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A Quick Guide to Order of Adjectives with Examples

Published by at August 26th, 2021 , Revised On November 12, 2021

While the order of adjectives in a string of adjectives feels intuitive to native English speakers, non-native English speakers find it difficult and confusing.

In general, the order of adjectives in English is as follows:

  1. Quantity or number
  2. Characteristic, feature, or opinion
  3. Size
  4. Age
  5. Shape
  6. Colour
  7. Proper adjective (place of origin, nationality, or material)
  8. Purpose or qualifier

For example, we say “two annoying, big, fat, two-year-old, spotted hyenas”, and not “two big, spotted, fat, two-year-old, annoying hyenas.” Please stick to the correct order of adjectives unless you have a good reason to depart from it.

Order of Adjectives Examples

Determiner Quantity or number Characteristic or feature Size Age Shape Colour Proper adjective Purpose or qualifier Noun
Some slim new American trousers
Several disgusting little pink plastic rubbish bags
The four beautiful tall four-year-old hounds
A stunning large new white British sports car
An amazing small old round yellow Italian football

The adjectives fall outside the scope of the “article on Adverbials” (except for linking verb, where the “subject component” works as an adjective) because they are placed alongside nouns and generally do not change position in a sentence.

More Adjective Examples

1. Choose the best answer for each sentence.

  1. This car is ________
    1. Small and black
    2. black and small
    3. small black
  2. They reside in a _________ mansion
    1. Small and black
    2. black and small
    3. small black

Answer: a – Small and black b – large white

2. Identify the correct order of adjectives in one of the three sentences below?

  1. She took a ride on a yellow, new Japanese bus.
  2. She took a ride on a Japanese, new, yellow bus.
  3. She took a ride on a new, yellow Japanese bus.

Answer: c

3. Which sentence uses the correct order of adjectives?

  1. I want to know five good reasons why you hate football.
  2. I want to know good five reasons why you hate football.
  3. I want good reasons five why you hate football.

Answer: a

4. Which sentence uses the correct order of adjectives?

  1. I like that really big red old antique tractor in the museum.
  2. I like that really big old red antique tractor in the museum.
  3. I like that old, red, really big antique tractor in the museum.

Answer: b

5. Which sentence uses the correct order of adjectives?

  1. My brother rode a beautiful big black Friesian horse in the parade.
  2. My brother rode a beautiful Friesian big black horse in the parade.
  3. My brother rode a big, black, beautiful Friesian horse in the parade.

Answer: a

About Owen Ingram

Ingram is a dissertation specialist. He has a master's degree in data sciences. His research work aims to compare the various types of research methods used among academicians and researchers.