Adjectives Word Order

Adjectives add a little more colour to any language, but there is a certain word order you have to respect when you are using multiple adjectives to talk about the same noun. You could say, for example, that you have a big brown book. ‘Big’ and ‘brown’ are two adjectives and you need to put them in the correct order.

On this page, you have a detailed overview of the word order you need to respect when you are using more than one adjective to talk about the same noun and there are also some examples.

Adjectives word order

When you have multiple adjectives to talk about the same noun, there is a word order you need to respect:

  1. Quantity
  2. Opinion
  3. Size
  4. Age
  5. Form
  6. Colour
  7. Origin
  8. Material
  9. Purpose or goal

You put adjectives that express quantity before adjectives that express an opinion, for example.

Adjectives Word Order Taalhulp Engels

Adjectives about quantity

If you have multiple adjectives for the same noun, you put adjectives about quantity before all other adjectives. If the adjective is an answer to a question with ‘how much/many’, it’s usually an adjective about quantity.

Some examples that show adjectives about quantity need to be placed before other adjectives.

two yellow balls
five thin books
many self-driving cars

Adjectives that express an opinion

Adjectives that express an opinion are placed before adjectives of size. These adjectives are used to show what you think about something or someone. You could like something or find someone boring, for example.

two delicious apples
several funny stories
two boring books

Adjectives about size

Adjectives express size when they describe if something is big, small, thin, thick, or long. These adjectives need to be placed after adjectives of opinion.

a boring thin book
an ugly long branch
a delicious large pie

Adjectives about age

Adjectives about age are placed after adjectives about size. This is the traditional rule, but in some cases, it’s possible to put adjectives of age before adjectives of opinion. Adjectives that describe age can be about a specific age or a more general description such as old or young.

a thin old book
a big fresh pie
a small 16-year-old girl

According to the rules, you say:

an ugly old house

In daily conversations, a lot of people say:

an old ugly house

Adjectives about form

All adjectives that give more information about the form of something or someone are placed after adjectives of age. Adjectives of form can be specific or more general.

an old round ball
an old narrow mountain pass
a young fluffy dog

Adjectives that describe colour

If you want to describe the colour of a noun, you put this adjective after the adjectives mentioned above.

an old green bag
an ugly yellow sweater
a wide blue car

Adjectives about origin

These adjectives express the origin of something or someone. Usually, these words are about ethnicity or religion. They are placed after adjectives that describe colour.

a white Chinese vase
a yellow Egyptian map
a grey Christian church

Adjectives about the material something or someone is made of

These adjectives give more information about the material or fabric someone or something is made of. They are placed right after adjectives of origin.

an Egyptian silk rug
a Chinese wooden cupboard
a Christan stone church

Adjectives that describe the goal or purpose

This is a rather limited group of adjectives, but they do exist. These adjectives are put last; so right before the noun.

a new self-driving car
a red folding bike

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