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

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

annoyed; finished; bored; pleased; thrilled"

The annoyed man threw his newspaper at the troublemakers.
The finished project glimmered in the morning light.
The bored child threw paper airplanes.
The please teacher gave out gold stars.
The thrilled executive gave out bonuses to everybody.

What? Is this some British-only "rule"? It strikes me as totally arbitrary. As does the following: "but we do not say:

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

Hello blakecat,

Research on words such as these using a corpus (e.g. BYU's COCA or the BNC -- these are essentially databases of a huge number of sentences from both spoken and written English) has shown that these adjectives are used much more frequently after some form of the verb 'be' (or some other link verb). This is why it says the adjectives 'are normally used' after a link verb.

This doesn't mean they aren't used at all before nouns and of course the examples you provide are perfectly correct. Perhaps it's just me, but these sentences sound a bit forced, kind of like examples from a textbook rather than sentences you'd hear in natural conversations.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello!

I need some help plis.
For me it's not clear the use of adjectives only after a link verb, because in the task 3 the sentence "Is your great-grandmother still alive?" the adjective alive is after adverb, there's something here that I'm not see?

Hello Marcela,

When it says 'only after a link verb', this doesn't mean that an adverb can't be used, it means that it's unusual to use 'alive' before a noun in a noun phrase. In 'Is your great-grandmother still alive?', 'alive' is a complement of the link verb 'is', which is natural and correct.

But a sentence like 'I love my alive great-grandmother very much' (here 'alive' is a part of the noun phrase 'my alive great-grandmother') is so unusual that native speakers would find it strange or even incorrect.

Does that make sense?

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello everyone!
Could someone explain to me why the sentence "Tom looked like an afraid rabbit." is not correct?
Thanks in advance.

Hello Malinali,

There is a small group of adjectives, most of which begin with the letter 'a', which are usually only used after link verbs. 'afraid' is one of these adjectives -- examples of others are 'asleep', 'alive', 'alone'. This is indicated in the first entry for 'afraid' in the Cambridge Dictionary -- note how it says '[after verb]'.

You can correct the sentence by using 'scared' instead: 'Tom looked like a scared rabbit'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Now I understand! Thank you very much

Regards!

Even for a native this can be tricky.

hi,
please help me how I can complete task 1? I can not add more than 1 adj in a group.

Hi Daisy April,

To add words to each group first click on the word and then click on the group. However, you need to click on the group itself (which should be coloured grey) not on a word you have already added as this will simply swap the words. The simplest way is to click on the name of the group.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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