Adjective Order

 In Grammar help, Quick tips

Which is correct: “it is an old small castle” or “it’s a small old castle”? This is one to confuse natives and non-natives alike…

Firstly the basics: Everyone knows that adjectives are a very important part of the English language. However, something that everyone doesn’t know is that there is are specific rules on adjective order in sentences. Interested? Read on!

Below you can see a table showing you the correct adjective order when used in a sentence:

adjective order

Most commonly adjectives are used to give a either a general or specific opinion, for example:


The weather is good today.

The food is nice.


My dog is small. 

The car is new. 

Other than opinion, adjectives are mainly used to describe how things look, sound or taste. However, the adjective order in a sentence is only really important when we want to use two or three adjectives in the same description.

For example it would sound very strange to hear someone say:

1) “I cooked a Mexican wonderful dinner last night”


2) “the little poor bird is hurt”.

The correct way would be:

1)”I cooked a wonderful Mexican dinner last night” (wonderful = general opinion #1 / Mexican = nationality #7)


2) “the poor little bird is hurt”. (poor = general opinion #1 / little = specific opinion #2)

*TIP*A good way to remember the difference between general opinion and specific opinion is that a general opinion can be disagreed with….something that is wonderful for one person, might be terrible for somebody else. However, nobody can disagree that a bird is ‘little‘, or that a car that I bought yesterday is ‘new‘.

The good news for English language learners is that with some practice, Adjective order is easy area to master.  Simply take some time to study the adjective order table shown above and as with everything else: practice-practice-practice!

Now, back to the original question…’small old castle’ or ‘old small castle’?

I’m not going to answer this one: If you think you know, comment below!

Good luck and I hope to see some of you on Skype soon!


***Want to practice adjective order with a qualified English teacher? Remember, you can book a Free Trial lesson with one of our Friendly Teachers. No personal details are needed, you simply choose a date and time, tell us your Skype ID and book your lesson. It’s easy! What are you waiting for – book now! ***




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