English adjectives order


In Japanese, even if you replace the adjectives such as "beautiful red flower" with "red beautiful flower", it doesn't feel so strange. However, in English, when arranging multiple adjectives, the native feels uncomfortable if the order does not follow the rules.

In other words, there is an "order" of arrangement in English adjectives. Of course, it is not an absolute rule, but it is more natural to arrange them in order.

In this article, we will thoroughly explain the order in which English adjectives are arranged and how to easily remember them!

Table of contents
  • What is an "adjective" in the first place?
  • What is the order of English adjectives?
  • How to remember the simple order?
  • Summary

What is an "adjective" in the first place?

Before looking at the order in which they are arranged, let's briefly review the workings of adjectives.

Differences from adverbs

Adjectives and adverbs are often confused because they are similar in shape.

Adjective ⇒ Adverb
nice ⇒ nicely ⇒ nicely
sad ⇒ sadly
beautiful ⇒ beautifully beautifully

As you can see, both shapes are similar, but the objects to be modified are completely different. Modification is to limit or explain the target part of speech by expressing the nature, state, degree, etc.

Adjectives: Modify
nouns Adverbs: Modify non-nouns (verbs, adjectives, adverbs, whole sentences, etc.)

She is a beautiful dancer. She is a beautiful dancer. She is a beautiful
dancer .

In the first sentence, the adjective "beautiful" modifies the noun "dancer", and in the second sentence, the adverb "beautifully" modifies the verb "dances".

Common endings for adjectives

To better understand the adjectives, here are some common flexions. Remember, knowing the flexion makes it easier to find adjectives.

-able comfortable, available, usable, capable
-al real, potential, royal, legal
-ent fluent, excellent, absent, different
-ant important, significant, vacant, pregnant
-ful grateful, powerful, useful, successful
-ive active, creative, negative, sensitive
-less careless, cashless, cordless, topless
-ous serious, famous, varied, suspicious

Limited usage that modifies nouns and descriptive usage that acts as a complement

There are two types of adjectives: "attributive use" that modifies a specific noun and "predicative use" that acts as a complement.

Limited usage

The biggest feature of the limited usage is that it "modifies only a specific noun " and does not involve other words.

He is a kind person.

I want to watch an interesting movie.

We saw some cute puppies. (We saw some cute puppies.)

In the above sentence, the adjectives "kind", "interesting" and "cute" modify the nouns "person", "movie" and "puppies". Limited usage is to limit nouns and use adjectives in this way. In limited usage, the sentence is meaningful even without these adjectives.

He is a person.

I want to watch a movie.

We saw some puppies. (We saw some puppies.)

Narrative usage

The characteristic of descriptive usage is that adjectives "play the role of complement", which is an element of sentence composition. In limited usage, it doesn't play the role of a complement, so it's a big difference.

The sentence structure is a sentence pattern classified according to how the elements of subject (S), predicate (V), object (O), and complement (C) are arranged, and there are 1st sentence pattern to 5th sentence pattern. ..

1st sentence pattern: SV
2nd sentence pattern: SVC
3rd sentence pattern: SVO
4th sentence pattern: SVOO
5th sentence pattern: SVOC

Adjectives are used as complements in the second and fifth sentence patterns to modify nouns with the help of verbs.

2nd sentence pattern

I got angry. (I got angry.)

5 sentence patterns

He made me angry. (He made me angry.)

In the above example, the adjective "angry" describes the noun "I" in the second sentence pattern and the noun "me" in the fifth sentence pattern. Also, in descriptive usage, the meaning of a sentence does not hold except for adjectives.

What is the order of English adjectives?

So far, we've only used one adjective, but in what order should we use multiple adjectives?

There are certain rules for the order, but as already mentioned, it is not an absolute rule. Therefore, even if it violates the rules, the adjective you want to emphasize may be put first. Here, let's look at the order of common adjectives that become natural English.

The order in which the adjectives are arranged

In English, when modifying a noun, the adjective is placed before the noun, as shown in the limited usage. Below is the order in which the adjectives are arranged. Shown in descending order of priority.

1. 1. Opinion (opinion / evaluation)
2. Size (size / length)
3. Age (year)
4. Shape
5. Color
6. Origin
7. Material
8. Purpose

Let's see what adjectives are included in each.

