Limiting Adjectives

Limiting adjectives help to define, or "limit," a noun or pronoun. They tell "which one," "what kind," "how many," or "whose." There are six categories of limiting adjectives. They include articles, demonstrative adjectives, numbers, possessive adjectives (both pronouns and nouns), and indefinite adjectives.


Articles are the most commonly used adjectives, and they are also the shortest—a, an, and the.

a tree
a pen
an apple
an explorer
a flower
an octopus
an example
a cannon
a statute
an alley
an antidote
a law
a statute
an appropriation
an amendment

the tree
the pen
the apple
the explorer
the flower
the octopus
the example
the hypocrisy
the heresy
the macrocosm
the ectomorph
the branch
the jurisdiction
the recrimination
the caucus

We use a before words beginning with a consonant sound, and an before words beginning with a vowel sound. It is the sound and not the spelling that determines whether we use a or an:

an hour
an umbrella
an R-rating
an x-ray
an honor
an urchin
an urbanization

a human being
a university
a rat
a xylophone
a hunt
a unicycle
a uniform

Demonstrative Adjectives

Demonstrative adjectives tell WHICH ONE?

this town
these sticks
this lesson
these shoes
this noise
these maniacs
this hospice
these lobbyists

that city
those stones
that haircut
those socks
that song
those allies
that levity
those pacifists


Numbers can function as limiting adjectives telling HOW MANY.

three lemons
one pig
sixteen years
three potatoes
one onion
fifteen years
three megaphones
one microscope
nine justices
ten amendments

four marbles
twenty-six miles
fifty states
four carrots
seventy-six trombones
thirty miles
four telephones
two Senators
seven articles

Possessive Adjectives

Both pronouns and nouns commonly function as limiting adjectives. They answer the question, WHOSE.


Possessive pronouns can function as adjectives telling WHOSE.

her pen
my name
their socks
his hat
their sweaters
its place
my idea
her telescope
our bibliomania
your monopoly
his opinion
their argument
its longevity
my patriotism

its place
our country
your idea
her gloves
our class
your reward
his television
their orthotics
its perimeter
my advice
her suggestion
our democracy
your allegiance


Possessive nouns function as adjectives telling WHOSE.

Bob's bicycle
Lily's cat
Rosa's dream
Amanda's horse
Dad's chair
Allison's husband
Pandora's box
Adam's apple
Joseph's coat
Hamilton's beliefs
Washington's leadership
Langdon's signature

Omar's hat
Meg's book
Pat's shoe
Julio's cat
Monty's wife
Sergio's mom
Jacob's ladder
Ralph's medicine
Dad's opinion
Franklin's wisdom
Morris's articulation
Sherman's prestige

Indefinite Adjectives

Indefinite adjectives tell HOW MANY.

some wagons
many ships
no food
some people
many ballots
no errors
some ingredients
many soldiers
no participants
some dissenters
many representatives
no traitors

few members
several hikers
any syrup
few voters
several mice
any pests
few supporters
several campaigns
any leftovers
few militants
several consuls
any solution


Write each limiting adjective that you find in these sentences.

  1. I admire their efforts to help the poor.
  2. That restaurant gives its food to feed the homeless.
  3. I have one flavor of ice cream.
  4. Ted wants his ice cream in a cone.
  5. Have you washed your car?
  6. That cat ate the rest of my tuna.
  7. He has worked as a nurse for three or four months.
  8. Our assignment is to memorize these prepositions.
  9. Dr. Livingstone's dream of finding the source of the Nile never materialized.
  10. Few people pursue their dream for as many years as Dr. Livingstone did.
  11. Those mountains are the Adirondacks.
  12. One peak in this range is Mount Marcy.
  13. Many people visit these mountains.
  14. Our family enjoys the Appalachians.
  15. Dexter's son lives in the Adirondacks, part of the Appalachians.
  16. Those hikers carried few supplies.
  17. Does your state legislature govern its constituents wisely?
  18. A candidate will need many supporters to win this election.
  19. One senator voted for the bill.
  20. Those senators opposed the bill.


  1. their, the
  2. That, its, the
  3. Many, one
  4. Molly's, his, a
  5. your
  6. That, the, my
  7. a, three, four
  8. Our, these
  9. Dr. Livingstone's, the, the
  10. Few, their, many
  11. Those, the
  12. One, this
  13. Many, these
  14. Our, the
  15. Dexter's, the, the
  16. Those, few
  17. your, its
  18. A, many, this
  19. One, the
  20. Those, the