Rules Regarding Adjective Order
We often use more than one word to describe a person, place, or object. The rules regarding the correct order of these adjectives are not something that we necessarily study in school, but we seem to understand them on an intuitive level. Although the order of the adjectives does not change the meaning of the sentence, our ear can tell when it is not correct.
• Suzy is wearing a loose, green top.
• Suzy is wearing a green, loose top.
Both sentences convey the same information; however, the second sentence does not follow the usual rule regarding the proper order of adjectives.
As a general rule, adjectives should become more permanent as attributes the closer you get to the noun. The following is a guide to help you remember the correct order of adjectives.
• Opinion—Start with adjectives that explain how you feel about something. Examples of opinion adjectives include horrible, difficult, or beautiful.
• Size—These are adjectives such as tiny, enormous, or gigantic.
• Age—Examples include ancient, new, or young.
• Shape—Examples include square, flat, or round.
• Color—Pink, green, or yellow are examples.
• Origin—Examples include French, American, solar, or northern.
• Material- For instance, an object may be wooden, metallic, or linen.
• Purpose—These adjectives often end in -ing and describe how the object is used. Examples would include a “roasting” tin or a “sleeping” bag.
In some cases, it is possible to swap the order of an adjective based on fact and an adjective based on opinion depending on the characteristic that you want to emphasize.