Adjectives and Adverbs: the Order of Adjectives

In English, when there are multiple adjectives in a row, there is a general order in which they should be placed. This order is not a hard and fast rule, and there may be cases where different orders are possible or more appropriate depending on context. However, following this general order can help make a sentence sound more natural and easier to understand.

1 – opinion or observation (stylish, interesting, well-mannered) 

2 – size (small, large, medium-sized)

3 – physical quality (smooth, heavy, soft) 

4 – shape (round, square, curvy) 

5 – age (old, new, modern)

6 – colour (green, pink, gold-coloured) 

7 – origin or religion (Japanese, Italian, Buddhist) 

8 – material (wooden, glass, leather)  

9 – purpose or attribute (commercial, cooking, coffee) 

Let’s take a look at some examples:

  • She prefers to use her small, old, silver laptop while travelling on business. As it is both convenient and of relatively little value, she isn’t too worried that it might get damaged. 
  • A leading Dutch manufacturer of sustainable technology solutions has announced a new partnership with a global renewable energy firm. 
  • Our new office assistant is a cheerful, middle-aged, Irish woman. I like her very much, but it took me some time to get used to her accent, which is quite strong, but now I find it quite charming.

Here are some invented examples of long sentences with all types of adjectives placed in the proper order. Such sentences are extremely rare.

  • I was impressed by the elegant, compact, light, rectangular, contemporary, silver, Italian, metal, decorative desk. 
  • The luxurious, medium-sized, soft, curved, antique, red, French, leather, office chair was a prized possession of the CEO.
  • We’re looking for a stylish, small, smooth, round, modern, black, Japanese, glass, coffee table for the reception area.

When there are two adjectives that are from the same group, the word and is placed between them: 

  • The library has an extensive collection of old and new books.
  • He was a confident and charismatic speaker who captivated the audience.
  • The conference room was small and cramped, making it difficult for everyone to fit comfortably.