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

It is given that adjectives usually follow in the order general opinion >specific opinion>size etc.. An example is also given "horrible big fierce dog". According to the rule, big,which describes size, has to be placed after fierce, which is a specific opinion. Is the usage "horrible big fierce dog" a deviation from the rule?

Hello sreekanthskn,
Thank you for the interesting question.  As you probably know, adjective order in English has tendencies rather than fixed rules - as you can see from the information above, which says 'usually' rather than 'always' in many places.
I've thought about your question a little and it seems to me that while the order you suggest is a good rule of thumb, adjectives which describe character or personality tend to come after adjectives which describe size.  For example:
I've got a big lazy dog at home. [not '...a lazy big dog']
My brother is a small friendly man. [not '...a friendly small man']
However, I'm sure it is possible to find some sentences which are not constructed like this!  As I said, these are not hard and fast rules.
Thanks again for the question.  I'm sure it was of interest to quite a few other learners.
Best wishes,
 
Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,
I often hear sentences like "The trip was eventful" and "The game will be held outdoor" etc... - they sounded alright to me. So are they technically incorrect if we were to follow the grammar rule above?

Hi ahlong,
The examples you give are a little different.  The first one is an example of a slightly different use of the adjective: following a verb (a predicative adjective) rather than coming before a noun (an attributive adjective).  For example, compare:
It was an eventful trip.
The trip was eventful.
Your second example appears incorrect to me as an adverb ('outdoors') is needed rather than an adjective ('outdoor').  The sentence should be:
'The game will be held outdoors.'
I hope that clarifies it for you.
Best wishes,
 
Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, is there an adjective list for adjectives as "alive vs living" / "affraid vs frightened" , etc available on the site?  How are those pair of adjectives called?  Thanks

Hello MayelaM,
The pairs that you've mentioned are examples of synonyms or partial synonyms.  I'm afraid we don't have lists of these on the site but I'm sure you can find lists like this through an Internet search.
Best wishes,
 
Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

Great! Job guys. I would like to include this into the definition of an adjective. An adjective modifies a noun and a pronoun.

Dear
May i know the difference between east and eastern

Hello hamadbaghdadi,

In general terms, the difference is that 'east' is used in political or official names, while 'eastern' is used as a geographical term. So, we used to talk about 'East Germany' and 'West Germany', and we still talk about 'North Korea' and 'South Korea'. If we say 'southern Korea' then we are not talking about a country but rather a part of the country, just as we might say 'southern England'. However, this is a distinction which has many exceptions and inconsistencies. Thus we can say both 'North Africa' and 'northern Africa' to describe the same thing - a geographical region - but 'southern Africa' (a geographical region) and South Africa (a country) are different things! The part of Ireland which is still part of the United Kingdom (a political entity) is described as 'Northern Ireland', not 'North Ireland'. I'm afraid it is a very confusing area!

I hope that clarifies it somewhat for you.

Best wishes,

Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you so much for your usuql support and kind help

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