Dear Adjectives, Please fall in line!

Do you remember playing the game — ”name, place, animal, thing” when you were younger? These basically referred to nouns. In our everyday writing, we often use adjectives to describe these nouns. What if a noun has several qualities? How do you decide which one to write first? Today, we’ll decode the order in which adjectives should appear.

When you use multiple adjectives to describe a noun and they are written before the noun, the adjectives are normally placed in a particular order. Adjectives that describe opinions or attitudes (e.g. amazing) usually come first, before more neutral, and factual ones (e.g. blue):

Correct: He was wearing an amazing blue tie.

Incorrect: He was wearing a blue amazing tie.

When adjectives are placed before the noun

If you want to describe something with multiple adjectives, they should be written in the order: opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose Noun. For example:

I have a lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife.

But if you mess even slightly with this word order, you run the risk of sounding like a maniac. Change the order of the adjectives in the sentence above and read it again. Did you see the difference? :D

Here are a few examples of words in each category of adjectives:

Adjectives Order

When adjectives are joined by “and”

When more than one adjective appears after a verb such as “be” (a linking verb), the last two adjectives are connected by “and”. For example:

The movie was sad, dark and scary.

“And” is less common when more than one adjective comes before the noun. For example:

Home is always a warm, welcoming place.

However, “and” can also be used when there are two or more adjectives of the same type, or when they refer to different parts of the same thing. For example”

It was a red and white flag.

Speaking of writing in order, check this short video of trying to line up three naughty monkeys in order–we bet writing adjectives in order will seem easier to do! :D

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A helpful little writing tidbit for you to read, and incorporate into your day-to-day life: both in and outside of work

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Meenakshi Harpanahalli

Meenakshi Harpanahalli

Works at Niyo

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