Adjectives describe nouns. Often, writers use only one adjective to describe a noun either by placing the adjective in front of the noun or by using a stative verb and placing the adjective at the end of the sentence. For example:
He's an excellent teacher.
She seems very shy.
Sometimes, more than one adjective is used to describe a noun. In this case, English speakers use a specific adjective order when placing each adjective. Each adjective is separated by a comma. For example:
He drives an big, expensive, German car.
Her employer is an interesting, old, Dutch man.
When using more than one adjective to describe a noun place the adjectives in the following order before the noun.
NOTE: We usually use no more than three adjectives preceding a noun.
Example: an interesting book, a boring lecture
Example: a big apple, a thin wallet
Example: a new car, a modern building, an ancient ruin
Example: a square box, an oval mask, a round ball
Example: a pink hat, a blue book, a black coat
Example: some Italian shoes, a Canadian town, an American car
Example: a wooden box, a woolen sweater, a plastic toy
Here are some examples of nouns modified with three adjectives in the correct order based on the list above. Notice that the adjectives are not separated by commas.
- A wonderful old Italian clock. (opinion - age - origin)
- A big square blue box. (dimension - shape - color)
- A disgusting pink plastic ornament. (opinion - color - material)
- Some slim new French trousers. (dimension - age - origin)