Order of Adjectives in English | Grammar Rules and Examples

When you use more than one adjective, you have to put them in the right order.

In English, it is common to use more than one adjective before a noun. For example, “He’s a silly young fool.” or “She’s a smart, energetic woman.” 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:

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 in One Table

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 “One (quantity) nice (opinion) little (size) round (shape) old (age) white (color) brick (material) house.”

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.

Adjective Order | Examples

Adjective Order | Video

1 responses on "Order of Adjectives in English | Grammar Rules and Examples"

  1. Excellent

Leave a Message

Your email address will not be published.