Adjective word order matters. When using more than one adjective to describe the same object, there are rules for which adjectives come first, second, third, etc. So, if you want to talk about a car that you just bought – and you want to say that it is German, expensive and gray – how do you form a sentence that is correct and easy to understand?
I just bought an expensive, gray, German car.
Look at the picture below. Think about how to describe the day, the girl’s helmet, and her dress. Which adjectives would you use? In what order?
- It was a warm, summer day.
- The girl has a new, red and black, plastic helmet.
- She is wearing a beautiful, dark blue, cotton dress.
For native English speakers, the correct word order happens naturally. For everyone else, think about the what the adjective describes. In doing so, you will be able to use the correct word order.
Normal Word Order of Adjectives
- Opinion – beautiful, expensive, nice, delicious, extravagant, silly, …
- Size – big, little, fat, skinny, tall, short, large, tiny, thick, thin, …
- Age – young, old, new, middle-aged, …
- Color – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, black, white,…
- Nationality – American, Chinese, German, Afghani, Australian, …
- Material – wooden, metal, plastic, glass, crystal,
- Final Distinguishing Modifier / Type (for comparisons)
Try these exercises to see if you know the order to use for the adjectives:
- a ___________________________________ sky blue, bright, summer
- his _________________________________ door yellow, front, metal
- the _________________________________ job boring, technical
- some _______________________________ cats black, skinny, Persian
- a pair of ___________________________ shoes leather, brown, brand-new
- a dozen ____________________________ eggs brown, fresh, delicious
- a bright, blue, summer sky
- his yellow, metal, front door
- the boring technical job
- some skinny, black, Persian cats
- a pair of brand-new, brown, leather shoes
- a dozen delicious, fresh, brown eggs
With some practice, it will start to be natural for you, too!
For More Practice: