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Adjective order in English

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Putting adjectives in the right order in English

 
Native English speakers naturally place adjectives (and secondary nouns acting as adjectives) in the "correct" order when writing or speaking; but very few native English speakers have ever learnt, or even thought of, the rules that determine the order in which adjectives are placed.
     This obviously means that the rules are a) very basic and simple, and b) very few in number. More than rules, they are principles.

Adjectives are placed in English according to their nature or type. There are three groups of adjectives, defining the qualities of a noun :
C. Classifying adjectives, innate or fundamental permanent qualities
 B. Basic, permanent but circumstantial qualities
A. Articles & accessories, relative or perceived circumstantial qualities.
  At the start of group A come Articles and determiners

And of course, they will be placed in the natural order ABC, with the most fundamental adjectives coming closest to the noun, i.e. last.

Each group contains different types of adjectives, which may require a specific sequence. the table below lists the different groups and their types, and is followed by examples.

 When two group A adjectives of similar nature qualify the same noun, they may be linked by "and". However "and" is never required to link adjectives from different groups.

Group A Group B Group C Noun
Article and accessories Basic Classifying
Article or determiner
  >  perceived quality,
      > Size, weight, age
       etc
Colour
   > Nationality
         > Gender
(sometimes gender before nationality)
Permanent quality
   > substance
(often a secondary noun)
My first big green rubber ball
His five old American cousins.
British female voters
Magnificent old American Ford automobile.
Memorable French skiing holiday
Dangerous and useless chemical experiment
Nice fresh red Spanish tomatoes







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