Order of Adjectives in English: Useful Rules and Examples

Order of Adjectives! When you are going to use a number of different adjectives to describe a noun it is important to be able to put the adjectives in the correct order. The reason for this is that when placed in the wrong order, numerous adjectives can sound misplaced, uneven and somewhat cacophonous.

In this section, we will be looking at the best way to order your adjectives which will not only allow your sentences to flow much more easily but will also give you the impression of being a native English speaker.

Order of Adjectives | Rules & Examples

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.

Learn how to put adjectives in the right order with useful grammar rules and examples.

In general, the adjective order in English is:

Determiner

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…

Observation

(Opinion)

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.

Age

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…

Color

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…

Origin

Denominal adjectives denoting source of noun.

An origin adjective describes where something comes from.

Example: French, American, Canadian, Mexican, Greek, Swiss, Spanish, Victorian, Martian…

Material

Denominal adjectives denoting what something is made of.

Example: woollen, wooden, silk, metal, paper, gold, silver, copper, cotton, leather, polyester, nylon, stone, diamond, plastic…

Qualifier

(Purpose)

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

Order of Adjectives

Order of Adjectives in English | Grammar Rules and Examples

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.

Adjective Order | Examples

Adjective Order Video

Adjectives in English Grammar

List of useful lessons about adjectives in English.

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Arfeen Addahia
Arfeen Addahia
2 years ago

Excellent

Jac
Jac
1 year ago

Good stuff for English learners

Jesuel
Jesuel
10 months ago

I like your web site, because as we can see, It’s very interesting for English learners around the world.
Thanks a lot!

Art
Art
10 months ago

“This round new kitchen table” sounds really awkward to me and I would never say something like that. The supposed rule of putting shape before age seems wrong to me….
For example, if I said to you, “Try one of these new, heart-shaped candies.” That sounds much more natural than saying, “Try one of these heart-shaped new candies.” in my opinion

Al
Al
9 months ago
Reply to  Art

I think also “age” can have different implications depending on position.

“The ugly new chair.” States that the chair is new and I think it’s ugly.

“The new ugly chair.” States that there are 2 ugly chairs and I’m referring to the new one.

Chelmsford Bird
Chelmsford Bird
4 months ago

Wow good learning

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