Learning a new language is hard. Learning your own language as an adult is even harder. When people ask you how to say things in your native language sometimes you know it’s wrong but you can’t explain why. The adjective order is one of those things.

“If you mess with that word order in the slightest you’ll sound like a maniac, he warns in the extract. “It’s an odd thing that every English speaker uses that list, but almost none of us could write it out. And as size comes before colour, green great dragons can’t exist.”

When more than one adjective comes before a noun, the adjectives are normally in a particular order. Adjectives which describe opinions or attitudes (e.g. amazing) usually come first, before more neutral, factual ones (e.g. red):

Generally, the adjective order in English is:

  1. Quantity or number
  2. Quality or opinion
  3. Size
  4. Age
  5. Shape
  6. Color
  7. Proper adjective (often nationality, other places of origin, or material)
  8. Purpose or qualifier

So it’s a big red bus, not the red bug bus.



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.