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Grammar 13 - Order of Adjectives 1
"Ayesha long, straight, black hair has." - Is this sentence ordered correctly?

Grammar 13 - Order of Adjectives 1

How simple it would be if we had a rule that only one adjective should be used to qualify a noun! Alas, it is not so. Many times we use more than one adjective to describe something. We get stumped when we start using multiple adjectives, wondering in what order they should be used. Take a look at this sentence:

‘The waiter served the food on a metal, round, big tray.’ It sound wrong doesn't it? The sentence would read much better like this:

’The waiter served the food on a big, round, metal tray.’

Is the order of adjectives appropriate in this next sentence:

’The waiter served the food on a big, round, metal, serving tray’? Yes! It seems so. Similarly, the sentence:

‘Cricket, old, red ball’ does not sound right but ‘Old, red, cricket ball’ does.

The order of adjectives depends on their function. In the tray example the adjective 'big' signifies size, 'round' tells about the shape, 'metal' talks about the material and 'serving' describes the purpose for which the tray is used. In the ball example the adjective 'old' refers to the age of the ball, 'red' denotes the colour and 'cricket' is the game for which the ball is used. Thus, we see that when the adjectives are used in a specific order the sentence reads right and the meaning is fairly clear.

Generally, adjectives should be used in this order:

  1. Number/quantity.
  2. Opinion/appearance.
  3. Size.
  4. Temperature.
  5. Age.
  6. Shape.
  7. Colour.
  8. Origin.
  9. Material.
  10. Purpose.

Remember that there could be other attributes which may fit within the general order and sometimes the order of opinion or size attribute could be interchanged. Since using the correct order of adjectives improves your communication skills learn about them by taking the quiz that follows.

1.
Choose the correct sentence which is rearranged from the following words with the correct order of adjectives - has Ayesha long hair black straight
Ayesha has long, straight, black hair.
Long, straight, black hair has Ayesha.
Long, straight, black hair Ayesha has.
Ayesha long, straight, black hair has.
Adjectives should follow the 'size-shape-colour' order of attributes. The other options are grammatically wrong
2.
Choose the correct sentence which is rearranged from the following words with the correct order of adjectives - video game new friend my has an exciting
An exciting, new video game has my friend.
An exciting, new video game my friend has.
My friend has an exciting, new video game.
An exciting, new video game has friend my.
Adjectives should follow the 'opinion - age' order of attributes. The other options are grammatically wrong
3.
Choose the correct sentence which is rearranged from the following words with the correct order of adjectives - a wise imprisoned witch Indian old mean a old man
Imprisoned a wise, old man a mean, old, Indian witch.
A wise, old man a mean, old, Indian witch imprisoned.
A mean, old, Indian witch, a wise, old man imprisoned.
A mean, old, Indian witch imprisoned a wise, old man.
In the case of the witch, the order of adjectives is 'opinion-age-origin' and in the case of the man the order of adjectives is 'opinion-age'. The other options are grammatically wrong
4.
Choose the description with the correct order of adjectives.
Stone, white, beautiful, tiny cottage.
Tiny, stone, white, beautiful cottage.
Tiny, beautiful, stone, white cottage.
Beautiful, tiny, white, stone cottage.
Adjectives should follow the 'opinion - size - colour - material' order of attributes
5.
Choose the description with the correct order of adjectives.
New, huge, wooden, sailing ship.
New, wooden, sailing, huge ship.
Wooden, new, sailing, huge ship.
Wooden, huge, new, sailing ship.
The purpose of the ship (which is sailing) is the adjective to be used before the noun. The other adjectives follow the order of attributes 'opinion - size - material'
6.
"He loves that --- car belonging to his neighbour." Fill the blank with the correct order of adjectives.
green, antique, old, big
antique, green, old, big
old, antique, green, big
big, old, green, antique
Adjectives should follow the 'age - size - colour - proper adjective' order of attributes
7.
"Mustaq likes --- furniture." Fill the blank with the correct order of adjectives.
Italian, black, leather
leather, Italian, black
black, Italian, leather
Italian, leather, black
Adjectives should follow the 'colour - origin - material' order of attributes. Remember origin is usually associated with proper nouns
8.
Choose the correct sentence which is rearranged from the following words with the correct order of adjectives - daffodils beautiful fragrant her boyfriend yellow fresh with presented her
Her boyfriend presented her with fragrant, fresh, beautiful, yellow daffodils.
Her boyfriend presented her with beautiful fresh, fragrant, yellow daffodils.
Her boyfriend presented her with fresh, fragrant, beautiful, yellow daffodils.
All of the above.
'Beautiful', 'fresh' and 'fragrant' all come under 'opinion/appearance' and sometimes their order can be interchanged. 'Opinion/appearance' attributes precede 'colour' attributes
9.
"Have you met that --- next door?" Fill the blank with the correct order of adjectives.
Young, obese, Tamilian, silly boy
Silly, young, obese, Tamilian boy
Obese, young, silly, Tamilian boy
Tamilian, silly, young, obese boy
Adjectives should follow the 'opinion - age - shape - origin' order of attributes
10.
Choose the correct sentence which is rearranged from the following words with the correct order of adjectives - eyes black my has dog ugly small friend's
My friend's dog has ugly, small, black eyes.
My friend's dog has black, small, ugly eyes.
Ugly, small, black eyes my friend's dog has.
Ugly, small, black eyes has my friend's dog.
Adjectives should follow the 'opinion - size - color' order of attributes. Answer 2 has the wrong order whilst answers 3 and 4 are grammatically wrong
Author:  V T Narendra

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