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The Order of Adjectives

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Adjectives are words which give us more information about people, places and things.

Types of adjectives

size: a big house, a fat man, a short skirt, small feet, a tall building
colour: a blue car, a white dove, a pink dress, brown shoes, red apples
quality: a sunny day, a deep ocean, a handsome man, a hot summer, a bumpy road
material: a silk dress, a porcelain vase, a wooden table, a glass door, a plastic bag
place/origin: an Italian car, Swiss chocolate, a Buddhist temple, the Australian flag, a Persian carpet

The order of adjectives

When we use two or more adjectives to describe a noun or pronoun, the usual order is:
size, quality, colour, origin, material. Here are some examples:
a little black dress (size, colour)
an old Chinese silk scarf (quality, origin, material)
crunchy green apples (quality, colour)

Adjectives of quality

Adjectives of quality sometimes come before adjectives of size. Example:
beautiful long hair ( quality, size)

Adjectives of size

But, adjectives of size always come before adjectives of colour. Example:
beautiful long brown hair (quality, size, colour)

Lesson by Nasreen, teacher at EC Cape Town

Complete the sentences with the adjectives in brackets, putting them in the correct order where needed:

  • 1.New York is a ___ city with many busy streets.

  • 2. There are several ___ buildings in my country.

  • 3. Mr Mathews wore a ___ suit and glasses with ___ frames.

  • 4. Tourists enjoy taking pictures of the ___ birds.

  • 5. Cora bought a ___ lantern.

  • 6. Jim drives an ___ car.

  • 7. We sat on the ___ grass admiring the magnificent view.

  • 8. Andrew is a ___ man who enjoys eating ___ food.

  • 9. Our neighbours have a ___ dog with ___ teeth.

  • 10. Mrs Mason is a ___ lady whose garden is full of ___ roses.