The Royal Order of Adjectives

I bet you didn’t know that there is a certain order in which to put multiple adjectives describing the same thing.
Native English speakers do it without thinking about it, but for those people learning English as a second or third language, we should define the proper order.

Example:
We admire “your shiny new red car” and not “red new shiny your car.”

Here is the official order of priority:
#1 = Determiner – definite or indefinite articles and possessives
Examples: the office, your boss

#2 = Observation or opinion
Examples: interesting comment, expensive valve

#3 = Size and shape
Examples: round, three-inch

#4 = Age
Examples: new, five-year-old

#5 = Color
Examples: mottled, red

#6 = Origin
Examples: British, home-made

#7 = Material
Examples: stainless steel, limestone

#8 = Qualifier, often an integral part of the noun
Examples: ball valve, drilling rig

Thus, “your shiny new red car” would be a  1-2-4-5 car, obeying the Royal Order.
We usually put commas in between multiple adjectives in a row, unless the words are really short and string together nicely like the shiny new red car (we wouldn’t say “shiny, new, red car”).

Examples:
Their reliable, four-inch, used, purple, Swedish, stainless steel butterfly valve is a 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8.
And so are her delicious, big, annual, decorated, home-made, gingerbread Christmas cookies.

3 Responses to “The Royal Order of Adjectives”

  1. Placement of adjectives and adverbs « CyberText Newsletter Says:

    […] a ‘Royal Order of Adjectives’, as nicely described by Jeanne Purdue on her blog: https://oilpatchwriting.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/the-royal-order-of-adjectives/, and also a ‘Royal Order of Adverbs’: […]

  2. Various useful websites related to writing | CyberText Newsletter Says:

    […] royal order of adjectives: https://oilpatchwriting.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/the-royal-order-of-adjectives/ (yes, there really is an order for something like the ‘noisy little red car’ – you wouldn’t […]

  3. Mirella Says:

    Great post! Thanks for sharing the details here. I had a great read.

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