You are here

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.

Comments

Dear English Team,

1. The government's response seems to have been at best confused and at worst dishonest

Why is "confused" instead of "confusing" used here?

2. its unique group of investors is equipped with the appropriate long-term investment horizon, expertise and capital required to realize its potential

Does "required" modify capital only or "investment, horizon, expertise and capital"? Could I say "with the appropriate and required long-term...and capital to realize..."?

Hello Najmiii3579,

Confused is used in your example because it describes the characteristic of the response, not how it makes other people feel. When we say something such as a response, an answer or an explanation is confused, we mean that it is incoherent, not well constructed or illogical. It may also be confusing - hard for others to understand.

 

In your second example, there is some ambiguity, but the normal understanding of this kind of sentence unless there is some reason to think otherwise is that the adjective describes the whole list and not only the final element. If the speaker wanted the adjective to refer only to 'capital' then they could break the sentence up to make that clear:

its unique group of investors is equipped with the appropriate long-term investment horizon and expertise, as well as the capital required to realize its potential

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Peter,

As to the 2nd example, "as well as" would put less emphasis on the noun that follows it (in this case, the capital). If I want to avoid this effect while ensuring that 'required' modifies only 'capital', could I say:

"its unique group of investors is equipped with the appropriate long-term investment horizon, expertise, and the capital required to realize its potential"

Hello again Najmiii3579,

Yes, that correct.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello teachers,

I would like to ask two questions

1. The companies are unable to undertake the huge investment necessary to build out the numbers of factories required. - Could I say "...build out the required numbers of factories." instead?

2. The government should take all measures possible to ensure elections are properly carried out. - Could I say "...all possible measures to ensure..."

Thank you in advance.

Hello PabloTT,

The second sentence is fine and you could use either form without any change in meaning.

With the first sentence, your suggestion is also fine, but the sentence itself does not seem very natural to me. I would use build rather than build out; build out does not seem a correct form to me.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

It's really helpful.

Hi,

If I say "tasty cookies, sweets or cakes in the box", does "tasty" modify each item, such that "tasty cookies, sweets or cakes in the box" = "tasty cookies, tasty sweets or tasty cakes in the box"?

Also, is there any difference between "tasty cookies, sweets or cakes in the box" and "tasty cookies, sweets and cakes in the box", that is will the choice of "or" or "and" result in any difference in meaning?

Hi Tim,

It's really ambiguous whether the adjective tasty describes only the first noun or all nouns in the list. The listener would need to judge based on contextual clues.

 

As far as the conjunctions go, or implies a choice of some kind: you can have or take one of the items but not all, for example. Using and does not imply this.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello all.
Can someone tell me the difference in meaning between his first beautiful book and his beautiful first book? Thank you in advance.

Pages