By Michael Kofi Ngongi

Every year, the Hollywood glitterati descend on downtown Los Angeles for a grand celebration, an annual jamboree known to us all as the Oscars. In an industry defined by its glitz and glamour, Oscar night is the apogee of the film awards season. It is the flashiest, most lavish event on the social calendar. With their swanky dresses, elegant tuxedoes and million-dollar smiles, award nominees walk the red carpet hoping to end the night clutching one of the iconic golden statuettes. And the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor goes to…adjectives!

That is what adjectives are: supporters. They can never be lead actors; that role belongs to nouns. Nouns are the protagonists of our stories; without them we simply would have nothing to talk about. Nouns are the superheroes and adjectives are their sidekicks. Like Robin does with Batman, adjectives tag along and assist the heroes in their quest for truth, justice and better stories.

Yet, though theirs is a supporting role, adjectives’ contributions are significant and essential. Adjectives modify nouns and pronouns. They allow us to add compelling details and nuance to our discourse. They supply colour, character, definition and even distinction to nouns. Without adjectives, we would lose the ability to describe people and things in any kind of detail. Everyone and everything in our world would be indistinct and indistinguishable, neither describable nor comparable. No one and nothing would be bigger or smaller, greater or lesser, richer or poorer. There would be no rough places to be made plain, no crooked places to be made straight. Skies and seas and mountains would all be alike, none clear, none deep, none high.

No, adjectives cannot be our stories’ leading actors. Yet, they are no less important and deserve your special consideration. If you ignore them, you’ll soon discover the truth of the adage: you never miss your water ‘til the well runs dry.

Michael Kofi Ngongi is a new Canadian originally from Cameroon, another bilingual country. He has experience in international development and is a freelance writer interested in language, its usage and how it can unite or divide people.

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