Order of Adjectives in English

Learn how to order adjectives to describe your experiences in clear detail.

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By Angela Martinez · April 10, 2024 · 9 minute read

Using the correct order of adjectives in English is key to describing your experiences and feelings. Do you remember the first day at your job? Were you excited? Nervous? Curious? Maybe you felt all of these emotions combined.

When we want to tell others about our experiences or people and things we’ve met and seen, using adjectives can help us bring those ideas or images to life. Did you know, however, that when you use more than one adjective to describe a noun, there’s a correct order of adjectives in English?

Whether your new boss was tall and serious, or your colleagues were helpful and loud, you can use adjective order to sound more natural in English when describing them. After reading this article, you’ll know the adjective order rules so you can feel more confident when speaking.

Become a master with order of adjectives in English

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Dive into the Busuu experience and unlock hundreds of free online interactive lessons that will help you become an expert and learn that adjectives follow a specific order: and the phrase “the most fun follows a natural order of adjectives, with "most" (indicating degree) preceding "fun" (quality or opinion).

Adjective order with more than one adjective

Like many other languages (maybe yours too), the basic sentence in English consists of a subject and a verb, usually in that order.

Birds fly. People sleep. Boats float.

Who does the action in each sentence?

Birds. People. Boats.

What actions do they do?

Fly. Sleep, Float.

So far, so good?

This might sound simple (and it is!), but once you start adding other parts of speech like adjectives, it can get a little complicated. (Need to review parts of speech? Learn more about parts of speech in English with our dedicated article on the topic.)

We love telling others about our experiences, sharing our opinions and discussing important events. Adjectives come in handy when we want to paint a picture with our words. And remember that in English, the adjective typically goes in front of the noun.

White birds fly.

Tired people sleep.

Heavy boats float.

Can you see the picture more clearly?

And the more details you want to give about the thing you’re describing, the more adjectives you’ll want to use.

The white heavy boat floats. Or is it the heavy white boat floats?

Don’t worry. No matter what you say, you'll be understood. There is, however, a correct order of adjectives in English that will make your sentence sound better.

How to order adjectives depending on the type of adjective

Using the correct order of adjectives starts with breaking down adjectives by type.

For instance, some adjectives describe personality:

friendly nerdy funny

Others can describe how a person looks:

short handsome brunette

Then there are adjectives that tell us about a person’s character:

gutsy careful studious

It’s the same for objects. You can describe an object’s material, color, size and so on.

To put adjectives in order in English when you have more than one adjective, you should first think about what aspect of the person or thing the adjective describes.

Which adjective comes first?

Once you understand the type of adjective you’re using to describe a person or thing, you can use the following order of adjectives chart to help you put the adjectives in the correct order when speaking.

English order of adjectives chart

Position Type of adjective Examples
First an opinion expensive, delicious
Second size short, large
Third a physical attribute or texture unorganized, crunchy
Fourth shape rectangular, round
Fifth age description young, old
Sixth color yellow, purple
Seventh origin British, Japanese
Eight material cotton, plastic
Ninth type four-legged, multiuse
Tenth use or purpose cleaning, educational

Want to practice using order of adjectives in English?

order-of-adjectives busuu

Continue putting adjectives in the correct order via Busuu’s free online courses, and learn that we usually put the age ("new") before the color ("pink") and material ("chiffon"), like in the example above.

Let’s go back to our previous example:

Boats float.

I want to say that boats that are large and made of steel float. I can say, “Large steel boats float.”

Try it out for yourself. Combine the following sentences into one sentence by putting the adjectives in the correct order:

  • Tables cost money.
  • These tables are made of glass.
  • They are also round.

Answer: Round glass tables cost money.

Great job!

Note: When you use the adjective order chart above, the adjectives at the bottom of the chart will be closer to the noun than the adjectives at the top of the chart).

Like most language rules, an adjective will not always fit perfectly into one category or another, and you can categorize adjectives in multiple ways. However, since you’re probably not going to use more than two or three adjectives to describe a noun, it will be easy to figure out what comes first, second, and third based on the order of adjectives chart above.

Remember to add articles if a sentence needs them! Articles help us know if the subject or noun we are talking about is a specific item or a general item. You can see this in the examples below:

  • a table (general)
  • the table (specific)

Adjectives come between the article and the noun, as in the following examples:

  • The round glass table costs money.
  • A round glass table costs money.

The same applies to quantifiers like many, few and some as well as numbers.

  • Twelve round glass tables cost money.
  • Few round glass tables will cost so much money!

For more examples and clear information about English articles, check out our detailed guide on using articles in English.)

Rules for adjective order when writing in English

You’ve learned the basics of the order of adjectives in English, but there is an additional rule to keep in mind when writing in English – use commas when necessary to separate adjectives.

When writing in English, commas are important to bring your message across. When using multiple adjectives in your emails or other kinds of writing, there are times when you’ll want to use commas between adjectives and other times when you shouldn’t.

Whether you need commas or not depends on how the adjectives in front of your noun are working together.

Cumulative adjectives

Do your adjectives work together to build a bigger picture of what you’re describing? Then you have cumulative adjectives. That means that each adjective may not fully describe the noun by itself. They work together to paint a better picture.

Here’s an example: The tall blonde woman ordered hot chocolate.

In this case, the two adjectives, tall and blonde, work together to describe the woman and paint a clearer picture of the woman’s appearance.

You’ll notice that you don’t need to add a comma between cumulative adjectives.

How can you double-check if two or more adjectives are cumulative? If the adjectives fit in different categories on the order of adjectives chart from earlier in this article, then you have cumulative adjectives. Since tall fits into the size category and blonde is a color, they are from different categories and therefore cumulative adjectives.

Coordinate adjectives

If you’re highlighting similar aspects of the noun, you will need to add a comma to separate the adjectives from each other.

The cheerful, enigmatic footballer retired this year.

Cheerful and enigmatic are coordinate adjectives. That means they work together as equals to paint the picture – they’re describing similar aspects of the noun. You can just as easily say the enigmatic, cheerful footballer. You can also say the cheerful and enigmatic footballer, and it will still sound good.

If you’re having a bit of trouble knowing if two adjectives are cumulative or coordinate, you can just use this simple rule:

If the adjectives come from the same category on the order of adjectives chart, you’ll want to add a comma.

The tall, large window brought good light into the dim, unorganized room. (In this example, tall and large describe size, while dim and unorganized give your opinion of the room.)

If the adjectives are from different categories, then you don’t generally need a comma.

The white Egyptian cotton sheets are sold out. (White describes color, Egyptian origin, and _cotton _material.)

As you continue to improve your English and interact with native speakers, knowing the order of adjectives will become easier, and you won’t even need a chart!

Simple order of adjective rules to describe your experiences with confidence

Using the correct order of adjectives will help you sound more natural in English.

Remember – if you’re using more than one adjective to describe something, figure out what the adjective describes (opinion, size, origin, and so on), and use the chart above to put them in the correct order in front of the noun you’re describing.

When writing in English, determine whether the adjectives are cumulative or coordinate adjectives, and use a comma to separate the coordinate adjectives.

Whether you’re talking about your colleagues or the most beautiful beaches in your country, adjectives can help you bring your ideas and experiences to life in clearer detail. And with practice, you’ll be able to put them in the right order every time, making your speech sound natural and clear.

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