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Adjective order

Level: intermediate

Two adjectives

We often have two adjectives in front of a noun:

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

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

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

He's a good/wonderful/brilliant/bad/dreadful teacher.

That's a good/wonderful/brilliant/bad/dreadful book.

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

Food Furniture, buildings People, animals
delicious
tasty
comfortable
uncomfortable
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

We usually put an opinion adjective in front of a descriptive adjective:

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

Order of adjectives 1

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Order of adjectives 2

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Adjectives after link verbs

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
bored
finished
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.

Order of adjectives 3

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Level: advanced

Three or more adjectives

Sometimes we have three adjectives in front of a noun, 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
Order of adjectives 4­

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Adjectives in front of nouns

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

north
south
east
west

northern
southern
eastern
western
countless
occasional
lone
mere
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.

Comments

Hello! I have a sentence in my grammar book "She wore shiny silver wings" (the talk is about a costume party.) Could you please explain me, which type of adjectives these two "shiny" and "silver" are. One source says that shiny is an opinion, another says it is a condition/state. And is silver a colour (here)?

Hello lizaantonova

Yes, I'd say that 'shiny' is best seen as an opinion, though I can understand how that might seem odd. 'silver' could be a colour or a material, depending on what the wings are made of.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Kirk hello, than you for the answer. It helped me much. So as I understand silver winds which a little girl wore at a costume party were silver in colour… So thank you a lot.

Hello. In the following sentence, which one is correct: "Rising food prices" or "Food rising prices"?
- Rising food prices are a common concern for most people nowadays.
Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam

The first one is correct.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Kirk/Peter

I am confused about adjective orders because in some references I saw "Age" before "Shape". Is it possible both of them could be true? thanks for your help and your amazing topics.

Ardalan

Hello Ardalan,

Adjective order is somewhat flexible in English and there may be some variation – this is why we say adjectives usually come in the order given, not always.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello respected Teachers.
1. The chicken in the farm are fatted up nicely.
Please tell me whether this sentence is correct or not. If not why.
what would be the correct answer and why.
Is fatted a adjective, which is now archaic.

Regards

Hello Deviljin,

The correct verb for this action is fatten. I think the best option is a present perfect passive form:

The chickens have been fattened up nicely.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,
I would like to ask if the following is correct
If a house is big can we say:
Inside my house is quite spacious?
This sentence is correct?
Thank you in advance

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