Are Colors Nouns or Adjectives?

Are colors nouns that name specific objects, or are they adjectives that describe the quality of objects?

Colors are versatile, and they can serve as either nouns, adjectives, or verbs, depending on how they’re used in a sentence. To understand what part of speech colors are, we must explore their usage in different sentences.

Color Nouns

When we talk about colors in general, we usually think of them as nouns.

“Blue is my favorite color.”

In this example, blue is the subject of the sentence. The color is considered to be an object or idea that exists on its own. In other words, most of us can picture what blue looks like without any added descriptions. Blue is the thing.


  • I don’t like the orange next to the purple.
  • Red is too strong.
  • They vanished into the blue.

Color Adjectives

Colors are also descriptive and can be used as adjectives to modify nouns.

For example, in the phrase “the yellow ball,” the color “yellow” describes the noun “ball.” Knowing the ball’s color adds clarity and differentiates the yellow ball from other balls.

As adjectives, colors can both precede a noun or follow a linking verb to add more context to the subject of the sentence. 


  • My silver container fell on the floor.
  • The dog is white.
  • The bright orange flowers bloomed in the garden.

Color Verbs

While it’s less common, colors can also function as verbs in specific contexts. When used as verbs, colors describe the action of something changing to that color. For example, the sentence “The leaves yellow in the fall” uses “yellow” as a verb. Here, “yellow” describes the actual act of the leaves turning yellow as the season changes. You’ll typically see this usage in poetic or descriptive writing.


  • The fence gates rust in the rain.
  • The grapes purple under the summer sun.

Colors as Both Nouns and Adjectives in a Sentence

Because adjectives modify nouns, you can have colors acting as both nouns and adjectives in one sentence!

For example, saying, “Ruby red is your favorite color,” uses “ruby” as an adjective to describe the noun “red.”

Colorful Writing Explained

So, are colors nouns? Yes! But they are also adjectives and sometimes verbs. This just highlights how language adapts depending on the context.

Check out our 8 parts of speech guide to learn more about the fascinating ways language functions.


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