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 Adjective order

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PostSubject: Adjective order   Fri 21 Nov - 10:57

Practise with a grammar game

What is the correct order of adjectives before a noun?
Michael Swan (Practical English Usage, Oxford University Press, 1997) writes:
"Unfortunately, the rules for adjective order are very complicated, and different grammars disagree about the details" p. 8
He does, however, go on to list some of the most important rules:

1.Adjectives of colour, origin, material and purpose usually go in that order.
Colour origin material purpose noun
red Spanish leather riding boots
A brown German beer mug
A Venetian glass flower vase

2.Other adjectives usually go before words of colour, origin, material and purpose. It is impossible to give exact rules, but adjectives of size, length and height often come first.
The round glass table (NOT the glass round table)
A big, modern brick house (NOT a modern, big brick house)
Long, flexible steel poles
A tall, ancient oak-tree

3.Adjectives which express judgements or attitudes usually come before all others.
Examples are lovely, definite, pure, absolute, extreme, perfect, wonderful, silly.
A lovely, long, cool drink
Who's that silly fat man over there?

4. Numbers usually go before adjectives.
Six large eggs
The second big shock

First, next and last most often go before one, two, three etc.
The first three days
My last two jobs." pp. 8-9

He does not mention age, which would normally go after adjectives of size, length and height, but before colour, origin, material and purpose.
A big old straw hat.
A charming young university student.

Thus, a complete list could be:

(article) + number + judgement/attitude + size, length, height + age + colour + origin + material + purpose + noun
a lovely long black leather coat
a valuable Dutch Impressionist painting
a rustic old stone holiday cottage
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