the world's premier FREE website for learners + teachers of English

Adjective Before Noun

We often use more than one adjective before the noun:

What is the correct order for two or more adjectives?

1. First of all, the general order is:

opinion, fact

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

2. The "normal" order for fact adjectives is

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

3. Determiners usually come first, even though some grammarians regard them as fact adjectives:

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

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
Not all grammarians agree about the exact order of adjectives, and the detailed rules are complicated. The rules on this page are for the normal, "natural" order of adjectives. These rules are not rigid, and you may sometimes wish to change the order for emphasis. 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?"