Order of adjectives – Part I

Hi everyone! Do you know the order of adjective in a sentence? When an adjective is used with a noun the usual order is that the adjective comes before a noun. But when there is more than one adjective in the same phase, it can be a little confusing. The fact is because there are various types of adjectives: opinion and descriptive adjectives.  Opinion adjectives usually go before descriptive adjectives. However, there are two types of opinion adjectives and many descriptive adjectives.

Adjective order

See below some examples of adjective order:

  •  General opinion: tells us what the speaker thinks about general characteristic of something or someone.

She is a beautiful girl.
Beautiful: adjective (general opinion)
Girl: noun (someone)

  • Specific opinion: tells us what the speaker thinks about a particular characteristic of something or someone.

She is a beautiful intelligent girl.
Beautiful: adjective (general opinion)
Intelligent: adjective (specific opinion)
Girl: noun (someone)

* General opinion usually comes before specific opinion.

Descriptive adjectives usually come in this order: size ⇨ shape ⇨ condition ⇨ age ⇨ colour ⇨ pattern ⇨ origin ⇨ material ⇨ purpose

You can find other types of descriptive adjectives. Some of them are in different order. For example: some books mentions that shape goes after age.

The order of basic types of adjectives and their respective adjectives below:

General opinion ⇨ specific opinion ⇨ size ⇨ shape ⇨ condition ⇨ age ⇨ colour ⇨ pattern ⇨ origin ⇨ material ⇨ purpose

Examples of adjectives:

  1. General opinion: nice, cool, cute, good, best, bad, lovely, amazing, beautiful, pretty, handsome, attractive, wonderful, excellent, awful, ugly, horrible, nasty, strange, important;
  2. Specific opinion: tasty, delicious, intelligent, smart, brilliant, clever, wise, mean, silly, friendly, comfortable, uncomfortable, dedicated, polite, confident, crazy, funny, sexy, famous, well-known;
  3. Size: big, large, huge, enormous, giant, small, short, tall, high, low, medium, deep, little, tiny, fat*;
  4. Shape: round, oval, circular, square, rectangular, triangular, boxy, irregular, heart-shaped, flat, thin, slim, skinny, heavy, overweight, fat*, curly, wavy, straight, long, short, narrow;
  5. Condition: rich, easy, difficult, dirty, clean, messy, hot, cold, warm, wet, dry, broken, rusty, bumpy, hungry, empty, full;
  6. Age: young, younger, youthful, adolescent, new, modern, current, middle-aged, old, mature, ancient, antique, vintage;
  7. Colour: white, red, green, grey, blue, yellow, orange, purple, pink, violet, black, dark, brown, blonde, blond, whitish, blueish, pinkish, brownish, reddish, tan, bright, colorful, navy blue;
  8. Pattern: striped, zigzag, spotted, plaid, polka dotted, chevron, checked, flowery;
  9. Origin: British, English, Scottish, American, Canadian, Brazilian, French, Italian, Dutch, European, Australian, Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Turkish, Egyptian, Greek, Korean, Asian, African, northern, southern, eastern, western, foreign, local, lunar, solar;
  10. Material: silk, cotton, denim, linen, wool, woollen, leather, synthetic, plastic, wood, wooden, bamboo, paper, cardboard, clay, ceramic, porcelin, metal, metallic, brass, gold, silver, iron;
  11. Purpose: gardening, flower, shopping, cleaning, hammering, cooking, sleeping, reading, writing, drawing, baking, cutting, knitting, wedding, swimming, hiking, walking, riding, running, roasting, racing, sports.

* Fat appears in two different groups: “size” and “shape”. The classification for such adjectives is subjective.

IMPORTANT: You don’t need to memorize the order of adjectives. Adjective order before a noun is not fixed. The rules are quite flexible. Besides this, It’s not usual to use more than two adjectives in the same sentence.

You usually place the adjective that is easier to change first than other adjective.

  • This is a wonderful Italian chair.

* It’s easy for you to change your opinion (wonderful) about the chair (noun), but it is not easy for you to change where it comes from (origin – Italian). Therefore, opinion adjective comes first than origin adjective.

You can also change the rules given for adjective order when you wish to emphasis certain word or phrase in a particular context.

  •  The blonde German man failed the exam.

* This is the correct order. However, the context can change this. For example, if you’re answering the question: “Which blonde man?” then you can answer: “The German blonde man”.

More examples of adjective order:

  • My brother put his nice clean white T-shirts into his wardrobe. (opinion/ condition/ colour)
  • Mary bought an elegant polka dotted linen dress to go to a party. (opinion/ pattern/ material)
  • Ana has big blue eyes. (size/ colour)
  • They are brilliant European scientists. (opinion/ origin)
  • I need to buy a pair of comfortable brown leather hiking boots. (opinion/ colour/ material/ purpose)

Well, this is the “Order of adjectives – Part I”. As soon as possible, I’ll tell you about some adjectives that we can’t use before a noun. I hope you enjoyed my explanation. When I was searching to write about this subject I found an interesting website that explains a little more about “Adjective order“. See more at: Adjectives – Word Order.

Thanking for reading my post. Bye! Drika :)

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