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Concourse 2

Making Verbs from Adjectives

This lesson is about how English makes verbs from adjectives, like this:


They are widening the road

It all seems quite simple but English is a little irregular in this area so you need to be careful.

We will take this topic by topic with short tests to see what you can remember.



One example is above (red - redden) and here are some more:

adjective verb notice
He went red He reddened We add -en and double the 'd' when we make the verb
The paper went yellow with age The paper yellowed with age These verbs cannot have an object (they are intransitive)
The toast went brown The toast browned
The snow made the fields white The snow whitened the fields We add -en to make the verbs
The pollution made the buildings black The pollution blackened the buildings
His face went grey His face greyed This verb can take an object in the passive usually
In American English the spelling is gray
The menu item was in grey The menu item was greyed out
The children put colour in the pictures The children coloured in the pictures This verb is usually colour + in

That's the full list in English!  We do not make verbs from other colours so we cannot have, pinked, greened, blued etc.
Got it?  Try the test.



Again, we had one example at the beginning (wide - widen).  Here are some more:

adjective verb notice
He made the hole deep He deepened the hole We add -en to this adjective to make the verb
She read more widely She widened her reading We add -n to the adjective to make the verb
He made the doorway narrow He narrowed the doorway We make no change to the adjective to make the verb
They made the note high They heightened the note With these two verbs, we make the verb from the noun, not the adjective (height / length)
I made the rope long I lengthened the rope
I cut my holiday short I shortened my holiday We add -en to make the verb
They made the room large The enlarged the room Here, we add the -en to the beginning of the adjective
I made the light low over my desk I lowered the light over my desk Here, we make the verb from the comparative form (lower)
I made the picture broad I broadened the picture We add -en to make the verb
The pigs got fat The pigs fattened This verb can be used with and without an object
Note the double 't'
The farmer made the cows fat The farmer fattened the cows
The noise grew less The noise lessened We add -en to make the verbs
They got out to make the car light The got out to lighten the car

As you can see, this is quite an irregular area although a lot of the verbs are made by adding -en to the adjective.
Try to make your own examples and then try the test.



This is the last set of adjective-noun pairs.  These ones are easier because all of them except the first one follow the same pattern, adding -en to the adjective to make the verb.

adjective verb notice
I made the rope strong I strengthened the rope With this verb, we make the verb from the noun (strength), not the adjective (strong)
They made the room dark They darkened the room We add -en or -n to make all these verbs and sometimes we double the consonant
They made the colour light They lightened the colour
I made the picture bright I brightened the picture
The rain made the grass damp The rain dampened the grass
She made the paper flat She flattened the paper
I opened the window to make the room fresh I opened the window to freshen the room
The glue got hard very quickly The glue hardened very quickly
The red cloth made the bull mad The red cloth maddened the bull
I made the towel moist with a little water I moistened the towel with a little water
I made my steps quick I quickened my steps
She made the dress tight She tightened the dress
He made his tie loose He loosened his tie
He added water to make his drink weak He added water to weaken his drink
The surprise made the crowd quiet The surprise quietened the crowd
The fruit became ripe in the sunshine The fruit ripened in the sunshine
The story made me sad The story saddened me
The vinegar made the soup sharp The vinegar sharpened the soup
The soup made me sick The soup sickened me
Her heart became soft when he apologised Her heart softened when he apologised
The wet rope became stiff in the icy cold The wet rope stiffened in the icy cold
They worked to make the road straight They worked to straighten the road
She added sugar to make her tea sweet She added sugar to sweeten her tea
His time in the army made him tough His time in the army toughened him
The soup became thick The soup thickened
I put flour in the soup to make it thick I thickened the soup with flour
The walls stopped the sound The walls deadened the sound We can't use the adjective dead for sounds but we can use the verb!

Click here to download and save this lesson as a PDF document.

Try the final test on all of this lesson.