Marked and unmarked Adjectives of measurement

Adjectives are one of the fundamental pieces of grammar in the English language, and surely you must be thinking that you have mastered them by now. However, adjectives can come in many different forms. In this blog post, we will be discussing some adjectives of measurement, specifically marked and unmarked forms.

Adjectives of measurement? Tall and short, right? YES, this is an example of adjectives of measurement. Here are some others:

– Old/Young
– Heavy/Light
– Fast/Slow

The word that is used for the bigger end of the spectrum can also be used to talk about the quality of something in general. We call these unmarked.


She is very tall while he is very short – this is marked (as we know what the adjectives are describing.)
How tall are you – this is unmarked (in general – we would not say ‘how short are you’)
Lead is one of the heaviest metals (marked)
Scales measure how heavy something is (they don’t measure how light something is).
The worst thing about The Batman was its length (marked)
What is the length of that table (unmarked- not ‘what is the shortness’)?

Now that you have seen some examples of marked and unmarked adjectives of measurement, let’s test your knowledge with a quiz.

Marked and unmarked adjectives

Can you rewrite these sentences using unmarked adjectives?

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