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 team!
Do these sentences have same meaning?
"I took the printed photos"
"I took the photos printed"
Are words of "printed" in these sentences adjective?

Thank you!

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

Hello Kirk!

We can say "I took the photos that had been printed".
But as you say, we can't say "I took the photos printed" Do we always have to use long form?

Or, for example, we can say "I took the photos that had been printed on papers".And the short form of this sentence, "I took the photos printed on papers."

Could you please tell me what the difference is?

Hello Goktug123,

'...that had been printed' is a defining relative clause and it is possible to reduce it to 'the photos printed' provided that the context is clear. For example, if you talked about printing the photos from your computer then talking next about 'the photos printed' would make sense.

 

It's fine to say '...the photos printed on paper' (singular, as 'paper' is uncountable). I'm not sure why you would specify this, however, as almost all photos are printed on paper. You would only say if there were, for example, some photos printed on something else and you wanted to say 'the photos printed on paper, not the photos printed on T-shirts', for example.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter!

Thank you for explaining.

I did not understand clearly what you wanted to say in this sentence:

'"it is possible to reduce it to 'the photos printed' provided that the context is clear."

Can you please explain?

Hello Goktung123,

It is possible to say the photos printed as a reduced relative clause from examples like the photos which I printed or the photos which were printed. If the context makes it clear that this is the reference then it would be understood.

 

Defining relative clauses have a reference function: they identify a noun in some way, defining it as different to other examples. Thus, if I say the table I painted then I am identifying a specific table as opposed to any other table.

 

When you say the photos printed you are identifying one set of photos and separating it from other sets of photos. The listener needs to understand this. They need to know that there are many photos and that some were printed. If they do not already know this then the reference is not clear. Thus, if the context makes it clear that there are many photos and that you have some that were printed, then you can use this reference. If not then it does not make sense.

 

You can see this in action with your first question. There was no context given and so the phrase did not seem correct to Kirk. Only when you explained the context did it make sense to us.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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

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

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

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