order of adjectives


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
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:





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


Task 2


Task 3


Task 4






I would have great relief if you could help me out here. Demonstrative adjectives are words which point out to the exact noun we wish to refer to, isn't it? This, that, these and those are examples of demonstrative adjectives. Why is it noticed that, this and that are used with singular nouns;these and those are used with plural nouns??????

Hello crusoe,

It's true that most adjectives in English do not change according to the number of the noun they modify, but, as you've noticed 'this' (singular) becomes 'these' (plural) and 'that' (singular) becomes 'those' (plural). I suspect this has to do with the evolution of the English language over time; I don't know Old English, but I do know that in Old English adjectives were inflected according to the number and gender of the nouns they modified. Most of this has dropped away in modern English, but what you ask about is a remnant of that.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir,
I would like to ask about the reason why we say: " Secretary General"
although we know that the adjective comes before the noun.

Hello Mai Sayed,

This is a word of French derivation and follows the French word order. The plural is 'Secretaries General'. A similar example is 'Attorney General'.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

What is the difference in saying "Maybe another time" vs "Maybe in another time" ? When the preposition "in" is included and how the meaning of the phrase changes?


Hello MayelaM,

'Maybe another time' means 'not now, but maybe in the future'.

'Maybe in another time' would only be used if you could travel to another time - i.e.  in some kind of science-fiction time-travelling story. In other contexts it is not standard use.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir,
Thanks for this nice informative article! I have just one question here.

It says above that this sentence would be wrong:
"The problems with the new machinery were countless.", while that sounds right to me.
Is it because we just don't use 'countless' in spoken English this way, or there's some other reason, for not putting 'countless' anywhere but at the front of the noun?

Thank you!

Hello adtyagrwl3,

As far as I know, there is no 'logical' reason that this group of adjectives are used only in attributive position (i.e. before the noun) – I believe it's just a question of use. Using 'countless' in predicative position (i.e. after the verb) is still perfectly comprehensible.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team