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

Grouping_MTQwNzg=

Order of adjectives 2

ReorderingHorizontal_MTQwNzk=

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

MultipleChoice_MTQwODE=

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

ReorderingHorizontal_MTQwODI=

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.

Do you need to improve your English grammar?
Join thousands of learners from around the world who are improving their English grammar with our online courses.

Hello Goktug123

Yes, that's right, 'printed' is an adjective here. In general, adjectives go before the noun they modify, so the first sentence is correct and the second one is not.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by anie1 on Fri, 01/02/2019 - 08:02

Permalink
Hello, I would like to ask the following 1. When we want to order coffee with or without sugar a.with no sugar we can say I would like my coffee black? even if it is espresso? b.with little sugar,I would like my coffee mild or medium?(for any kind of coffee) 2. When someone liives in the north/south part of a city,we say He lives in the northen/southern suburb of Rome/Madrid etc? Thank you in advance
Profile picture for user Kirk

Submitted by Kirk on Fri, 01/02/2019 - 11:04

In reply to by anie1

Permalink

Hello agie

If you say you want your coffee black, it means with no milk. Everywhere I've been, they give you a packet of sugar so you can add it yourself if you want it. The same is true for an espresso.

If I were in a place where the server added the sugar, I'd say 'just a little sugar' to communicate that.

A suburb is technically outside a city. I'd probably say the 'northern part of Madrid'.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by html on Fri, 18/01/2019 - 11:43

Permalink
Good day! I would like to know why it's ungrammatical to say I am AN English and I am AN American? I read in some books saying that it's grammatical to say I am An English or I am AN American. Is there any grammar rules when to use an + nationality or no article + nationality. Thanks.

Hello html,

It depends whether you are using a noun or an adjective.

 

The correct forms for nationalities using a noun are as follows:

I am an Englishman.

I am an American.

 

If you use an adjective then no article is needed:

I am English.

I am American.

 

Note that the noun and the adjective sometimes look the same (American, for example).

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by chrisp on Tue, 27/11/2018 - 13:12

Permalink
Hello, which of these two options is right? black wavy hair or wavy black hair? short curly black hair or short black curly hair? Thank you for your answer!

Hi chrisp,

What I'd say is 'wavy, black hair'. To be honest, I don't think I'd ever say the second combination of adjectives -- it's quite rare to use more than a couple. But if I had to, I suppose I'd say 'short, curly, black hair'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by anie1 on Mon, 05/11/2018 - 06:25

Permalink
Hello, I would like to ask what the following sentence means; I work funny hours funny means, not 9 am-5 pm? Thank you in advance
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Mon, 05/11/2018 - 07:01

In reply to by anie1

Permalink

Hello agie,

In this context 'funny' means strange or odd. That would suggest hours which are not typical or hours which are not regular, and certainly not regular 9-5.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by anie1 on Sat, 27/10/2018 - 05:41

Permalink
Hello, I would like to ask which of the following words is correct When we want to describe a city with many people and restaurants, bars. We can say that this city is full of life? It is a vivid city? or it is a living city? Thank you in advance
Profile picture for user Kirk

Submitted by Kirk on Sat, 27/10/2018 - 16:29

In reply to by anie1

Permalink

Hi anie2,

Yes, 'full of life' is good. You could also say 'vibrant', but I wouldn't say 'vivid' or 'living' here.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Sasan1989 on Wed, 03/10/2018 - 08:11

Permalink
Hi every one. Could you please help me to find out how can I use these pair-adj next to each other? Healthy Distinct Sport or Distinct healthy Sport? Which one them is Correct? Thank you ^.^

Hi Sasan1989,

My ear tells me that the correct order if 'distinct healthy sport'. I'm afraid, however, that since I don't understand what a 'distinct sport' would be, it's difficult for me to justify or explain my intuition. If you could explain what you mean by this and what context it would be in, I can try to help you understand it a bit better.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by amol on Wed, 22/08/2018 - 06:28

Permalink
Hello Sir, Do we need to use articles before both the adjectives used for the same person? She is a tall and a beautiful lady. Or She is a tall and beautiful lady. Kindly help. Regards

Hello amol,

You only need to use the article once. It is not grammatically incorrect to repeat it, but it is poor stylistically.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Elusik on Fri, 13/04/2018 - 21:47

Permalink
Hello!!! Could you please help me with the words "big" and "large", "small" and "little"?? which one is correct large room, or big room?? small baby, liitle baby....etc??
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Sat, 14/04/2018 - 07:16

In reply to by Elusik

Permalink

Hello Elusik,

All of them are correct and it is really a question of style and context as to which is preferable in a given example.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user mitykg

Submitted by mitykg on Mon, 02/04/2018 - 08:32

Permalink
what is Task 3 for ? The different couple words are not explained here or I do not understand this lesson ? I do not understand the answers of task 3, why its answer choose this but not that. afraid and frightened. alive and living. asleep and sleeping. well and healthy. ill and sick.

Hi mitykg,

Task 3 covers characteristics of some adjectives. 'afraid', for example, is not used predicatively, i.e. before a noun -- this is mentioned in the explanation above where it says that some adjectives are used only after a link verb. Therefore, the third option in the first sentence is incorrect, since 'afraid' is not used this way.

The other pairs of adjectives work similarly -- the first ones are not use predicatively, whereas the second ones are.

Does that make sense?

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Van Hua on Thu, 22/03/2018 - 11:38

Permalink
HI, Could you please have a check "adjective" part. I can't see the content, except "the order of adjective" Thanks and Best Regards Van

Submitted by Van Hua on Thu, 22/03/2018 - 10:58

Permalink
HI, Could you please have a check of " adjective-ed and -ing". I pressed the next button, but that part didn't come up. I tried on the computer and my phone as well. I think it's possible the error system Thanks a lot
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Fri, 23/03/2018 - 06:28

In reply to by Van Hua

Permalink

Hi Van Hua,

Thank you for letting us know about this. It seems that some of the links here are not working correctly. I have passed it on to our technical team and I hope they will fix the problem quickly.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user David Araque

Submitted by David Araque on Thu, 04/01/2018 - 23:25

Permalink
Good afternoon dear Peter and Kirk. I have a problem with the order of the following sentence and I will really appreciate your help. The__________(two, afternoon, interesting, teacher's, classes) are large. I don't know where to put the genitive in those structures. The two interesting afternoon teacher's classes are large. Or The two teacher's interesting afternoon classes are large. The teacher's interesting two afternoon classes are large.

Hello David Araque,

We generally do not provide answers to questions that are from elsewhere (other sites, books or tests) as we cannot become an answering service for people's homework! However, I can give you a clue which should help you. The clue is that the word teacher's here refers to only one teacher and so the word two must refer to classes, which is the only plural noun. That should help you as it is clear what the other adjectives can describe.

If you try to answer it yourself we will tell you if you have it right or not.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you so much dear Peter for your assistance. So the correct sentence would be: The teacher's two interesting afternoon classes are large.

Hello David,

Yes, that sounds right to me and as far as I can see is the only correct answer.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team