down its forecast for world trade. Growth in the United States and Japan was flat in the last quarter, while the eurozone shrank by 0.6%. That was the largest fall since the height of the financial crisis. The problems in Cyprus this week are further evidence that the crisis is not over and the situation remains very worrying.

George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer

Budget Speech, The House of Common, Hansard 20 March 2013

ATTRIBUTIVE: difficult, economic (x3), hard, right, monetary, fiscal, global, last, largest, financial, further

PREDICATIVE: flat, very worrying

GRADED: very worrying




NEGATIVE CONNOTATIONS: difficult, hard, flat (in this context), largest (in this context), very worrying

NEUTRAL CONNOTATIONS: economic (x3), monetary, fiscal, global, last, financial, further


longer and free may look like adjectives, but they are adverbs giving us more information about the verbs taking and setting 


supply-side, autumn, Budget, world are nouns doing the descriptive job of an adjective


This text is an example of a public speech in a very subject-specific field. The initial audience is narrow: the speech is primarily written for and delivered to politicians. The wider audience includes economic experts in the fields of journalism and finance, but also the general public who will hear about the budget on radio and television news, and will read about it in newspapers or on-line.  The purpose is to inform politicians (and others) about the financial decisions made by the government for the remainder of 2013, and to report on forecasts for economic growth and public borrowing. The context is also initially narrow – the House of Commons in Parliament.

Five key points about the adjectives:

  1. many of the adjectives have neutral connotations: the subject is technical, based on abstract concepts, facts and figures (the nouns linked to the adjectives are abstract)
  2. the adjectives with negative connotations reflect the difficult financial situation in Britain and Europe
  3. the one adjective with positive connotations (right) is persuasive, designed to encourage support for a budget which will make difficult choices – it aims to give the government the moral high ground
  4. the only predicative adjectives  allow Osborne to create a dramatic effect because they are in an emphatic position after the verb:
    • the lack of improvement in the US and Japanese economies (flat)
    • the expression of an opinion (very worrying) – the effect here is strengthened because the adjective is graded, a degree adverb intensifies the meaning 
  5. most adjectives are in the base form because this is an informative text – the superlative adjective (largest), however, is used dramatically to gain support for the government’s position

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