Order of Adjectives in English – English Grammar
In this English Video Lesson on “Ordering adjectives” Alex is explaining the basic rules of forming adjectives sequences. It’s absolutely imperative for ESL students to memorize this very practical rule.
Adjectives are used when you want to assign a particular quality to a noun. There is actually a specific order for the adjectives if you want to use more than one adjective. Native speakers are unaware that this rule even exists, as they just use it in a natural way. For example, they would say “The big red bag” instead of “The red big bag” which sounds a little oft to native speakers. When you’ve learned this simple rule and use it, you are going to sound exactly like a native speaker.
So the rule for ordering adjectives is:
- Opinion (your opinion of a noun – for example: ugly, pretty or nice)
- Size (for example: small, big or large)
- Age (for example: ancient, old or new)
- Shape (for example: round, oval or square)
- Color (for example: red, green or yellow)
- Material (what is it made of, for example: steel, rubber or cotton)
- Origin (where is it from or where was it made, for example: china-made)
- Purpose (what is it used for, for example: physics teacher)
Just memorize this simple ordering rule and you shall never hesitate with the right sequence of adjectives when you would need to describe anything in conversation or in writing.
The large, red, Canadian plane.
(In this example “large” is the size, “red” is the color and “Canadian” is the origin of the plane).
Remember that this rule of ordering adjectives is simply a basic guideline.
The qualities that go the first and the second in the list could change their respective places, depending on what you really want to emphasize.
A big ugly car.
An ugly big car.
In the former case you are emphasizing the size of a car – the fact that it’s big.
In the latter case you are emphasizing the car’s appearance – that it’s ugly.