Chapter 1-5-11: The Position and Word Order of Adjectives
Here are some questions that students might wonder about:
Does the adjective get positioned before or after the noun?
What about a verb? Can adjectives go after a verb?
What if there is more than one adjective? For example, what if a hat is brown and also ugly? What is the word order for placing these adjectives?
Adjectives Before Nouns
Adjectives are used when more information is needed about a person, place or thing.
Normally, Adjectives are placed in front on nouns. These are referred to as Attributive Adjectives.
They are placed after a determiner (a, an, the, this, that etc.) and before the noun.
All my classmates said there were too many difficult questions on the exam.
- Difficult is the adjective that modifies the noun questions. Too many is the determiner.
It is hard to find a capable manager these days.
- Capable is the adjective that modifies the noun manager. A is the determiner.
The new interns are going to learn a lot.
- New is the adjective that modifies the noun interns. The is the determiner.
Adjectives After Nouns
Adjectives that directly follow a noun are called postpositive adjectives.
Uses for postpositive adjectives:
Certain instiutionalized expressions or fixed phrases
- attorney general
- court martial
- notary public
- accounts payable
Some adjectives ending in -ible/-able
This will effect everyone responsible.
Five centimeters deep
With Superlative Adjectives
That was the cheapest meal available.
After pronouns like something, everything, anything, nothing, somebody, anywhere, etc.
Can we please go somewhere quiet?
Adjectives After Verbs
Adjectives that follow a noun and a verb are called predicative adjectives.
These adjectives can follow verbs such as:
Subject Verb Adjective examples:
- Does she seem happy?
- Lunch smells amazing.
- The students are confused.
- The children became restless.
Order of Adjectives
When more than one adjective appears before a noun, the adjectives occur in a specific order unless the author intentionally breaks the rule for artistic expression. So, for example, adjectives about opinions appear first in the list of adjectives, and adjectives related to purpose occur at the end of this list.
Incorrect: The protagonist was holding a blue unusual hamburger in her hand.
Correct: The protagonist was holding an unusual blue hamburger in her hand.
The following table lists the usual sequence of adjectives that appear before a noun: