According to an answer in Quora to the question: What are the most frustrating grammatical errors you see online? there is a specific way to position adjectives based in their type, how accurate is this?

Ordering of Adjectives#3: Ordering of Adjectives

If you have more than one adjective to describe a noun, there is a specific order you put them in, or else the clause will sound very awkward.

That order is: Opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose-noun.

The most common example of this is "the lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife."

If you put any of those adjectives out of order, the phrase will sound extremely confusing

How confusing will sound to mix that order? I mean, would it just sound a little like a non-native speaker or it will mess the sentence meaning completely?

Doing a little research on the subject it seems that there is not even a consensus for the right order, so I wonder how important is this or under what conditions it may change (American English has the same order of Brithis English?, etc).

Example Order 1: enter image description here

Example Order 2: enter image description here

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    This issue has been discussed on EL&U Feb 24, 2017 at 13:26
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    I have never seen such ordering, but they do capture the native pattern very well. Since the order seems logical to a native (not just traditional, but right), using a different order would sound foreign. Feb 24, 2017 at 17:29
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    Almost no native speakers even realise there's a correct order, let alone lits and charts and aides memoire to help navigate it. There is a specific order, and learning it takes practice, which means endless reading, film-or-TV watching, radio listening or conversation. It will be possible to use those lists as guides, and at the other end of the scale, that lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife served only to prove how pointless the whole idea is. Oct 8, 2017 at 13:44
  • @RobbieGoodwin it is helpful when you have like three adjectives to use and got confused with the order they should be. Having in mind an example sentence containing all the types of adjectives would clarify that instantly.
    – marcanuy
    Oct 8, 2017 at 14:11

1 Answer 1


The order of adjectives is a good guideline:

  • Quantity or number.
  • Quality or opinion.
  • Size.
  • Age.
  • Shape.
  • Color.
  • Proper adjective (often nationality, other place of origin, or material)
  • Purpose or qualifier.

The challenge to sticking to this order is that adjectives (or adjectival phrases) can modify other adjectives. Consider:

He wore a pair of dirty red shoes.

Are the shoes dirty? Or are they a "dirty red" color? Or this:

He was carrying a pair of old fish bowls.

Bowls for old fish? Or old bowls? A pair of fish or a pair of bowls?

The point is that you have to adjust the order to make your meaning clear.

He wore a dirty pair of red shoes.

Or use commas:

He wore a pair of dirty, red shoes.

(Edit) The link I include is only one such chart, because these are guidelines and not rules, and don't always cover every possibility. Furthermore, the order may vary depending on the words you choose, especially if those words have multiple meanings. Example

I have a pair of Norwegian blue parrots.

Norwegian blue is a (fictional) breed of parrot, and should be classified under "proper adjective", not color or origin. Other adjectives would come before or after, depending:

I have a pair of beautiful dead Norwegian blue talking parrots.

Eventually you get the hang of what sounds right, but it takes practice.

  • Your answer has the merit of not being overwhelming. Rome was not b built in one day.
    – Lambie
    May 22, 2018 at 22:52

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