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Adjective Order

There are 2 basic positions for adjectives:

  1. beforethe noun
  2. aftersome verbs (be, become, get, seem, look, feel, sound, smell, taste)
1 I have a big dog.    
2     Snow is white.

Adjective Before Noun

We often use more than one adjective before the noun:

  • I like big black dogs.
  • She was wearing a beautiful long red dress.

What is the correct order for two or more adjectives?

  1. First of all, the general order is:


"Opinion" is what you think about something. "Fact" is what is definitely true about something.

  • a lovely new dress (not a new lovely dress)
  • a boring French film (not a French boring film)
  1. The "normal" order for fact adjectivesis

size, shape, age, colour / origin / material / purpose

  • a small 18th-century French coffee table
  • a rectangular black wooden box
  1. Determinersusually come first, even though some grammarians regard them as fact adjectives:
  • articles (a, the)
  • possessives (my, your...)
  • demonstratives (this, that...)
  • quantifiers (some, any, few, many...)
  • numbers (one, two, three)

Note that when we want to use two colour adjectives, we join them with "and":

  • Many newspapers are black and white.
  • She was wearing a long, blue and yellow dress.

Here are some examples of adjective order:

  adjectives head noun
determiner opinion adjectives fact adjectives
other size, shape, age, colour origin material purpose*
two ugly   black     guard dogs
a   well-known   Chinese     artist
a     small, 18th-century French   coffee table
your fabulous   new     sports car
a lovely   pink and green Thai silk   dress
some     black Spanish leather riding boots
a     big black and white       dog
this   cheap     plastic rain coat
an     old   wooden fishing boat
my     new     tennis racket
a wonderful   15th-century Arabic     poem

*often a noun used as an adjective

Adjective After Verb

An adjective can come after some verbs, such as: be, become, feel, get, look, seem, smell, sound

Even when an adjective comes after the verb and not before a noun, it always refers to and qualifies the subject of the clause, not the verb.

Look at the examples below: subject verb adjective

  • Ram is English.
  • Because she had to wait, she became impatient.
  • Is it getting dark?
  • The examination did not seem difficult.
  • Your friend looks nice.
  • This towel feels damp.
  • That new film doesn't sound very interesting.
  • Dinner smells good tonight.
  • This milk tastes sour.
  • It smells bad.

These verbs are "stative" verbs, which express a state or change of state, not "dynamic" verbs which express an action. Note that some verbs can be stative in one sense (she looks beautiful | it got hot), and dynamic in another (she looked at him | he got the money). The above examples do not include all stative verbs.

Note also that in the above structure (subject verb adjective), the adjective can qualify a pronoun since the subject may be a pronoun.