Sometimes we use more than one adjective in front of a noun:

He was a nice intelligent young man.
She had a small round black wooden box.

Opinion adjectives:

Some adjectives give a general opinion. We can use these adjectives to describe almost any noun:

 

good bad lovely  strange
beautiful nice brilliant excellent
awful important wonderful nasty

 

Some adjectives give a specific opinion. We only use these adjectives to describe particular kinds of noun:

Food: tasty; delicious
Furniture, buildings: comfortable; uncomfortable
People, animals: clever; intelligent; friendly

We usually put a general opinion in front of a specific opinion:

Nice tasty soup.
A nasty uncomfortable armchair
A lovely intelligent animal

Usually we put an adjective that gives an opinion in front of an adjective that is descriptive:

a nice red dress; a silly old man; those horrible yellow curtains

We often have two adjectives in front of a noun:

a handsome young man; a big black car; that horrible big dog

Sometimes we have three adjectives, but this is unusual:

a nice handsome young man;
a big black American car;
that horrible big fierce dog

It is very unusual to have more than three adjectives.

Adjectives usually come in this order:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
General
opinion
Specific
opinion
Size  Shape Age  Colour Nationality Material

We use some adjectives only after a link verb:

afraid alive alone asleep
content glad  ill ready
sorry sure unable well

Some of the commonest -ed adjectives are normally used only after a link verb:

annoyed;  finished;  bored; pleased; thrilled

We say:

Our teacher was ill.
My uncle was very glad when he heard the news.
The policeman seemed to be very annoyed

but we do not say:

We had an ill teacher.
When he heard the news he was a very glad uncle
He seemed to be a very annoyed policeman

A few adjectives are used only in front of a noun:

north
south
east
west

northern
southern
eastern
western

countless
occasional
lone

eventful
indoor
outdoor

We say:

He lives in the eastern district.
There were countless problems with the new machinery.

but we do not say:

The district he lives in is eastern
The problems with the new machinery were countless.

Try these tasks to improve your adjective ordering.

Task 1

Exercise

Task 2

Exercise

Task 3

Exercise

Task 4

Exercise

 

 

Section: 

Comments

I often find it confusing to use the -ed adjectives. Which of the examples below is correct?

(1). I want to do COLOUR photocopy.
(2). I want to do COLOURED photocopy.
OR
(1). Could you pass the COLOUR copies to me?
(2). Could you pass the COLOURED copies to me?
AND
(1). The red STRIPED sofa
(2). The red STRIPED sofa

Hello MarkJide,

Sometimes more than one answer is possible and which is more common depends upon the particular noun which is being described. Collocations (words which usually appear together) are often arbitrary: there is no rule but rather a tendency or frequency. For example, we always say 'salt and pepper' rather than 'pepper and salt'. There is no grammatical reason for this - it is simply a convention.

We tend to use 'colour' as a collocation with 'photograph', 'photography', 'photocopier' and 'television' as a contrast to 'black and white'. With 'photocopies' or 'copies' we can use either 'colour' or 'coloured'. I would not like to guess which is more common, and I suspect this will vary in different dialects.

The last pair of sentences both have the same word. We would not use 'stripe' here as an adjective; 'striped' is correct.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks Peter.

Hello Sir
Please help me to understand this: What about a cold drink?
Is it wrong to say "what about a cool drink. Shall we have a cool drink or cold drink.
Is it wrong to use cool instead of cold.?
Thank you
Regards

Hello Andrew international,

The collocation here is generally 'cold' rather than 'cool'. That's simply a convention of use, just as we say 'a hot drink' rather than 'a warm drink' and we say 'salt and pepper' rather than 'pepper and salt'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello team;

I wanna be sure about difference between using 'to' and 'for' after adjective,
so when we use adj. to describe a noun or a pronoun, we shall say that:
'This book is difficult to me' not 'This book is difficult for me'
While when we use adj. to describe verb, we shall say that:
'This book is difficult for read' not 'This book is difficult to read'

Is this correct? I'm not sure

Hello masri.ahm04,

The correct forms are the other way round:

This book is difficult for me.

This book is difficult to read.

We say something is difficult for a person but difficult to do (using the infinitive with 'to' here).

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Sir,
Is it correct to use late in this way: "he asked me to receive a call in late November" (i would like to say that he asked a call for the end of november) If "late" is an adjective, is the meaning I need correct?
Hope it make sense!
Sara

Hello Sara,

Yes, that is correct -- good work! 'late' means 'near the end'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir
The adjective elephantine (formal) means according to the dictionary I use is 'very large.'
The example it has given is: 'She is so tiny she makes me feel elephantine,
I can't understand this example.
Could you please explain the above sentence for me.? I mean the adjective 'tiny.' The reason why the writer has used that adjective. Is it to show that the writer compare to
her feel very big.? I am I correct ?
Thank you.

Thank you.

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