The Weird Rules of Adjective Order

Native speakers may not know these rules exist. We have learned them by ear.

English language learners will sound more fluent if they practice this adjective order:

  1. place (first, last, next …)
  2. quantity or number
  3. opinion/quality (general before specific)
  4. size, length, height …
  5. temperature
  6. age
  7. condition (spotless, shiny, new …)
  8. shape
  9. color
  10. origin/nationality
  11. material (wood, paper, wool …)
  12. purpose

For example, we say, “I wore my last clean white cotton shirt.” (Place, condition, color, material.)

To Americans, “I wore my clean last cotton white shirt,” sounds like nonsense.

For more information, look at this conversation.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. A,
    So glad you do! Imagine having to learn that arbitrary order. English is so strange.


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