Grammar Lesson C [B1+]



Words that describe things (nouns) are called adjectives.

  • The wound has red, swollen and painful edges


  • The edges of the wound are red, swollen and painful.  (“red’, ‘swollen’ and ‘painful’ describe ‘wound’)

We regularly use adjectives to describe illness:

Common endings for medical adjectives are –able, -al, -ous, and –ic

Adjectives that compare

Adjectives have a root, a comparative form (= more or less than…) and a superlative form (the most or the least).

Examples of comparisons:

  • The wound is redder today (than yesterday).
  • Her face is paler and cooler (than two hours ago). I think the antibiotics have started to work.
  • The fluid I removed from your knee joint was more watery than in healthy joints. This is common in severe osteoarthritis. I think joint replacement would be the best choice for you.

Other common adjectives and comparisons in healthcare:

Comparatives using ‘more’ and ‘the most’, ‘less’ and ‘the least’:



Words that describe how we do things, that is actions (verbs), are called adverbs.

Adverbs are usually formed with adjective+ –ly.   


I can only stand up slowly…like this. (‘slowly’  describes ‘stand up’)

  • I can hear my joints scrape loudly sometimes. (‘loudly’ describes ‘scrape’)
  • “Have you been doing your physio consistently?”  (‘consistently’ describes ‘doing’)


Some adjectives have irregular adverbs. Some adjectives have no adverb form. These you must simply learn.


  • I slept well last night – finally!         (‘well’ describes ‘slept’)
  • I can’t move fast in the morning. My joints are too stiff.     (‘fast’ describes ‘move’)
  • “If you need to re-fill your prescription, just call the office. The doctor can easily send one straight to your pharmacy.”      (‘easily’ describes ‘send’)

Common adverbs in healthcare:

For common language patients use to describe how they feel, see Module 3 TUTORIAL I and APPENDIX 3.2 


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