In my book I'm asked to write a sentence using the following words :

Taipei is a / lively / city / with huge skyscrapers / modern.

According to my book, which is named Passage and published by Cambridge, the order of modifiers is like so:

Quality, size, age, type, name and descriptive phrase. Since Shape, color and material can also describe a noun, the order of modifiers can also be like this:

Quality, size, shape, age, color, type, material and noun.

Now, I can write my sentence in two ways but unsure which is right or if both are correct.

  1. "Taipei is a lively modern city with huge skyscrapers."


  1. "Taipei is a modern lively city with huge skyscrapers."

Both words modern and lively are qualities.

2 Answers 2


modern lively city would suggest that there have been lively cities throughout history, and Tapei is a modern example of one.

lively modern city would suggest that the city of Tapei is both lively and modern.

modern is a kind of age (compare its opposite, ancient) and would come after quality, lively.

  • Wow! Didn't know that modern is a word about age. Commented Jul 14, 2016 at 15:03
  • 2
    A modern city is one whose buildings and infrastructure are (for the most part) new, not old. You understand new and old as words about age, right? Other "age-related" terms might be "19th century", "jurassic", "antediluvian". Age references aren't necessarily numbers expressing years.
    – TimR
    Commented Jul 14, 2016 at 15:04
  • 1
    If you use a corma then there's really no ambiguity.
    – shawnt00
    Commented Jul 14, 2016 at 17:51
  • True, a longer-than-normal pause between the adjectives and a concomitant adjustment of the intonation (represented in writing with a comma) can signal that the adjectives are to be given equal weight as attributes of the noun.
    – TimR
    Commented Jul 14, 2016 at 17:59


Taipei is a lively modern city with huge skyscrapers.


Taipei is a modern lively city with huge skyscrapers.

is technically correct.

I would probably prefer the first one. This is because modern city is modified by lively, telling what kind of modern city it is.

Whereas, in the second one Taipei is a lively city with modern saying what kind of lively city it is.

Since modern is probably more important or fundamental than lively, the first combination is better.

Think of the word lovely. We would also say it is a lovely modern city (telling what kind of modern city it is, and probably not the other way around).

As Mark Hubbard has hinted, you would probably want to use a comma to separate the two adjectives in any of the phrases using modern and lively (or lovely).


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