Order of adjectives in sentences
Here are twenty sentences. Many of them have the adjectives in what are generally the wrong order, but there are some where they are not wrong at all or in fact may suggest something else. Can you work out which of the following sentences have the incorrect order of adjectives?
1. She has got long beautiful black hair.
2. He is wearing a blue dirty pair of trousers.
3. This is an old Dutch interesting sculpture.
4. I would like to order a delicious hot bowl of soup.
5. He owns a fat brown big cat.
6. They are playing an old Ukrainian interesting song.
7. I have bought a wooden round beautiful table.
8. She's wearing an orange enormous coat!
9. It is a sunny lovely day today.
10. Do you enjoy watching old silent movies?
11. He is an intelligent young passionate scientist.
12. Could you pass me the black old book?
13. It's going to rain. There are some black big clouds in the sky.
14. Out of all these cars in the museum, it is the Belarusian grey Lada that is the most interesting.
15. The lion has sharp, enormous, big teeth.
16. It was a beautiful, sunny, autumn morning.
17. I thought it was a well-written, fantastic book.
18. I don't like to live in an old, dark, damp house.
19. He was buying a black nice leather jacket.
20. To keep that chair safe, you need to put it in a plastic, large, black bag.
And now scroll down for the answers...
Order of adjectives in sentences: the answers
Here are the most likely answers based on the adjective order as described in Typical Errors in English, but there are some variations depending on the point of view of the speaker, which I have tried to explain below. Some of these might seem unusual, but are grammatically correct. There may be more, but they would perhaps not be used very often at all except in unusual situations...
1. She has got beautiful long black hair.
2. He is wearing a dirty blue pair of trousers. (but a blue dirty pair of trousers is okay if there is more than one pair of dirty trousers, and that one of those pairs is blue)
3. This is an interesting old Dutch sculpture.
4. I would like to order a delicious bowl of hot soup. (a bowl of hot delicious soup is also used)
5. He owns a big fat grey cat. (but a fat grey big cat is possible but unusual; a big cat is usually a lion, tiger, panther, etc. More derogatorily, a big grey fat cat might refer to an old [grey hair], overweight [big] fat cat [a term often used not to describe cats that eat too much, but a wealthy person who is selfish and greedy and uses this position to gain advantages])
6. They are playing an interesting old Ukrainian song.
7. I have bought a beautiful round wooden table.
8. She's wearing an enormous orange coat! (but an orange enormous coat is OK if there is more than one enormous coat and the speaker specifically liked the orange one)
9. It is a lovely sunny day today.
10. Do you enjoy watching old silent movies? Okay
11. He is an passionate intelligent young scientist. (but I have heard an intelligent young passionate scientist!)
12. Could you pass me the old black book? (but if there is more than one black book, then the black old book is okay)
13. It's going to rain. There are some big black clouds in the sky.
14. Out of all these cars in the museum, it is the Belarusian grey Lada that is the most interesting. (This is okay if we are describing a type of grey Lada that was made in Belarus, but for a grey Lada that was perhaps bought in Belarus, then it is a grey Belarusian Lada. Okay, the difference is small, but it's so small it really isn't something to get too worried about. If you had to choose, go for the grey Belarusian Lada as it fits the assumed order that we already know.)
15. The lion has big, sharp, enormous teeth.
16. It was a beautiful, sunny, autumn morning. Okay
17. I thought it was a fantastic, well-written book.
18. I don't like to live in an old, dark, damp house. Okay
19. He was buying a nice black leather jacket. (but like some of the earlier examples, a black nice leather jacket is fine if, for example, there were many leather jackets available and the speaker wanted a black one, or even a nice leather black jacket if there are many nice black jackets, but the speaker specifically wanted one made of leather!)
20. To keep that chair safe, you need to put it in a large, black, plastic bag.