1. I saw an anxious pale girl.
  2. I saw a pale anxious girl.

I'm familiar with with OSASCOMP rule for order of adjectives used, which states the order of adjectives as


The adjective pale can be categorized as color but I'm not able to decide the type for the adjective anxious.

  • Per this NGram, the sequence a pale anxious is far more likely. I wouldn't take too much notice of your "OSASCOMP rule" in this context - but to me, pale is more of an "opinion, judgement [of condition]" than a literal reference to colour. And anxious has close connections to "purpose", in that it refers to matters concerning [internal] state of mind. Commented Oct 5, 2017 at 13:56

1 Answer 1


I think the fundamental problem with this adjective order, and why both descriptions will sound odd to most native English speakers, is that multiple adjectives should be related. That is, they should impact each other.

For example the "large black rectangle" - large and black are both descriptions that will distinguish this rectangle from others. So this is a proper use of multiple adjectives. But you would not usually say "the large valuable rectangle", as the value of the rectangle is unrelated to distinguishing or identifying it.

In circumstances like this, it would usually be more proper to say

"I saw a pale girl who appeared anxious"


"I saw a girl whose face was pallid with anxiety".

  • Regarding your point that ”both descriptions will sound odd to most native English speakers“, question english.stackexchange.com/q/95815 might be of interest.
    – myrdd
    Commented Jun 23, 2018 at 6:59

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