Adjectives and their order

Hi sweetie!

Now we will study the adjective order, that is, the order we should use the adjectives in a sentence.

Let’s review firstly the adjectives and then study the adjective order…


Adjectives

We use adjectives to describe nouns.

Most adjectives can be used in front of a noun:

  • They have a beautiful house.
  • We saw a very exciting film last night.

or after a link verb like be, look or feel:

  • Their house is beautiful.
  • That film looks interesting.

But there are situations which require more than one adjective to describe a noun.

Review your knowledge about adjectives with some exercises.


Order of adjectives

Whenever we use more than one adjective to describe a noun, we have to follow a specific order of placement, like in the following sentences:

  • He was a nice intelligent young man.
  • She had a small round black wooden box.

We often have two adjectives in front of a noun:

  • A handsome young man;
  • A big black car;
  • That horrible big dog.

Sometimes we have three adjectives, but this is unusual:

  • nice handsome young man;
  • big black American car;
  • That horrible big fierce dog.

It is very unusual to have more than three adjectives.

Some adjectives give a general opinion. We can use these adjectives to describe almost any noun:

good bad lovely  strange
beautiful nice brilliant excellent
awful important wonderful nasty

Some adjectives give a specific opinion. We only use these adjectives to describe particular kinds of noun:

  • Food: tasty; delicious;
  • Furniture, buildings: comfortable; uncomfortable;
  • People, animals: clever; intelligent; friendly.

We usually put a general opinion in front of a specific opinion:

  • Nice tasty soup.
  • A nasty uncomfortable armchair
  • A lovely intelligent animal

Usually we put an adjective that gives an opinion in front of an adjective that is descriptive:

  • nice red dress;
  • A silly old man;
  • Those horrible yellow curtains.

All together

Adjectives usually come in this order (GS3 ACNM):

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
General
Opinion
Specific
Opinion
Size  Shape Age  Color Nationality Material

The following picture picture also helps (notice it is a slightly different order):

5801151_orig
Adjective order.

Try some exercises to improve your knowledge about adjective order.


Adjectives after a link verb

We use some adjectives only after a link verb:

afraid alive alone asleep
content glad  ill ready
sorry sure unable well

Some of the commonest ed adjectives are normally used only after a link verb:

  • Annoyed;
  • Finished;
  • Bored;
  • Pleased;
  • Thrilled.

We say:

  • Our teacher was ill;
  • My uncle was very glad when he heard the news;
  • The policeman seemed to be very annoyed

but we do not say:

  • We had an ill teacher;
  • When he heard the news he was a very glad uncle;
  • He seemed to be a very annoyed policeman.

Some restrictions

A few adjectives are used only in front of a noun:

north
south
east
west
northern
southern
eastern
western
countless
occasional
lone
eventful
indoor
outdoor

We say:

  • He lives in the eastern district;
  • There were countless problems with the new machinery.

but we do not say:

  • The district he lives in is eastern
  • The problems with the new machinery were countless.

Beijo do pai!

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