Adjective Order

In English, it is common to use more than one adjective before a noun -- for example, "He's a silly young fool," or "she's a smart, energetic woman." When you use more than one adjective, you have to put them in the right order, according to type. This page will explain the different types of adjectives and the correct order for them.

The basic types of adjectives

An opinion adjective explains what you think about something (other people may not agree with you). Examples:
silly, beautiful, horrible, difficult
A size adjective, of course, tells you how big or small something is. Examples:
large, tiny, enormous, little
An age adjective tells you how young or old something or someone is. Examples:
ancient, new, young, old
A shape adjective describes the shape of something. Examples:
square, round, flat, rectangular
A colour adjective, of course, describes the colour of something. Examples:
blue, pink, reddish, grey
An origin adjective describes where something comes from. Examples:
French, lunar, American, eastern, Greek
A material adjective describes what something is made from. Examples:
wooden, metal, cotton, paper
A purpose adjective describes what something is used for. These adjectives often end with "-ing". Examples:
sleeping (as in "sleeping bag"), roasting (as in "roasting tin")

Some examples of adjective order

a silly young English man
a huge round metal bowl
a small red sleeping bag

Position of Adjectives in a sentence

front-position   In 20 years the number of youths arrested for murder has doubled.
end-position   The number of youths arrested for murder has doubled in 20 years.
mid-position   Older People are extremely worried about the high crime rate.


1 The order of more than one adjective in a sentences is:
manner (Art und Weise) - place - time
The PM spoke well in the House of Commons this morning.
2 Adverbial phrases of place follow immediately verbs of movement. He drove to the station in a taxi.
3 If there is more than one time reference we usually progress from the particular to the general. He was born at six o'clock / on Christmas day / in 1867.
4 Adverbs of indefinite time (already, just, now, soon, still, then, ...) generally precede the full verb. I have already spoken to him.
5 Adverbs of indefinite frequency (always, frequently, generally, hardly, ever, never, occasionally, often, rarely, seldom, sometimes, usually, ...) generally precede the full verb. When she was still at school Sandra often worked on Saturdays.
6 To put special emphasis on certain facts adverbs of indefinite time or indefinite frequency can also be put at the beginning of a sentence.

Sandra usually worked on Saturdays.
(normal position)

Sometimes Sandra worked on Fridays, too.