adjective-order-rules-in-english-abaenglish

Adjective order rules in English

Wow, do we have a mind blowing blog post lined up for you all today or what! As we are all aware, English can be tricky in certain ways and the order of adjectives in a sentence unfortunately falls into that difficult and annoying category. In today’s blog post we are going to review the rules that we are required to adopt when we want to structure a sentence in English that has many adjectives.

What is the adjective order?

In English, the words have to follow this order:

Opinion, Size, Age, Colour, Origin, Material and Purpose (OSACOMP)

The funny thing about this order is that native English speakers know how to use it without even thinking because they have learnt it through exposure to the language, however the majority will not actually be able to tell you the rule and why it sounds correct. This rule for non-native speakers is rather complicated, especially if there are several adjectives to be used but with practice it can be mastered so don’t worry.

Examples:

A beautiful small old red round Norwegian fabric armchair.

A comfortable big new blue tight Russian furry jacket

These sentences seem to be very long and unnecessary, however it is vital to know what order the words should be said in in a sentence. More often than not the most adjectives at a time would be 3, in which case the sentence is much more manageable.

What happens if the words order is wrong?

If you say a sentence in English with many adjectives but you get mixed up when trying to implement the OSACOMP rule, don’t panic! Native speakers will still understand what you are trying to say but it perhaps will just not seem as naturally flowing as what it would have sounded if OSACOMP has been adhered to. Let’s look at a couple of short examples of both the correct and incorrect ways to see if we can hear the difference ourselves saying them aloud.

Examples:

Correct = Big black leather bag
Incorrect = Black leather big bag

Correct = Small yellow metal car
Incorrect = Yellow metal small car

What is the best way to improve this?

In all honesty the best way to improve this is simply by practising it. Unfortunately with this, there is no trick or anything like that to make it easier to learn if there are a lot of adjectives. Just bear in mind the OSACOMP method and take your time and you will slowly but surely start to see your progress go through the roof.

Would you like to keep learning?

YES! I WANT TO LEARN MORE

About George

George
George was born and raised near Glasgow, Scotland. He has been teaching English in Spain for the past 4 years, from beginner to business. In his free time he loves travelling with friends and really enjoys watching a good game of football and tennis.

One comment

  1. It is a bit difficult because we have to still remember the OSACOMP rule. Great post 🙂

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