In English, it is common to use more than one adjective before a noun. For example, “It is a beautiful long new dress.” or “She has bought a square white Japanese cake.” When you use more than one adjective, you have to put them in the right order – order of adjectives.
Order of Adjectives | Rules & Examples
In general, the adjective order in English is:
Words that work as articles and other limiters including numbers.
Example: a, an, the, both, either, some, many, my, your, our, their, his, her, five, each, every, this, that…
In general, an opinion adjective explains what you think about something (other people may not agree with you).
Example: good, bad, great, terrible, pretty, lovely, silly, beautiful, horrible, difficult, comfortable/uncomfortable, ugly, awful, strange, delicious, disgusting, tasty, nasty, important, excellent, wonderful, brilliant, funny, interesting, boring.
Size and Shape
Adjectives that describe a factual or objective quality of the noun.
- A size adjective, of course, tells you how big or small something is.
Example: huge, big, large, tiny, enormous, little, tall, long, gigantic, small, short, minuscule.
- A shape adjective describes the shape of something.
Example: triangular, square, round, flat, rectangular.
An age adjective (adjective denoting age) tells you how young or old something or someone is.
Example: young, old, new, ancient, six-year-old, antique, youthful, mature, modern, old-fashioned, recent…
A color adjective (adjective denoting color), of course, describes the color of something.
Example: red, black, pale, bright, faded, shining, yellow, orange, green, blue, purple, pink, aquamarine…
Denominal adjectives denoting source of noun.
An origin adjective describes where something comes from.
Example: French, American, Canadian, Mexican, Greek, Swiss, Spanish, Victorian, Martian…
Denominal adjectives denoting what something is made of.
Example: woollen, wooden, silk, metal, paper, gold, silver, copper, cotton, leather, polyester, nylon, stone, diamond, plastic…
Final limiter, often regarded as part of the noun.
A purpose adjective describes what something is used for. These adjectives often end with “-ing”.
Example: writing (as in “writing paper”), sleeping (as in “sleeping bag”), roasting (as in “roasting tin”), running (as in “running shoes”).
Order of Adjectives | Images
To summarize, in English, adjectives pertaining to size precede adjectives pertaining to age (“little old“, not “old little“), which in turn generally precede adjectives pertaining to color (“old white“, not “white old“). So, we would say “A (determiner) beautiful (opinion) old (age) Indian (origin) lamp.”
English has some adjectives that follow the noun as postmodifiers, called postpositive adjectives, such as time immemorial and attorney general. Adjectives may even change meaning depending on whether they precede or follow, as in proper: They live in a proper town. (a real town, not a village) vs. They live in the town proper. (in the town itself, not in the suburbs). All adjectives can follow nouns in certain constructions, such as tell me something new.