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11 examples of adjective word order

Adjectives are the words used to describe a noun (a person or thing), for example:

the red box, the quiet mouse, the big cat, the fast car


Quite often we want to use more than one adjective to describe a noun, for example:

the small red box

the quiet grey mouse

the big black cat

the fast silver car


When you have more than one adjective there is a particular order in which they should be listed, we wouldn't say:

the red small box

the grey quiet mouse

the black big cat

the silver fast car


So, what is that order?




Quantity several, few, some, one

Opinion beautiful, interesting, depressing, delicious

Size small, medium, large, microscopic

Age new, old, second-hand, ancient

Shape circular, square triangular, hexagonal

Colour red, yellow, green, blue

Origin / material European, wooden, metal, Australian

Qualifier cowboy boots, polo shirt, duffel bag, kitten heels

Noun book, house, car, tree



You don't have to use all of the adjective types each time you want to describe a noun. Choose the adjectives you want to use and remember which comes first.


Let's create some more descriptive sentences, building on those at the start of this post:

  • There were several interesting small red boxes lined up on the shelf.

  • The quiet old grey mouse was sitting in his cage.

  • The beautiful big black cat was looking out of the window.

  • The large brand-new silver Mercedes was racing down the street.


Check your knowledge of adjective word order using the following quiz:

Which of these sentences uses the correct word order:


The faded old leather-bound book is hidden at the back of the library.

Answer:


Several new wooden large houses are being build near the woods.

Answer:


The yellow second-hand reliant-robin car was in a TV show.

Answer:


One large old oak tree stands in the field.

Answer:


Some chocolate delicious cakes were served at the bake-sale.

Answer:


I bought a pair of new leather boots.

Answer:


Sarah works in an ornate Georgian-style old building.

Answer:


We collected several plastic small bottles on our walk.

Answer:


To make the cake we had to line a circular small tin with baking paper.

Answer:


The delicious circular cake was a big hit with the group.

Answer:


Many ancient detailed coins were discovered by archaeologists.

Answer:



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