Adjective Order – Teach Your Students the Correct Order of Adjectives

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Did you know that when more than one adjective is used in a sentence, that they need to be written in a specific order?

Most English speakers, including your students do this automatically. When they speak or write they use what sounds correct to guide the order of adjectives. They know that “the brick last house” sounds odd and can quickly and confidently adjust it to “the last brick house”. This is fine for commonly used adjectives.

However, if your students need to use adjectives that are not as common, especially ones that are not used in everyday conversation, it can be very difficult for them to determine what the correct adjective placement is.

Give your students opportunities to explore and practice how adjectives should be placed in a sentence and their skills and confidence will increase.

Here is the correct order for adjectives.

1) OPINION (lovely, useful)

2) SIZE (big, enormous)

3) AGE (mature, ancient)

4) SHAPE (square, oval)

5) COLOR (red, burgandy)

6) ORIGIN (American, English)

7) MATERIAL (wooden, cotton)

8) PURPOSE (typing, sun)

Use these exercises to get your students practicing adjective placement.

1) Write the order of adjectives on the board and ask your students to suggest examples. Write two examples for each type of adjective.

2) Ask your students to copy what you have written on the board and include two more examples for each adjective type.

3) Write 3 or 4 adjectives on the board and ask your students to use all of them in a sentence. Here are some adjectives that you could use (hairy, big, yellow), (cold, silver, English), (roasted, salty, chilli), (fluffy, young, white). This activity could be done a few times.

4) Write 3 or 4 adjectives on the board. Include one or two words that your students will not know. Here are some examples (re-hydrated, orange, African), (dusty, brown, marsupial), (acidic, salty, Greek). Ask your students to look the words that they don’t know up in a dictionary and then use all the words in one sentence.

5) Ask you students to find three examples of adjective order in books that they have been exploring in class.

6) Write a sentence on the board that includes at least three adjectives. Ask your students to write the opposite of that sentence. When they do this it will become clear that even though the meaning of the adjectives can change dramatically the order of adjectives stays the same.

For example, “The boy saw the long, dusty, dirt road” becomes “The boy saw the short, clean, concrete road”.

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