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

Hello,

I am curious to know the adjective form of 'language'

Hello amol,

'linguistic' is an adjective derived from 'language', though it doesn't work in all cases. English has quite a few noun + noun combinations, where the first noun acts like an adjective, e.g. 'language laboratory'. 

Hope this helps you.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello.

Does any kind of system exist in English that shows what preposition should take place after adjective, noun, or verb?

Thank you.

Hello MCWSL,

The various prepositions do have core meanings - 'in' suggests position, for example, whereas 'to' and 'from' suggest movement - but these are quite general and do not really help wiht collocations of the sort you are asking about. It really is a question of learning them, I'm afraid.

I would say that the best approach is to read widely and regularly in English. You will assimilate the patterns without actively learning them as you are exposed to them. We also have many pages which you might find helpful:

verbs & prepositions

adjectives & prepositions

adverbials of place (follow the links on the right)

prepositional phrases

two- and three-part verbs

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

could you please help me to find out the mistake in the sentence given below: Tom looked like an afraid rabbit.

Hello Chandni Vaswani,

As it says on the page, there are some adjectives we use only after a link verb and not before a noun; 'afraid' is one of these. We could say 'He looked afraid', without a noun.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello. Could you explain how to use past participle, present participle adjectives?
I will give you an example that it is confusing to me.
I ordered my (wanting or wanted) books?

Hello MCWSL,

The correct adjective here is 'wanted' because the meaning is 'wanted by me'. We would not use 'wanting' here.

-ed participle adjectives generally have a passive meaning:

I was frightened - something frightened me/I was frightened by something

-ing participle adjectives generally have an active meaning:

I was frightening - I frightened something

You can read more about this on this page.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,
Is it possible to grade adjectives like perfect and outstanding ?
Can I use more/most outstanding/perfect ?
Regards,
Petals

Hello Petals,

While this can be done in an ironic manner, or for literary purposes (deliberately breaking the rules for effect), it is not standard use. To qualify limit adjectives like 'perfect' and 'outstanding' we generally use one of four adverbs: completelytotallyabsolutely or utterly.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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