Adjective order

Learn about the word order when you have more than one adjective and do the exercises to practise using it.

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.

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Hello again Najmiii3579,

Yes, that correct.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by PabloTT on Fri, 07/08/2020 - 05:47

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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

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Submitted by OlaIELTS on Sun, 21/06/2020 - 18:55

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It's really helpful.

Submitted by Timothy555 on Tue, 09/06/2020 - 16:45

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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?
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Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 10/06/2020 - 07:09

In reply to by Timothy555

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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

Submitted by MEGI MURRIZI on Sat, 06/06/2020 - 09:11

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Hello all. Can someone tell me the difference in meaning between his first beautiful book and his beautiful first book? Thank you in advance.
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Submitted by Kirk on Sat, 06/06/2020 - 14:55

In reply to by MEGI MURRIZI

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Hello Megi Murrizi

I'm going to assume you're talking about a writer who had published some books. If you say 'his first beautiful book', it means he's published books but that the one you are talking about is the first one that is beautiful. If you say 'his beautiful first book', you are talking about his first book and are saying that it's beautiful.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Timothy555 on Sat, 23/05/2020 - 09:21

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Hi, I know that adjectives which go before a noun are called attributive adjectives (e.g. "Old" as in "The old man"), while adjectives that come after the noun and which also follows a linking verb, are known as predicate adjective (e.g. The man is old). My question is, is there any difference at all in meaning between both clauses (the old man vs the man is old) since the adjective used (old) is simply describing a quality or characteristic of the man? Regards, Tim
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Submitted by Peter M. on Sun, 24/05/2020 - 07:31

In reply to by Timothy555

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Hi Tim,

I don't think there is any difference. There may be with certain adjectives in certain contexts, though none come to mind, but I think it's more a question of style.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by lizaantonova on Fri, 08/05/2020 - 13:05

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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

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Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Sun, 03/05/2020 - 19:46

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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.

Submitted by Ardalan on Fri, 17/04/2020 - 15:49

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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

Submitted by Deviljin on Sun, 12/04/2020 - 17:47

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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

Submitted by anie1 on Sun, 10/11/2019 - 07:10

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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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Submitted by Kirk on Mon, 11/11/2019 - 08:44

In reply to by anie1

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Hello agie

I'd just say 'my house is quite spacious' (without 'inside').

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by anie1 on Wed, 06/11/2019 - 07:28

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Hello, I would like to ask which of the following is correct In the question How are you? When we want to say that we are happy Which of the following is better Answer 1.I am good or 2.I am fine. Sometimes I have seen that I am fine can have a positive and or negative meaning? Thank you in advance
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Submitted by Kirk on Wed, 06/11/2019 - 07:42

In reply to by anie1

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Hello agie

In speaking, the tone of voice is really important in communicating what you really mean. In general, though, 'good' is stronger than 'fine', which can mean something more like 'OK' than 'good'. Many people say 'good' or 'fine' even when they are having quite a hard time, but I suppose that's a separate issue.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by anie1 on Mon, 04/11/2019 - 08:50

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Hello, I would like to ask you which of the following is correct When our house is full of sun, the sun comes from the windows inside the house, we say 1.Our house is bright or 2 Our house is light? Thank you in advance

Submitted by anie1 on Sun, 03/11/2019 - 12:18

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Hello, I would like to ask which of the following is correct When we really like the house we live we say 1.The house is suitable for us? Is suitable ok? Thank you in advance
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Submitted by Peter M. on Mon, 04/11/2019 - 07:03

In reply to by anie1

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Hello agie,

'Suitable' sounds positive but not particularly enthusiastic. It tells us that the house is the right size/location etc, but not that we really like it.

You can use any thesaurus to find alternative ways to say 'good'.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Cloudy Cloudy on Wed, 30/10/2019 - 02:50

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hello everyone ! I would like to ask something. Since some pages i found say that the order of adjectives could be : Opinion - Size - Age - Shape - Colour - Origin - Material - Purpose The order is a little bit different Would anyone tell me if it is acceptable ? I would be thankful If you guys could help Thank you in advanceeeeee !!!!

Hello Cloudy Cloudy

In reality, it's very unusual to use more than a couple of adjectives in a series, so most of the time the order here and whatever order you saw elsewhere will probably yield the same result. We think the most useful order to learn is the one on our page. 

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Backlight on Sun, 20/10/2019 - 07:31

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In these Adjectives in front of nouns section, this section had contained all of adjective in the guideline that stated above? This means that in these Adjectives in front of nouns is just provided in these sections and no more adjectives. I know my expression is not that good can make any reader can understand what I am asking for. So, I will provide some examples of my question. For example, examples were given at guideline and are it will some adjectives will also belong to Adjectives in front of nouns section such as "busily" , "honestly". Thank you in advance that understand what i am asking for.

Hello Backlight

No, the list of adjectives in Adjectives in front of nouns is not comprehensive -- in other words, there are other adjectives like these one. A complete grammar reference for English would be extremely long; what we provide here is what we feel are the most important points for learners of English.

I think I have answered your question, but if not, please feel free to ask us again.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by anie1 on Thu, 03/10/2019 - 09:05

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Hello, I would like to ask if the following are correct 1. This is a casual classic restaurant(does this make sense?) Thank you in advance

Submitted by anie1 on Tue, 01/10/2019 - 14:59

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Hello, I would like to ask if the following is correct My level in French (language) is enough to speak, but needs improvement. 2.I am far from enough? Thank you in advance
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Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 02/10/2019 - 07:15

In reply to by anie1

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Hello agie,

You need to include an adjective before 'enough' in the first sentence: '...is high enough to...'

