I am a bit confused with the adjectives order when I need to use adjectives that indicate nationality and adjectives that indicate characteristics of an object. Is it, for instance, Indian traditional music or Traditional Indian music? Is it English folk dress or Folk English dress?

Also, what is the word order if we use geographical names as determiners? Is it the Thames typical smell or the typical Thames smell? Is it a common Quebec meal or a Quebec common meal?

  • Definitely not folk English dress, because 'folk' is not a typical adjective; folk dress, folk music etc. are compound noun phrases. Traditional Indian music doesn't sound wrong in the same way, but I think I would prefer Indian traditional music because it distinguishes it from, for example, Indian pop music. Commented Oct 1, 2021 at 10:59

2 Answers 2


As Kate notes, "folk English dress" is incorrect.

The difference between "Traditional Indian music" and "Indian traditional music" is fairly subtle - both are reasonable phrases on their own, but imply slightly different things.

"Indian traditional music" means music an Indian would consider to be 'classical' rather than 'modern'

"Traditional Indian music" would tend to mean music that a non-Indian would consider typical of India, so could include 'modern' music.


As for the second part, I would put the adjective first, because the phrases mean 'the typical smell [of the] Thames' and 'a common meal [in] Quebec'.

You could also say 'the Thames's typical smell'.

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