How to properly position adjectives



Sometimes I find myself in the position to describe something and of course making massive use of adjectives. Check out the following sentences, I would say, for example:

  • three large red apples;
  • three red large apples;

are equally correct, I think but I've never heard anyone say:

  • large three red apples;
  • large red three apples...

and so on. I don't know if there actually exists any specific rule, but in which order should adjectives be put? Is there a right way to list them?


Posted 2013-02-08T20:20:10.310

Reputation: 977

5Related – None – 2013-02-08T20:33:57.010

1Number always comes first, and size should be second. If you can remember that much, you will not be making any big mistakes. – temporary_user_name – 2013-02-08T20:39:41.083

I also like this answer, which touches on the same topic, and includes a good (albeit advanced) reference. Interestingly enough, out of your examples, the one that sounds most natural to me is the one that follows that advice.

– J.R. – 2013-02-08T23:38:22.923

1Is number an adjective? I'd've thought it goes first because it goes in front of the adjectives. – mcalex – 2013-02-09T03:47:50.783



The order used to write adjectives should be the following one, basing on the category of the adjectives:

  • Opinion
  • Size
  • Age
  • Shape
  • Color
  • Material
  • Origin
  • Purpose

In your case, the order should be: three, large, red.

The linked paged doesn't say where to put numerals, but I would put them before every adjective.


Posted 2013-02-08T20:20:10.310

Reputation: 20 456

A small correction: origin comes before material. – Mori – 2013-12-03T04:48:38.420


There is some room for flexibility, but a typical order is that described in ‘An A-Z of English Grammar and Usage’. First come adjectives describing or expressing feeling, followed by adjectives of size, age and colour, and then those described as ‘defining’, such as place of origin or the type of thing that the adjective modifies.

Barrie England

Posted 2013-02-08T20:20:10.310

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