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  ENGLISH GRAMMAR for ESL learners  


Adjective order in English


ADJECTIVE ORDER

When using more than one adjective in English, the adjectives should be placed in the correct order.
The general sequence is as shown below, although the order is not totally fixed.
  • Determiner - Opinion - Size - Age - Shape - Colour - Origin - Material, followed by the noun.
  • Determiners are words such as 'a', 'an', 'this', 'that', 'one', 'two', 'my', 'your', 'some', 'many' ...
    Examples:
    - a famous old building
    - an enormous American ship
    - that troublesome little boy

  • The adjective denoting purpose or use comes directly before the noun:
    - coctail dress, sailing boat, washing machine, wedding ring etc.
It is very unusual to have more than three, or perhaps four, adjectives in an English sentence, so the following example containing seven adjectives would be highly unlikely ... but possible!

- a horrible little old square pink English cotton cushion.

Determiner ADJECTIVES NOUN
Opinion Size Age Shape Colour Origin Material
A horrible little old square pink English cotton cushion

The following combinations would be more usual:

  • A gorgeous new French coctail dress
  • A charming old coffee shop
  • A small blue Spanish fishing boat
  • A dirty old brown leather bag
  • An elegant striped linen jacket
  • A beautiful red Italian racing car
  • A lovely old gold wedding ring
  • Two large cracked glass bowls
  • That ugly old derelict building
  • A ravishing black silk dress

Use of commas between adjectives

The use of commas is optional when there are two or more adjectives in a sentence.
- "A long, dark road" or "A long dark road" are both acceptable.

Using 'and' between adjectives

'And' is used to separate two or more colour adjectives:
- She owns a black and white cat.
- The flag has yellow and blue stripes on a white background.


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Please note that British English spelling is used on this website.

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