Order of Adjectives: Useful Rules & Examples

Order of Adjectives in English!! Learn how to put the adjectives in the correct order with useful rules, examples and ESL printable infographic.

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Order of Adjectives | Rules

Many times we use more than one adjective with a noun. In such situation, it is important to arrange the adjectives in the correct order according to their types. This systematic arrangement of adjectives and the rationale behind it is called the ‘order of adjectives’.

Some of the rules that need to be kept in mind while ordering the adjectives are:

Determiners like articles (a, an, the), possessives (my, your, etc.), demonstratives (this, that, etc.), quantifiers (some, any, few, many, etc.) and numbers (one, two, three, etc.) always appear before anything else.

– The general order is OPINION before FACTS. This means that opinions should always come before facts while arranging the adjectives before noun. For example: in the clause ‘a beautiful ancient house’, ‘a’ being a determiner should come first, ‘beautiful’, i.e., the opinion should come next before the fact, i.e., ‘ancient’. Finally, ‘house’ should come which is the main noun.

– Therefore, the normal order that is followed is: Determiner/Opinion Adjectives/Fact Adjectives/Nouns.

– Fact adjectives can be further broken down and arranged into: other / size, shape, age, colour / origin / material / purpose.

Adjective Order | Examples

  • A big black dog (opinion/size/color)
  • A beautiful old house (opinion/age)
  • A tall thin man (size/shape)
  • An expensive Italian sports car (opinion/nationality/type)
  • A small wooden table (size/material)
  • A delicious homemade apple pie (opinion/type/origin)
  • A shiny new silver watch (quality/age/color/material)
  • An adorable little baby kitten (opinion/size)
  • A modern minimalist apartment (age/style)
  • A soft fluffy white pillow (texture/shape/color)
  • A rusty old bicycle (quality/age)
  • A spacious comfortable leather sofa (size/comfort/material)
  • A beautiful delicate porcelain vase (opinion/material)
  • A traditional Japanese wooden house (origin/material)
  • A pretty pink floral dress (opinion/color/type)
  • A fast red sports car (quality/color/type)
  • A stunning majestic mountain range (opinion/size)
  • A smart intelligent young student (opinion/age)
  • A crisp refreshing cold beer (texture/temperature/opinion)
  • An intricate delicate gold necklace (quality/material/color)

Practice Exercises

Here are some practice exercises to test your knowledge of the order of adjectives:

#1. Which of the following sentences has the correct order of adjectives?

a) The big, red, leather, Italian, designer purse.

b) The designer, red, big, leather, Italian purse.

c) The Italian, designer, big, red, leather purse.

d) The red, leather, Italian, designer, big purse.

#2. Choose the correct order of adjectives for the following sentence:

a) The tiny, old, wooden, beautiful, Japanese house.

b) The beautiful, wooden, tiny, old, Japanese house.

c) The Japanese, old, tiny, wooden, beautiful house.

d) The old, wooden, tiny, Japanese, beautiful house.

#3. Which of the following sentences has the correct order of adjectives?

a) A delicious, hot, Mexican, beef, spicy taco.

b) A spicy, Mexican, hot, delicious, beef taco.

c) A hot, delicious, spicy, Mexican, beef taco.

d) A beef, Mexican, hot, spicy, delicious taco.

#4. Choose the correct order of adjectives for the following sentence:

a) The gorgeous, new, purple, silk, expensive dress.

b) The expensive, purple, new, gorgeous, silk dress.

c) The silk, expensive, purple, new, gorgeous dress.

d) The new, expensive, purple, gorgeous, silk dress.

Answers:

  1. a) The big, red, leather, Italian, designer purse.
  2. a) The tiny, old, wooden, beautiful, Japanese house.
  3. c) A hot, delicious, spicy, Mexican, beef taco.
  4. d) The new, expensive, purple, gorgeous, silk dress.

Common Mistakes and Tips

Common Mistakes

  • Incorrect order of adjectives: A common mistake is to place the adjectives in the wrong order. Remember the general order of adjectives: opinion, size, age, shape, color, origin, material, purpose. Keep in mind that not all adjectives will fit into every category and that some adjectives can be interchangeable.
  • Using too many adjectives: Another common mistake is using too many adjectives, which can make sentences sound cluttered and confusing. Try to limit yourself to two or three adjectives at most and choose the ones that best describe the noun.
  • Using adjectives that don’t make sense together: Some adjectives don’t make sense when used together, such as “hot cold coffee.” Make sure that the adjectives you choose make sense and accurately describe the noun.
  • Forgetting the commas: When using multiple adjectives, remember to use commas to separate them. This helps to clarify the order of the adjectives and makes the sentence easier to read.
  • Varying the order: While it is important to follow the general order of adjectives, there is some flexibility in the order depending on the emphasis you want to place on certain adjectives. Experiment with different orders to see which one sounds best in context.

Tips

  • Read and listen to English as much as possible to become more familiar with the order of adjectives in natural speech and writing.
  • Use a thesaurus to find synonyms for adjectives to avoid repetition and enhance your writing.
  • Practice writing sentences with multiple adjectives to improve your proficiency.
  • When in doubt, try to simplify the sentence by using fewer adjectives or by rephrasing it.
Related Resources:
Order of Adjectives Possessive Adjectives
Coordinate Adjectives Compound Adjectives
Demonstrative Adjectives Predicate Adjective
Superlative Adjective Descriptive Adjectives
Interrogative Adjectives Comparative and Superlative Adjectives
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George Thankachen
George Thankachen
4 years ago

May I point out a mistake in the opening sentence ! Isn’t it “Many a time” rather than Many a times.

Wilde Hesse
Wilde Hesse
4 years ago

How can you mix “many” and “times” which are plurals with “a” that means 1? I believe you are mistaken. By the way, it says “Many times”, which is correct. Perhaps they noticed the mistake and corrected it. Regards.

Robert
Robert
3 years ago

Very useful. Thanks!

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