The second sentence does not seem to make sense. I'm not sure why you have 'I' there. You could say 'It is far from enough', where 'it' refers to your level and the word 'high' is omitted because it was used in a previous sentence.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by InmaLD on Mon, 23/09/2019 - 19:53

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The problems with the new machinery were countless Why is this not correct? Couldn't both be correct?

Hello InmaLD

I'm afraid there is no easy way to explain this; it's just the way English is used. Anyone would understand the sentence you propose, but it would sound unnatural to native speakers.

By the way, our House Rules ask you to write only in English so that everyone can understand your comments. I have translated your question into English, but in the future we won't be able to do this for you.

Thanks in advance for your understanding.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by MissR on Thu, 15/08/2019 - 21:11

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Hi, Im so confused. Which one is correct, " Big beautiful house." Or Beautiful big house."? I see sentenced where Size comes first before the quality, how so? Thank you so much.
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Submitted by Kirk on Mon, 19/08/2019 - 20:17

In reply to by MissR

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Hello MissR

The rules here are guidelines, which means they don't explain every single possibility. If you explained the full context, that might help us be able to explain it.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Pabs Chile on Thu, 01/08/2019 - 00:37

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Hi! I have a doubt. By descriptive adjective do you mean a fact? that's what I have seen in other explanations as there are several different explanations for adjective order. For example "a delicious fried chicken" was given as an example of personal opinion and then a fact. Would you say that a descriptive adjective is something like a fact then? Thank you in advance!

Hello Pablo Diablo

Yes, despite the differences in name, that's the idea. The important thing is distinguishing between an opinion and something more objective.

In that example, 'delicious' is an opinion and 'fried' is a fact/description. For example, for many people, fried chicken is delicious, but for vegans it is disgusting. On the other hand, a fried chicken is fried whether you are a vegan or a meat-eater.

Does that make sense?

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Roman... on Mon, 15/07/2019 - 22:28

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Hello there, this has nothing to do with this topic, but I'd like to know how i can find a description of the tenses here on this site for example "present simple tense" Thank you

Submitted by anie1 on Mon, 20/05/2019 - 09:32

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Hello, I would like to ask if the following word, demanding, is properly used in the following sentence: This school/university is demanding(I would like to say that it is really good so someone has to study and have high marks in order to succeed) Thank you in advance
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Submitted by Kirk on Mon, 20/05/2019 - 14:32

In reply to by anie1

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Hello agie As far as I know, 'demanding' is normally used to speak of a specific course or teacher (e.g. 'Inorganic chemistry is really demanding' or 'Professor Smith is more demanding than most'), but I think you could say that. All the best Kirk The LearnEnglish Team
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Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Mon, 01/04/2019 - 21:35

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Could you help me please? Are all the following sentences correct? If so, what is the difference between them? - England and Germany are in north Europe. - England and Germany are in northern Europe. - England and Germany are in northerly Europe. Thank you.
Hello Ahmed Imam, Only the second sentence is correct here. 'Northern' is an adjective and has a relative meaning. It describes a part of a larger whole (the part of Europe which is more to the north) 'North' as an adjective is generally used in proper nouns ('the North Pole', 'the North Star', 'North Carolina') or in certain expressions ('the north face of a mountain', 'the north part of London'). 'Northerly' as an adjective usually describes direction ('they set off in a northerly direction'). ~ Peter The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Goktug123 on Sat, 09/03/2019 - 17:48

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Hello Team! I have a question. Do these two sentences have same meaning "Find someone as wild as you run with","Find someone just as wild to run with you"? Thank you!

Hello Goktung123,

The first sentence has a mistake. It should be '...as you to run with'.

 

In terms of meaning there is only one distinction.

The first sentence makes it clear that the point of comparison is 'you': ...someone as wild as you...

The second sentence leaves this ambiguous: ...someone just as wild (as who?)...

 Of course, the context may make this clear.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter thank you for your kind help! ActualIy I thought if "to run" modifies "wild" in the second sentence.(how wild(quantity) he/she is) For example,we can say,"He/she is brave enough to run with me" Can we do that kind of comparison with "as adj as or just as adj" ? Thank you!

Hello Goktug123

I hope you don't mind me answering for Peter. I'm not completely sure I understand your question, but let me answer what I think you are asking about.

The 'as + adj + as' structure does quantify the adjective, but this quantification is relative to another person. In 'She is just as brave as me', 'me' is this reference point, but if you don't mention who the other person is after the second 'as', then it must be understood from context -- for example, maybe the sentences before explain who this person is and how brave they are. There must be another person whose bravery is described for this structure to make sense.

'She is brave enough to run with me' also quantifies 'her' bravery, but her bravery is not compared to my bravery -- it is relative to whatever it is about my running that requires bravery. Again, this has to be understood from the context.

I hope this answers your question, but if not, please ask again, making your question as specific as possible.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Zeeshan Siddiqii on Fri, 01/03/2019 - 06:11

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Is the use of the adjective 'required' correct in the following sentence? "The man got such dams built that its water comes in the field only as per required."

Hello Zeeshan Siddiqii,

The correct form here would be as required, without 'per'. I would suggest one or two other changes to make the sentence more natural:

The man had dams built in such a way that the water comes into the field only as required.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team