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Adjective order

Educational infographic detailing the correct order of adjectives in English grammar, labeled with the mnemonic 'OSASCOMP' representing opinion, size, age, shape, color, origin, material, and purpose, with examples for each category.

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Native speakers often learn how to order adjectives intuitively through years of exposure and practice rather than through formal study. They develop a natural sense of what ‘sounds right’ without necessarily knowing the rules that govern these choices. However, for students of English as a second language, mastering the order of adjectives can be quite challenging. As you can see in the grammar chart above, there’s a handy mnemonic (OSASCOMP) that can help you remember the usual sequence. Fortunately, it’s rare that you’ll need to use many adjectives together, and when you do, the context of the sentence often guides the correct placement, making communication clear and effective even if the order varies slightly.

Opinion vs fact adjectives

Opinion adjectives express what the speaker thinks of something, e.g. nice, handsome, brilliant, etc., and fact adjectives give us information about something such as age, size, colour, material, etc.

When we use two or more adjectives together, opinion adjectives usually go before fact adjectives.

  • They live in an amazing modern attic. 
  • She’s a beautiful young woman. 

Order of fact adjectives

When we use two or more fact adjectives together, they normally go in the following order:

  1. OPINION: wonderful, terrible, lovely
  2. SIZE: small, huge, tiny
  3. AGE: ancient, new, young
  4. SHAPE: round, square, oblong
  5. COLOUR: green, bright, pale
  6. ORIGIN: Victorian, American, Turkish
  7. MATERIAL: wooden, metallic, cotton
  8. PURPOSE: racing, sleeping, cooking

Determiners

Before any adjective-noun combination, we use one or more determiners, which may include articles, possessives, demonstratives, numbers or quantifiers: a, the, some, any, this, my, her, one, ten, many, few, etc.