Using Many Adjectives

 

Adjectives are words which describe nouns. If there is one adjective, it is placed in front of the noun. For example: the blue house


When you use more than one adjective, they should follow a standard order:

  1. Quantity or number (many, three)
  2. Opinion (good, boring)
  3. Size (large, small)
  4. Shape (round, triangular)
  5. Age (old, new)
  6. Color (brown, green)
  7. Nationality or place of origin (Irish, Swedish)
  8. Material (bronze, fabric)
  9. Purpose/qualifier (wet, frying)

Most of the time it is advisable not to use all of the categories, but the order remains the same no matter how many you use. For example: a small, red, metal truck (size, color, material) or: a charming, small, red, metal, Italian truck (opinion, size, color, material, origin)

If there are only two adjectives, it is acceptable to write them with a comma separating the adjectives, or without any commas. Note that commas do NOT separate adjectives from the noun itself. For example, both are correct:

  • a small metal truck  
  • a small, metal truck

If both of the adjectives are from the same category, separate them with the word “and” and no commas. For example: a metal and plastic truck

When you use more than one adjective, it is advisable to separate them with commas for clarity. As with two adjectives, there is no comma between the final adjective and the noun. For example: the pretty, small, blue flower

         Sometimes one of the words describes another rather than the noun itself. In such a case, those words are placed together within the same set of commas. The difference may be slight, but the meaning changes, so be careful to note the placement of the words and commas. Compare these two phrases:

  • The bright, small, blue, French flower (bright refers to the flower)
  • the small, bright blue, French flower (bright refers to the color only, not necessarily the whole flower)

     Keep the adjectives in the correct order and separate them clearly with commas to make your speech and writing more natural.