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How to Use “Frail” in a Sentence

How to Use “Frail” in a Sentence

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Adjectives are words that describe things, and mastering them can really level up your writing skills.

However, it’s important to know when and how to use adjectives. Don’t believe me? Consider the choice between freer vs more free.

Today we’ll take a look at one adjective in particular: the word “frail.”


How do you use “frail” in a sentence?

The word “frail” is an adjective. To use it in a sentence, either place it before the noun it modifies or use a being verb (is, are, was, or were) to place it after the noun. If you’re including other adjectives, “frail” should go in the proper order and may need to be followed by a comma.


The meaning of frail

Before you can use a word in a sentence, it’s important to understand what it means.

The word “frail” is an adjective, or descriptive word, which means that something or someone is both delicate and weak.

In most, if not all, cases, “frail” is used to describe people or other living things.

If you are trying to describe an inanimate object that breaks easily, try the word “fragile” instead.

Fortunately, no matter which adjective you use, the rules are the same!

There are actually two ways to use adjectives like “frail” in English.

We’ll go over both in more detail below, but the short version is that you can either put the adjective in front of the noun it describes, or you can use a being verb (is, are, was, or were) to connect the adjective after the noun.


Adding “frail” in front of a noun

The simplest way to use “frail in a sentence” is to simply place it in front of the noun you wish to modify.

That’s all you need to do.

Note that if you want to use multiple adjectives, you may need to use a comma to separate them. Also, adjectives have a specific order in English.

We’ll talk more about these later, though. For now, just focus on putting “frail” in front of the noun you want to use.

Example Sentences using “frail”

“The frail old woman surprised everybody when she pushed the attacker to the ground.”

In this sentence, the word “frail” is used to describe an old woman.

The word “frail” goes immediately before the noun, but needs to come before the word “old,” as we’ll explain later.

“Frail children rarely play sports.”

Here, the word “frail” describes children. Notice that the adjective does not change for plural words and neither does its placement.


Describing something as being “frail”

The second way to use “frail” in a sentence is to place it after the noun it describes.

In this case, you need to use a type of linking verb known as a copula or, more commonly, a “being verb.” (See our article on linking verbs for a fuller description of how to use these words.)

Linking verbs are a special type of verb that are used to support other parts of a sentence.

In the case of being verbs, they show that something exists or has a specific quality.

To use “frail” with a “being verb,” you need to write the noun you want to describe, add the grammatically correct being verb, and then the word “frail.”

How do you know which being verb is grammatically correct?

Consult this handy chart!

In addition to being verbs, you can use other linking verbs, like “look” or “seem,” to describe people or animals that you think are frail.

Example Sentences using “frail”

“The patient was frail even before his operation.”

This sentence uses the being verb “was” to connect “frail” to “patient,” the word it describes.

“She looks so frail I’m surprised.”

Here, the linking verb “look” is used instead of a being verb. The meaning is more or less the same.


Using multiple adjectives – Rules

One fact about English that often takes native speakers by surprise is that multiple adjectives follow a specific order.

Don’t believe me? Try it out on that black small cat over there, the one that’s licking up some vanilla, delicious ice cream.

As this explainer from Excelsior University puts it, the correct order of adjectives in English is:

  1. Observation
  2. Physical description (size, shape, age, color)
  3. Origin
  4. Material
  5. Qualifier

Frail is a physical quality, so it comes second in the order of adjectives, after descriptions based on observation.

The other rule about combining adjectives is that a pair of adjectives needs a comma to separate them when each adjective comes from a different category.

Example sentences

“The frail black cat drank the milk.”

Here, “frail” is paired with “black” to more fully describe the cat. Both “frail” and “black” are physical descriptions, so they don’t need a comma in between them.

“I petted the gorgeous, frail cats.”

In this case, “gorgeous” is based on observation, so a comma is needed to separate the two adjectives.


“The frail old man appeared ambivalent about accepting assistance, torn between his desire for independence and the need for support in his daily tasks.”