What Is the correct Order of Adjectives? See How To Know

Is it “a brown small Nigerian earthen pot.” or “a small brown Nigerian earthen pot.” or “an earthen brown small Nigerian pot” or “a Nigerian small brown earthen pot”?

Do you also struggle with this kind of questions and would like to know the correct order?

In this lesson,

You will see and learn the correct order of adjectives and how to use this order to pick the correct answer to English questions of this nature.


ALSO SEE: The Seven Basic Rules of Question Tags


Take note.

A link for you to practice past questions on this topic is included at the bottom of this lesson.

Correct order of adjectives

Let’s take an example.

The tourist bought ______

  • A. a brown small Nigerian earthen pot.
  • B. a small brown Nigerian earthen pot.
  • C. an earthen brown small Nigerian pot.
  • D. a Nigerian small brown earthen pot.

To get the correct option,

Follow the order below exactly how they have been listed — from 1 to 10.

1. Determiner

A determine comes first in your order of adjectives.

This could be an ARTICLE (a, an, the), PRONOUN (my, your, their, our), ADJECTIVE (any, all, several), ADVERB (very, so, less).

There is a determiner in our example which is “a/an”.

2. Quality

This could be: good, pretty, happy, smart, bad, sweet, dull, ugly, fine, careful, beautiful, bright, interesting, exciting, Etc.

There is NO adjective of quality.

3. Size or weight

This could be: small, big, short, tall, large, huge, narrow, wide, long, lengthy, full, tiny, plentiful, Etc.

There is an adjective of size in our example which is “small”.

  • A small

4. Age

This could be: young, old, outdated, current, latest, old-fashioned, Etc.

There is NO adjective of age in our example.

5. Shape

This could be: fat, thin, robust, thin, square, flat, oval, roundish, spherical, lanky, Etc.

There is NO adjective of shape in our example.

6. Colour

This could be: any of the primary, secondary or tertiary colours including other expressions like dark-complexion, light-skinned, Etc.

There is a colour in our example which is “brown”.

  • A small brown

7. Origin or nationality

This could be: a country, state, region, province, tribe or ethnic group.

There is an origin in our example which is “Nigerian”.

  • A small brown Nigerian

8. Nominal adjective

These are nouns that are used as adjectives to qualify another noun.

E.g. TABLE (noun) + CLOTH (another noun) = TABLE CLOTH

There is NO nominal adjective in our example.

9. Verbal adjective

These are verbs that are used as adjective to qualify a Noun.

Verbal adjectives are usually formed by adding —ed, —en, or —ing to a Verb.

E.g. WANTED MAN, WALKING STICK

There is a Verbal adjective in our example.

  • A small brown Nigerian earthen

10. Noun

This is the main noun in the expression.

There is a main Noun in our example which is “pot”.

  • A small brown Nigerian earthen pot.

So,

Our correct answer to the question is Option B.

Summary

You can recreate the below on your note for easy remembrance and better understanding.

ORDER OF ADJECTIVESOUR EXAMPLE
DeterminerA
Quality
Size/Weightsmall
Age
Shape
Colourbrown
Origin/NationalityNigerian
Nominal adjective
Verbal adjectiveearthen
Nounpot

Test yourself

Click on the link below to practice real past questions on this topic now.

GOOD LUCK.

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