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:


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

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


Order of adjectives 2


Adjectives after link verbs

We use some adjectives only after a link verb:


Some of the commonest -ed adjectives are normally used only after a link verb:


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


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


Adjectives in front of nouns

A few adjectives are used only in front of a noun:




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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Hi Sourav, The choice of the words - expect and expected - depends on whether you'd like to use active or passive voice. In my opinion, what we can expect is a change of the teachers' role, but not their disappearance from the classroom. (active - you make it clear it is 'our' expectation) In my opinion, what can be expected is a change of the teachers' role, but not their disappearance from the classroom. (passive - you omit the subject here, i.e. you are not indicating whose expectation it is) Almost all tenses (perfect continuous tenses aren't used in passive form) can be used in active or passive form. We generally use the passive form when we don't know or don't wish to reveal who the doer of the action is, or when we wish to highlight the result of something. Irrespective of the tense, the main verb of a passive sentence is always in past participle form - that's the reason why you can't use 'expect' (it's the base form of the verb) in your sentence. Since there is also the modal verb 'can' in your sentence, the helping verb 'be' has to be present too. Here's another example: I can beat John at tennis. (active) John can be beaten at tennis. (passive) Here's a slightly different version: I'm sure I can beat John at tennis. (active) I'm sure John can be beaten at tennis. (passive) Do you see how in the passive version, the speaker sounds less pompous, because it doesn't say who is going to defeat John. Hope the explanation makes sense. :-)

Najmiii3579 提交于 周四, 20/08/2020 - 06:18

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



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.



The LearnEnglish Team

PabloTT 提交于 周五, 07/08/2020 - 05:47

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 " 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.



The LearnEnglish Team

Timothy555 提交于 周二, 09/06/2020 - 16:45

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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Peter M. 提交于 周三, 10/06/2020 - 07:09

Timothy555 回复


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.



The LearnEnglish Team

MEGI MURRIZI 提交于 周六, 06/06/2020 - 09:11

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

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


The LearnEnglish Team

Timothy555 提交于 周六, 23/05/2020 - 09:21

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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Peter M. 提交于 周日, 24/05/2020 - 07:31

Timothy555 回复


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.



The LearnEnglish Team

lizaantonova 提交于 周五, 08/05/2020 - 13:05

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


The LearnEnglish Team

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Ahmed Imam 提交于 周日, 03/05/2020 - 19:46

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.

Ardalan 提交于 周五, 17/04/2020 - 15:49

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.



The LearnEnglish Team

Deviljin 提交于 周日, 12/04/2020 - 17:47

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.



The LearnEnglish Team

anie1 提交于 周日, 10/11/2019 - 07:10

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

Hello agie

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

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

anie1 提交于 周三, 06/11/2019 - 07:28

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

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


The LearnEnglish Team

anie1 提交于 周一, 04/11/2019 - 08:50

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

anie1 提交于 周日, 03/11/2019 - 12:18

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

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'.



The LearnEnglish Team

Cloudy Cloudy 提交于 周三, 30/10/2019 - 02:50

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


The LearnEnglish Team

Backlight 提交于 周日, 20/10/2019 - 07:31

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


The LearnEnglish Team

anie1 提交于 周四, 03/10/2019 - 09:05

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

anie1 提交于 周二, 01/10/2019 - 14:59

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

Hello agie,

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



The LearnEnglish Team

InmaLD 提交于 周一, 23/09/2019 - 19:53

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


The LearnEnglish Team

MissR 提交于 周四, 15/08/2019 - 21:11

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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Kirk 提交于 周一, 19/08/2019 - 20:17

MissR 回复


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


The LearnEnglish Team

Pabs Chile 提交于 周四, 01/08/2019 - 00:37

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


The LearnEnglish Team

Roman... 提交于 周一, 15/07/2019 - 22:28

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

anie1 提交于 周一, 20/05/2019 - 09:32

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
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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Ahmed Imam 提交于 周一, 01/04/2019 - 21:35

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

Goktug123 提交于 周六, 09/03/2019 - 17:48

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 ' 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.



The LearnEnglish Team