adjectives & context

Hela

Senior Member
Tunisia - French
Dear teachers,

- Would you please give me some adjectives that can fit in the following contexts and so have 2 different meanings ?

e.g. a) Julia was a handsome, courageous, AND cunning woman.
= positive meaning

b) Julia was a handsome, courageous, BUT cunning woman.
= negative meaning

- Could the following adjectives fit here? Could they replace the word CUNNING in this particular context?

1. reserved 2. coy 3. vulnerable 4. matter of fact 5. outstanding
6. raging 7. laborious

Thank you for your help.
Hela
 
  • Le Pamplemousse

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    First of all, in English, 'handsome' is rarely used to describe a woman. 'Beautiful' is much more common.

    1. reserved - works in both
    2. coy - works in both
    3. vulnerable - works in both
    4. matter of fact - not really an adjective describing a person
    5. outstanding - doesn't really work in b), because outstanding never has a negative connotation
    6. raging - doesn't really work in a), because raging never has a positive meaning
    7. laborious - works in both


    Hope this helps.
    Please reply if you need more explanation.
     

    Hela

    Senior Member
    Tunisia - French
    Thank you, Le Pamplemousse. Would you have some more adjectives for me, please?

    Regards,
    Hela
     

    E-J

    Senior Member
    England, English
    I believe that in 19th-century literature, the adjective "handsome" is more often found in descriptions of women than of men, but Le Pamplemousse is right that nowadays, it's is better suited to describing a man.

    I would add that the word "and" here doesn't necessarily give the adjective that follows a positive connotation - simply the absence of a negative one. It avoids judgement. The word "but" implies a contrast with the preceding adjectives, and therefore a judgement about them.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I would like to add that the important characteristic of the adjective following the but is not that it should be negative, but that it should contrast with the adjectives before the but.

    As it happens, in this example the adjectives before the but are positive, so only negative adjectives fit after - hence outstanding is not appropriate in (b). Struggling to think of an example... think... . AH

    Julia was underprivileged, untrained, but outstanding.

    Pathetic example, but perhaps you see the point.

    Incidentally, what is a laborious woman?
    ... maybe it's best if that question is left unanswered:eek:
     

    GenJen54

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    E-J said:
    I believe that in 19th-century literature, the adjective "handsome" is more often found in descriptions of women than of men, but Le Pamplemousse is right that nowadays, it's is better suited to describing a man.

    I agree that handsome was more widely used in centuries past, but I don't believe its use is completely extinct. To me, there is a striking difference between a woman who is "handsome" and one that is "beautiful."

    A handsome woman is one who has a certain air of elegance about her. She carries herself with a sense of intelligence and grace that defies simple beauty. It is a quality that comes from within. It almost aspires to haughtiness, but falls just short.

    The words closest to handsome in modern vernacular (to describe a woman) would be stunning or striking.

    Only twice have I ever used "handsome" to describe a woman, but in those two cases, it was the only word that seemed to fit.
     

    Hela

    Senior Member
    Tunisia - French
    Thank you all for your answers. :)
    Now to sum up, which of the above adjectives would fit in my sentence?
    - coy?
    - reserved?
    - vulnerable?
    - matter of fact?

    See you,
    Hela
     
    Top