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From the Copy Desk: Your Adjectives Are Out Of Order

Updated: Apr 18, 2023

Ever heard of adjective hierarchy? Probably not. But you might use this rule of grammar all the time without even realizing it.

Adjective hierarchy is used when listing multiple adjectives to describe an object. Grammar nerds know there's a specific order that adjectives should fall into, or else the sentence just sounds strange. Here's the breakdown:


quantity

opinion

size

age

color

shape

origin

material

purpose


Here’s an example of how it's applied correctly:

"I purchased two gorgeous petite midcentury white egg-shaped French lucite lounge chairs from a vintage store in Annapolis. Love!"


If this sentence were phrased differently, it wouldn't sound right. For example:

"I purchased two lucite, petite and egg-shaped French midcentury lounge chairs from a vintage store in Annapolis. Just love them!"



Or, put another way, it's clunky and long when it could be tight and neat. An example:

"I purchased two petite and midcentury lounge chairs from a vintage store in Annapolis. They're French in origin, white and egg shaped. And they're made of lucite. Love them!


Learn something new here? Check back for more grammar tips each month.



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