(It's not actually homework, I am actually studying for a competitive exam.)

The following sentences have been taken from Wren and Martin and I am providing their solutions for figuring out adjectives:

He gave the boys much wholesome advice

Now Wren and Martin says much is a different adjective and wholesome different, shouldn't it be just wholesome in superlative degree? and can two adjectives come one after another? shouldn't one become an adverb because now it's modifying an adjective?

Lead is heavier than any other metal

Now again Wren and Martin says any and other are two different adjectives, shouldn't other be the adjective and any adverb?

  • since any is modifying "other" which is an adjective shouldn't it be an adverb;same case with much ??? – Kartik Anand Mar 11 '12 at 16:58
  • How about a triple-glazed window: She is a highly qualified professional engineer. – Blessed Geek Mar 11 '12 at 18:46

No. Advice that was "wholesome in superlative degree" would be "very wholesome advice"; "much wholesome advice" means "a great quantity of wholesome advice". The word "much" modifies the noun "advice" (or maybe the noun phrase "wholesome advice"). Similarly, the word "any" modifies the noun phrase "other metal".

Both "any" and "much" are adjectives of quantity. They modify nouns; both can modify comparative adjectives (as in "much heavier", "any heavier"), and "much" can modify verb participles when they're acting as adjectives (as in a "much used frying pan") but they do not modify regular adjectives.


Neither any nor much are adjectives. Neither is other, either.

They are Quantifiers, a type of Determiner, the same part of speech as (for instance) the, this, twenty-three, and most of the rest of. Determiners have very complex syntax in English -- an unbelievable number of the questions here are about them -- but they didn't feature much in Latin, so the Roman grammarians didn't notice them at all.

In fact, the Roman grammarians didn't even notice Adjectives, which weren't in the original Eight Parts of Speech; since Latin adjectives inflect and behave just like nouns, they were simply treated as nouns, and the extra POS slot was filled by "Participle" (a category which also accounts for a lot of ELU.SE posts).

Anyway, neither quantifiers or determiners made it into The Big Eight Parts of Speech, as touted by Big-Time Grammar Books, until quite recently. The sentence quoted in the question has no adverbs, but wholesome is certainly an adjective, modifying advice.

For a competitive exam in English grammar, what matters is not English grammar, but what the teacher or official who wrote the exam thinks counts as "English grammar". Since there are some people who will believe anything about English grammar, it follows that what we think or reply here is irrelevant.

For instance, if the question is posed by someone who believes that much "is an adverb, because it modifies an adjective", then the question is closed, for that exam. That doesn't make it a correct answer, but it makes it the right answer on that test.


  • so you mean to say i am doomed :P – Kartik Anand May 11 '12 at 15:44
  • Only if you pay attention to the nonsense in Wren and Martin. Stop thinking about "Parts of Speech"; they don't matter in English. Pay attention to Constructions; they do. – John Lawler May 11 '12 at 15:47
  • Actually i am studying for a MBA entrance in India...its kind of like SAT and we get sentence correction questions..wren and martin,here is considered the most basic grammar book..that's why i was referring it..dont know what to refer if not wren and martin... – Kartik Anand May 11 '12 at 15:50
  • McCawley is very good; Huddleston and Pullum is great, but at 1600 pages not very portable. McCawley is half the size, but still a big book. English is quite complex. – John Lawler May 11 '12 at 16:16
  • 1
    yes i know..thats why i took up wren and martin 1st..i just need to crack this exam but after reading wren and martin i got interested and slowly things became complex – Kartik Anand May 11 '12 at 16:39

In both sentences the use of two adjectives together is perfectly grammatical. There is no rule that two adjectives can't be used one following the other. In another example you would have:

I bought a yellow second-hand shirt.

Both yellow and second-hand are two different adjectives and placed one after the other, both qualifying the noun shirt.

EDIT: To refer to your sentences more specifically, you can have much advice and wholesome advice separately, but you can also have much wholesome advice together. In this way you have more information about the word advice in one sentence, since both adjectives qualify the noun.

The case is similar with your second example.

  • in your example they are not modifying each other but isnt "much" modifying "wholesome", i am not getting it and also can you explain "any other" – Kartik Anand Mar 11 '12 at 17:00
  • @KartikAnand: Please see the edit in my answer. – Irene Mar 11 '12 at 17:05
  • thanx got it now :) – Kartik Anand Mar 11 '12 at 17:10

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