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?

adjective word 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

  1. Opinion         –  beautiful, expensive, nice, delicious, extravagant, silly, …
  2. Size                  –  big, little, fat, skinny, tall, short, large, tiny, thick, thin, …
  3. Age                  –  young, old, new, middle-aged, …
  4. Color               – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, black, white,…
  5. Nationality    – American, Chinese, German, Afghani, Australian, …
  6. Material          – wooden, metal, plastic, glass, crystal,
  7. 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

——-ANSWERS———-

  • 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:

learnenglishfeelgood

tolearnenglish

BritishCouncil.org

http://web2.uvcs.uvic.ca/elc/studyzone/410/grammar/adjord1.htm

http://www.usingenglish.com/quizzes/139.html

https://www.englishclub.com/grammar/adjectives-order_quiz.htm

http://perso.wanadoo.es/autoenglish/gr.adwo.p.htm

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