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Positive and Negative Adjective Descriptions & Lists

Can you think of the last time you told someone how you really felt at that moment? What kinds of words did you use to express your feelings?

Chances are, you used a positive or a negative adjective to describe your feelings about that specific person, place, thing, or idea. Whenever you share your feelings with someone, you use describing words, also known as adjectives or words that describe nouns. These words play an important role in the English language and help describe things and communicate how you think and feel.

Without noun describers, it’s difficult to express how you feel about the people, places, and things around you. What’s great about descriptive words is that you can use them to describe your own unique feelings, and there are so many different ones to choose from depending on the topic or situation.

Two types of adjectives that help us do this are positive adjectives and negative adjectives. Let’s dive in to see how these types of words can help you better express yourself both in conversation and in your writing.

Every describing word has meaning. Some evoke “good” feelings, while others evoke “bad” feelings. By using positive adjectives and negative adjectives, you express your thoughts and help someone understand how you feel. These words can also potentially affect those you’re speaking about and speaking with. That’s why it’s always important to choose your words carefully.

Let’s look at an example: 

  • He’s very competitive.

This sentence probably forms a good mental image in your mind. Being competitive means someone is focused, engaged, and self-determined. You can understand that the person has a desire to be successful, without endangering anyone.

Next, consider this sentence:

  •  He’s very combative

Combative shares a similar meaning to the word competitive, yet the “bad” traits outweigh the good. The mental image you get from this sentence is perhaps someone who wants to fight and argue. The person is not only competitive, but they are also hostile and aggressive. Competitive is a positive adjective that starts with C while combative is a negative adjective that starts with C.

As you can tell, describing words matter. That’s why it’s important to know different words that describe both the good and the bad things in life. To build your vocabulary, let’s learn more about positive adjectives and negative adjectives. But before we do that, why not learn about APA format and more styles of citing work?

Here’s more about the differences between positive and negative adjectives and how to use them.

What are Positive Adjectives?

Positive adjectives describe people, places, and things in a positive way. Using these noun modifiers, you can express emotions such as satisfaction, love, amusement, hope, and more.

Here are a few examples of sentences that use good emotional words:

  •     Steve is happy today.
  •     Her wise words fired up the crowd.
  •     Suzy’s always cooperative with her classmates.

In addition to letting you describe someone or something, you can also use noun modifiers to motivate others. When you speak to someone with positive describing words, you can help to increase their confidence and to build them up.

Here are some additional words you can use when describing someone or something:

  •     You’re a spectacular team captain.
  •     Look at your perfect math test grade.
  •     That outfit looks terrific on you. 

How do these sentences make you feel? Most people enjoy hearing words of encouragement. Without positive adjectives, you can only make generic statements that tell the facts and nothing more.

Take a look at these examples:

  •     You’re a team captain!
  •     Look at your math test grade.
  •     I haven’t seen that outfit before. 

As you can tell from these sentences, you can’t share your feelings without using describing words. But it’s important not to select just any word, but rather the right word. Because just one describing word can change the meaning of your whole sentence.

However, life isn’t always positive, and sometimes you need to express something negative. Perhaps you want to share feelings about people, places, or things because you’re unhappy with the way something is. In this case, you’ll probably use negative adjectives.

Here’s a quick tip: Next time you need input on your writing, try this grammar check from Citation Machine Plus. In addition, there are also citation tools to help cite your sources in MLA format and more!

What are Negative Adjectives?

Not all noun modifiers have a happy connotation. Some make listeners and readers think about sad, unpleasant, or unhappy situations or emotions. Fortunately, though, there are just as many positive describing words as there are negative.

Let’s look at our examples again and change the sentences’ meaning by adding negative adjectives:

  •     Steve is bossy today.
  •     Her cruel words fired up the crowd.
  •     Suzy’s always aggressive with her classmates.

Compared to the first example sentences, how do these make you feel? The kind words from before might have made you smile. Now, the images that likely appear in your head portray each situation in a more negative light.

As you can see, changing just one word in a sentence can alter the entire meaning of a sentence and make you feel a completely different way. If simply reading examples talking positively or negatively about hypothetical people can change the way you feel, just imagine how your amiable or unpleasant words can affect others in real life.

Here are more examples of how negative adjectives can be used to describe something in a harmful manner:

  •     You’re a narrow-minded team captain.
  •     Look at your lousy math test grade.
  •     That outfit looks horrific on you.

These examples don’t carry the same good emotions, do they? In addition to impacting how others feel, these types of words can also express how you think. Do you want to be someone who has good things to say, or someone who speaks poorly about things? Your vocabulary says a lot about who you are.

Are you an optimist who sees the best in people and situations? If so, you probably use more positive adjectives during day-to-day conversations. Or do you have more of a pessimistic view about things? If so, chances are you don’t use as many uplifting words to describe your world. Neither outlook is necessarily wrong, but either way, there are many reasons why you should increase your vocabulary of quality describing words.

Benefits of Using Positive Adjectives

One of the most important reasons to use more positive adjectives is to bring out the best in others. Want to boost someone’s spirits or help them out? Try using kind words of encouragement. In the same way, the words you use to describe a person, place, or thing can build them up with positive adjectives instead of breaking them down. Here are a few lists that will help you develop your vocabulary of positive adjectives to describe a person, place, thing, or situation in your life.

List of Positive Adjectives

Not sure where to begin? There are plenty of options for both positive and negative adjectives throughout the alphabet. We’ll go through some great options to get you started.

Positive adjectives that start with A

Here’s a list of some positive adjectives that start with the letter A you can use to describe a person, place, or thing:

  •     Able
  •     Abundant
  •     Above-board
  •     Accurate
  •     Achieving
  •     Adept
  •     Affordable
  •     Adaptable
  •     Amazing
  •     Ambitious
  •     Awesome

Positive adjectives that start with C

Here’s a list of some positive adjectives that start with the letter C you can use to describe a person, place, or thing:

  •     Careful
  •     Caring
  •     Calm
  •     Capable
  •     Certain
  •     Charming
  •     Cheerful
  •     Cheery
  •     Cherished
  •     Chic
  •     Civil
  •     Clean
  •     Clever
  •     Comfortable
  •     Cooperative
  •     Cordial
  •     Creative
  •     Cute

Positive adjectives that start with N

Here’s a list of some positive adjectives that start with the letter N you can use to describe a person, place, or thing:

  •     Natural
  •     Naturalistic
  •     Neat
  •     New
  •     Nifty
  •     Nice
  •     Notable
  •     Nourishing
  •     Novel
  •     Nurturing

Positive adjectives that start with T

Here’s a list of some positive adjectives that start with the letter T you can use to describe a person, place, or thing:

  •     Tactful
  •     Talented
  •     Taxing
  •     Teachable
  •     Thankful
  •     Thoughtful
  •     Thorough
  •     Thrifty
  •     Thrilled
  •     Thriving
  •     Timeless
  •     Tolerant
  •     Top-notch
  •     Touching

Here are some additional options you can add to your list of positive adjectives that start with T:

  •     Tantalizing
  •     Tasteful
  •     Terrific
  •     Tidy
  •     Toned
  •     Tranquil
  •     Tremendous
  •     Treasured
  •     Triumphant
  •     Trusted
  •     Trusting
  •     Trustworthy
  •     Truthful

Additional positive adjectives you can use

As you can see, there are many positive adjectives you can choose from to describe a person, place, or thing.

Here are some more options:

  •     Beloved
  •     Dapper
  •     Dazzling
  •     Excellent
  •     Expressive
  •     Faithful
  •     Flashy
  •     Forgiving
  •     Glamorous
  •     Healing
  •     Heroic
  •     Kind-hearted
  •     Legit
  •     Loving
  •     Luxurious
  •     Optimistic
  •     Peaceful
  •     Perfect
  •     Romantic
  •     Soothing
  •     Stunning
  •     Valuable
  •     Wonderful

Negative Adjectives You Can Use

On the contrary, here are some negative adjectives you can use to describe a person, place, thing, or situation:

  •     Aggressive
  •     Arrogant
  •     Boastful
  •     Bossy
  •     Boring
  •     Careless
  •     Clingy
  •     Cruel
  •     Cowardly
  •     Deceitful
  •     Dishonest
  •     Fussy
  •     Greedy
  •     Grumpy
  •     Harsh
  •     Impatient
  •     Impulsive
  •     Jealous
  •     Moody
  •     Narrow-minded
  •     Overcritical
  •     Rude
  •     Selfish
  •     Untrustworthy
  •     Unhappy

As you can see from these examples, there are many words you can use to describe a person, place, thing—both positive and negative. It’s not realistic to be positive all the time, but no matter what you say, always try your best to choose your words carefully.

Do you want more information on good and bad describing words? Take a look at this page and this further reading.


Published March 5, 2019. Updated May 22,2020.

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