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Learn English > English lessons and exercises > English test #117299: Order of Adjectives
Order of Adjectives
Adjectives are words used to describe nouns (nouns are names of people, animals, places, things and ideas).
Adjectives sometimes appear after the verb To Be: He is SHORT, Mary is TALL.
Adjectives sometimes appear before a noun: RED car, OLD hat.BUT...
Sometimes you want to use more than one adjective to describe something (or someone).
What happens if a hat is both OLD and UGLY? Do we say... an ugly old hat OR an old ugly hat? An ugly old hat is correct because a certain order for adjectives is expected.
In general, the correct order of adjectives in English is (1) Determiner (2) Opinion (3) Size (4) Shape (5) Condition (6) Age (7) Colour (8) Pattern (9) Origin (10) Material (11) Purpose
Of course it is rare to use more than 2 or 3 adjectives to describe a noun. But the adjectives you do use should follow this order:Let's look at each type of adjective in more detail (with examples)..
Determiner - Before the adjectives, we normally have a determiner. The determiner tells us if the noun is singular or plural, definite or indefinite.E.g: a, an, the, my, your, four, those, some.And then we have the adjectives that refer to...
Opinion- Explains what we think about something. These adjectives almost always come before all other adjectives.E.g: beautiful, boring, stupid, delicious, useful, comfortable
Size - Tells us how big or small something is.E.g:big, small, tall, huge, tiny
Shape - Tells about the shape of something or how long or short it is. It can also refer to the weight of someone or something.E.g: round, square, circular, skinny, fat, heavy, straight, long, short
Condition - Tells us the general state of something.E.g: broken, cold, hot, wet, hungry, rich, easy, difficult, dirty
Age - Tells us how old someone or something is.E.g: old, young, new, ancient, 2-week, 15-year-old
Colour - The colour or approximate colour of something.E.g: green, white, blue, reddish, purple
Pattern - The design of something.E.g: striped, spotted, checked, flowery
Origin - Tells us where something or someone is from.E.g: American, British, Italian, eastern, Australian, Chilean
Material - What is the thing made of?E.g: gold, wooden, silk, paper, synthetic, cotton, woollen
Purpose - What is it used for? These adjectives often end in '-ing'.E.g: sleeping (bag), gardening (gloves), shopping (bag), wedding (dress)If you look at the examples above, you can ask... what are the gloves used for? (gardening), what is the bag used for? (shopping).And after these adjectives, we have the...
Noun - The person or thing that is being described.
How to know the correct order of adjectives; although studying the order of adjectives in English can help, there reaches a point where you'll know them best by just seeing and hearing them in action.
Most native English speakers don't know the rules of ordering adjectives at all - we just know that it 'sounds right' to say "the big red ball" and 'sounds wrong' to say "the red big ball."
As you read and listen to more English, you'll eventually begin to order the adjectives naturally.
But for now, you can try this quiz to practise!
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