Adjectives order before nouns

August 18, 2011pdf

When several adjectives are used to modify a noun, they have to be put in a particular order. Here are some important rules for adjective order.

Adjectives of color usually go before adjectives of origin, material and purpose.

  • A brown Spanish leather bag (NOT A Spanish brown leather bag) (NOT A leather Spanish brown bag)

The adjectives of size, length and height usually go before other adjectives.

  • A round wooden table (NOT A wooden round table)
  • A tall, ancient oak-tree (NOT An ancient, tall oak-tree)

Adjectives which express judgment usually come before all others. Examples are: lovely, definite, pure, absolute, perfect, wonderful, silly etc.

  • A lovely, long, refreshing drink

Numbers usually go before adjectives

  • Six brown chairs (NOT Brown six chairs)
  • Ten large eggs (NOT Large ten eggs)

The words first, next and last most often go before one, two, three etc

  • The first two attempts (NOT The two first attempts)

Commas

When more than one adjective is used to modify a noun, we generally separate the adjectives with commas.

  • An expensive, wasteful, thoughtless project

Commas can be dropped between short adjectives.

  • A tall, fair, pretty girl (OR A tall fair pretty girl)
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