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What is the right order for adjectives?

Frequently Asked Questions about English

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What is the right order for adjectives?

Postby EC » Sat Sep 18, 2004 11:10 pm

When we use several adjectives they must follow a sequence. For example, we say "small, blue, canvas bag", but we don't say "blue, canvas, small bag". But I'm confused because, according to one CD-ROM, adjectives that describe shape come after adjectives that describe age, and, according to one book, age comes after shape. What is the correct order for adjectives please?

First of all, the general sequence is: opinion, fact. So we say "a nice French car" and we do not say "a French nice car".

Secondly, the normal (natural) order for the fact adjectives is: size, age, shape, colour, material, origin. For example: "a big, old, square, black, wooden Chinese table".

So an example with opinion and fact adjectives would be:

Two beautiful small old round yellow wax Thai candles.

However, note that rules are not always rigid. Sometimes we have to use common sense. In the last example we have just broken the rule because the word "two" is a number and numbers are adjectives and very definitely "fact".

Also, consider the following conversations:

Conversation 1
A "I want to buy a round table."
B "Do you want a new round table or an old round table?"

Conversation 2
A "I want to buy an old table".
B "Do you want a round old table or a square old table?"
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