Position of adjectives

April 29, 2012pdf

Adjectives usually go before the nouns they modify.

  • She is a nice girl. (Here the adjective nice modifies the noun girl and goes before it.)
  • He is an intelligent boy.
  • That was a clever idea.

When two or more adjectives come before a noun, they are usually separated by commas.

  • A large, round table
  • A short, fair, pretty girl

Note that we do not put a comma after the last adjective in the series.

When the last two are adjectives of color, they are usually separated by and.

  • A black and white cow (NOT black white cow)
  • Red and blue socks

When two or more adjectives come in the predicative position, we use and between the last two.

  • It was hot and sultry.
  • The boy was handsome, smart and polite.
  • The clouds looked white and fluffy.

Sometimes we put an adjective after the noun for the sake of emphasis.

  • There lived an old man strong and wicked. (More emphatic than ‘There lived a strong and wicked old man.’)

In phrases such as those given below, the adjective always comes after the noun.

  • Time-immemorial
  • Heir-apparent
  • God Almighty
  • President elect

In lines of poetry, too, the adjective is sometimes put after the noun.

  • O men with sisters dear! (Instead of ‘O men with dear sisters’)
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