How to Use Adjectives in the Right Order

Posted on March 15, 2016

By Emily Stallard

 

Did you know there is a particular order for adjectives in English? Using adjectives in the right order can be tricky. It sounds rather unnatural to say “my client is a Swedish, 40 year old tall man” because the adjectives are in the wrong order. The good news for people learning English is that it’s rare to have more than about three adjectives in one sequence.

While there are certainly exceptions to what you can say, the following is a good guide to adjective order:

 

1. General Opinion
Nice, great, terrible

2. Specific Opinion

Thought-provoking, intriguing, reliable

3. Size
500 metre, tall, medium

4. Shape
Angular, flat, circular

5. Age

Up-to-date, new, 10 year old

6. Colour
Cream, navy, silver

7. Nationality
British, Swedish, French

8. Material
Steel, acrylic, glass

 

So with these adjectives in the right order you can make:

 

  • An angular steel component
  • An up to date, cream office chair
  • A reliable French car

 

In the example given in the introduction, you can see the description should be “my client is a tall, 40 year old Swedish man”.

 

Feeling confident you know how to use adjectives in the right order? Try this English Club quiz and see how you get on!

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