Sometimes English has some weird rules. One of these we may not notice is the order of adjectives. Native speakers definitely don’t notice this order because they’re so used to hearing adjectives in a certain way, many don’t even know there is an order at all! When you are describing a noun, if the adjectives you use aren’t in this order, it will sound strange.
With a little practice, this order of adjectives will be easy and feel natural. Read on- it may surprise you to see such a precise list- with no exceptions! Whoo hoo!!!
Order of Adjectives
The order of adjectives is pretty logical, actually, when you look at it:
2) Quality or opinion
7) Proper adjective (often nationality, other place of origin, or material)
8) Purpose or qualifier
Words that determine how many, like a, some, or several go before all the adjectives in a sentence.
- He bought a small, red car.
Adverbs (such as “really” and “very”) come after these determiners, but before all the adjectives.
- The old, grey elephant was very nice.
- That’s a really old, ugly, dirty sweater.
Keep this order in mind and you’ll never go wrong!
Practice Exercises- Order of Adjectives
Why not try some for yourself? Here are some examples you can practice with:
1) We wanted ___________ (large/a/red) car.
2) Grandma always sat on ____________ (comfortable/old/a) bed.
3) I want ___________ (yellow/cotton/a/new) dress.
4) Romania has ___________ (a lot of/spooky/stone/old) castles.
5) She ate _________ (round/green/some/German) apples.
6) _________ (a few/handsome/young) men walked into the theatre.
7) He has __________ (blue/Dutch/a) bicycle.
8) We went on holiday to ______________ (a/wooden/cozy) cabin.
9) The _______________ (blue/old) plate broke.
10) The ___________ (smelly/French/yellow) cheese is delicious.
How do you think you did? Post your answers or questions about the order of adjectives in the comments below!
P.S. Here are the answers:
1) a large red
2) a comfortable, old
3) a new, yellow, cotton
4) a lot of old, spooky, stone
5) some round, green, German
6) A few young, handsome
7) a blue, Dutch
8) a cozy, wooden
9) old, blue
10) smelly, yellow, French
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Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher, yoga instructor, and couldn’t tell you the order of adjectives before looking it up herself- it just sounds right when it’s right and wrong when it’s wrong…and it will for you soon, too!