Adjective order

The order of adjectives

In English, we often use more than one adjective to describe a noun. When we use two or more adjectives, we generally put them in the following order:

Quantity or number: five, thirty, two thousand, one million, two trillion, five billion, first, twentieth, ninth

Opinion, attitudes, observations: beautiful, clean, elegant, fancy, handsome, interesting, magnificent, plain, tasty, ugly

  • General opinion usually comes before specific opinion.
    • General opinion can describe almost any noun.
      • A good dog. A good soup.
    • Specific opinion describes a specific noun.
      • A spicy soup and a friendly dog. We do not say a friendly soup and a spicy dog.
        • A good spicy soup and a good friendly dog.

Size, height: big, huge, large, small, tall, tiny

Temperature: cold, hot, warm, tepid, boiling, freezing

Age, new or old? antique, old, new, retro, young

Shape, weight, length: flat, long, oblong, round, square

Colour: blue, green, orange, pink, purple, red, reddish

Condition, state: clean, damp, dry, happy, hungry, rich, sad

Pattern: checkered, crisscross, flecked, flowered, flowery, linear, shapeless, spotted, striped

Origin: African, American, Belgian, British, Canadian, English, French, Indian, Italian, Irish, Moroccan, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Romanian, Welsh

Material: acrylic, aluminum, bamboo, bronze, cardboard, concrete, copper, gold, plastic, silver, steel, wood

Purpose: driving, flying, gardening, listening, riding, shopping, swimming, typing

Quantity / Opinion / Size / Temperature / Age / Shape / Color / Condition / Pattern / Origin / Material / Purpose


  • There are five beautiful antique lamps.
  • I enjoyed the freezing cold soup.
  • The huge green striped table-cloth is dirty.
  • The small French bamboo chair broke.
  • I like the checkered French table-cloth on the lovely clean table.
  • I need a large and sharp cutting knife to prepare the meal.
  • He always cleans his dirty gardening tools before putting them away.
  • Their Italian marble bathroom is beautiful.
  • The hungry children ate their delicious sandwiches.
  • There were two red Italian cars in the parking lot.

Adjectives are often placed in front of a noun. Some adjectives are placed after the verb TO BE and other link verbs.

  • The huge, green, striped table-cloth IS dirty.
    • The huge, green, striped table-cloth IS what? The huge, green, striped table IS dirty. Dirty is an adjective that describes the STATE of the table-cloth and is placed after the verb TO BE.

A link or linking verb is a verb that connects the subject of the verb to additional information that is needed to form a complete a sentence. How we use link verbs:

  • We cannot say: The delicious hot soup TASTES. The soup tastes WHAT? We need additional information: DELICIOUS.
    • The hot soup TASTES delicious. The adjective delicious is placed after the link verb TO TASTE.
  • We cannot say: The table-cloth IS. The table-cloth is WHAT? We need additional information: DIRTY
    • The table-cloth IS dirty. Dirty is placed after the link verb TO BE.
  • We cannot say: The old dirty table-cloth IS. The old table-cloth is WHAT? We need additional information: DIRTY
    • The old table-cloth IS dirty. Dirty is placed after the link verb TO BE.
  • We cannot say: The brown new book LOOKS. The book looks WHAT? We need additional information: NEW or BROWN?
    • The brown book LOOKS new. New is placed after the link verb TO LOOK.
    • The new book looks brown. Brown is placed after the link verb TO LOOK.
  • We cannot say: The Spanish easy quiz SEEMS. The quiz seems WHAT? We need additional information: EASY
    • The Spanish quiz SEEMS easy. Easy is placed after the link verb TO SEEM.

Other examples of link verbs: to act, to appear, to become, to feel, to get, to grow, to remain, to smell, to sound, to stay, to taste …

  • They are acting crazy.
  • He appeared confused.
  • We will become frustrated.
  • The blanket felt soft.
  • The children got excited.
  • It seemed dangerous.
  • We will remain silent.
  • The chewing gum smells fruity.
  • It sounds delightful.
  • The light stayed red.
  • The soup tastes good.

Tip: Some verbs can be link verbs AND action verbs.

  • I tasted the salad. (Action verb) The salad tasted delicious. (Link verb)

Tip: Be, Seem, Become are always link verbs.

  • The dog seems tired.
  • The dog is tired.
  • The dog became tired.
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