Opinion (opinion / evaluation)

It expresses subjective feelings such as opinions and evaluations.

lovely, difficult, delicious, terrible, friendly, cool

Size (size / length)

A size indicator such as "large / small" or "high / low".

big, large, small, little, tall, short, huge, tiny

By the way, big is used for shape, quantity, scale, etc., large is used for shape, area, capacity, etc., and small is used when the size is objectively small. Since little includes the meaning of "small and cute", the expression "a small cat" simply means that the size of the cat is small, and the expression "a little cat" means "small and cute cat". It makes sense.


It represents the number of years such as "new/old" and "young/old". It also includes words such as "hot / cold" and "hot/cold".

new (new), old (old / old), young (young), hot (hot / hot), cold (cold / cold), 30 years old (age)


In addition to words that express contours such as "round/square", those that express shapes such as "flat/pointed" are also included.

round, square, triangular, rectangular, oval, sharp, thin, thick


It represents "color", "shade", "brightness", etc.

red, blue, dark, pale, bright, vivid


It represents "origin" or "origin". In addition to nationality and race, it also includes words that describe areas such as "Western / Eastern / Asia".

American (American / American), Asian (Asian / Asian), European (European / European), Western (Western), oriental (Oriental / Oriental)


The noun to be modified represents the material "what was it made of?".

wooden, glass, metallic, cotton, paper, brick


The noun to be modified expresses the purpose of "what is used". It is represented by "noun + noun" such as "tennis ball", or by "gerund (-ing)" such as "driving career".

wedding (for wedding), running (for running), shopping (for shopping), cleaning (for cleaning), cooking (for cooking)

Articles and quantities are required before adjectives

The order in which the adjectives are arranged is shown, but the "article" and "Number" including the demonstratives and pronouns are required before the adjectives.

Articles are a and the used with nouns. Demonstratives here are words such as this and these that represent "this" and "that", and pronouns are possessive cases such as my and their.

Articles: a / an / the / that / those / your / our
quantity (Number): three / six / ten / some

Let's check with an example!

Now, let's check with some examples based on the order of articles, quantities, and adjectives. The example shown in ☓ is an example of an error in which adjectives are arranged in Japanese order. Please note that it may be unnatural if arranged according to Japanese.

Japanese delicious meat:
○ delicious Japanese meat: Opinion → Origin → Noun
☓ Japanese delicious meat: Origin → Opinion → Noun

Beautiful Italian old city:
○ a beautiful old Italian city
Article → Beautiful (Opinion) → Old (Age) → Italy (Origin) → City (noun)
☓ a beautiful Italian old city

This round old wooden table:
○ this old round wooden table
This (demonstrative) → old (Age) → round (Shape) → wooden (Material) → table (noun)
☓ this round old wooden table

My big black convenient shopping bag:
○ my useful big black shopping bag
My (synonymous) → Convenient (Opinion) → Large (Size) → Black (Color) → Shopping (Purpose) → Bag (Nomenclature)
☓ my big black useful shopping bag

Three young and tall basketball players:
○ three tall young basketball players
(quantity) → tall (Size) → young (Age) → basketball (purpose) → player (noun)
☓ young tall three basketball players

How to remember the simple order?

Even if you can understand the order of adjectives, you cannot master them unless you remember the order. Here's an easy way to remember the order.

It's super easy if you remember it by punting

Do you remember the articles / quantities and eight adjectives shown so far in English? Arranging these in order of priority is as follows.

Article (Article)
Number (Quantity)
Opinion (Opinion / Evaluation)
Size (Size / Length)
Age (Year)
Shape (Shape)
Color (Color)
Origin (Origin / Origin)
Material (Material)
Purpose (Purpose)

You can easily remember each acronym by arranging them and punting them as follows.


This pun doesn't make sense, but if you learn cryptic words, you won't have any trouble if you get lost.

Two O are distinguished by "subjective → objective"

Except for "AN" in "AN OSAS COMP", which is a pun, it refers to adjectives, but only the first Opinion is a "subjective word" that expresses opinions and evaluations. And the second (Size) to the eighth (Purpose) are all "objective words" that express facts. In other words, the order in which adjectives are arranged is basically "subjective → objective".

There are two O's in the pun "AN OSAS COMP", so you may not know which one, but if you know that the order of adjectives is "subjective → objective", you can easily say two O's (Opinion). Origin) can be distinguished.

Two S are distinguished by "size → shape"

In addition to O, there are two S (Size and Shape) in the pun "AN OSAS COMP". If you remember the rule of "size → shape" where size is prioritized over shape for these two S's, you will not be confused.