There are 2 basic positions for adjectives:
- Adjective Before Noun
- Adjective After Verb
|1||I have a||big||dog.|
Adjective Before Noun
We often use more than one adjective before the noun:
- I like big black dogs.
- She was wearing a beautiful long red dress.
What is the correct order for two or more adjectives?
1. First of all, the general order is:
“Opinion” is what you think about something. “Fact” is what is definitely true about something.
- a lovely new dress (not
a new lovely dress)
- a boring French film (not
a French boring film)
2. The “normal” order for fact adjectives is
size, shape, age, colour / origin / material / purpose
- a small 18th-century French coffee table
- a rectangular black wooden box
3. Determiners usually come first, even though some grammarians regard them as fact adjectives:
- articles (a, the)
- possessives (my, your…)
- demonstratives (this, that…)
- quantifiers (some, any, few, many…)
- numbers (one, two, three)
Note that when we want to use two colour adjectives, we join them with “and”:
- Many newspapers are black and white.
- She was wearing a long, blue and yellow dress.
Here are some examples of adjective order:
|determiner||opinion adjectives||fact adjectives|
|other||size, shape, age, colour||origin||material||purpose*|
|a||lovely||pink and green||Thai||silk||dress|
|a||big black and white||dog|
*often a noun used as an adjective
A “I want to buy a round table.”
B “Do you want a new round table or an old round table?”
A “I want to buy an old table”.
B “Do you want a round old table or a square old table?”
Adjective After Verb
An adjective can come after some verbs, such as: be, become, feel, get, look, seem, smell, sound
Even when an adjective comes after the verb and not before a noun, it always refers to and qualifies the subject of the clause, not the verb.
Look at the examples below: subject verb adjective
- Ram is English.
- Because she had to wait, she became impatient.
- Is it getting dark?
- The examination did not seem difficult.
- Your friend looks nice.
- This towel feels damp.
- That new film doesn’t sound very interesting.
- Dinner smells good tonight.
- This milk tastes sour.
- It smells bad.
These verbs are “stative” verbs, which express a state or change of state, not “dynamic” verbs which express an action. Note that some verbs can be stative in one sense (she looks beautiful | it got hot), and dynamic in another (she looked at him | he got the money). The above examples do not include all stative verbs.
Note also that in the above structure (subject verb adjective), the adjective can qualify a pronoun since the subject may be a pronoun.