Adjective order in English

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Adjective order in English Adjective order in English can be be quite complicated. If you are using more than one adjective before a noun, there is often a specific order in which they must be placed.

For example:

A black leather jacket (correct)

A leather black jacket (incorrect)

Here is a short acronym to help you remember: OSASCOMP. Below you will find an explanation for each letter and some example sentences.

Rule 1: OSASCOMP – O for opinion

Adjectives that talk about opinions, judgements or attitudes usually come first.

Opinions, judgements or attitudesNoun
alovelyjacket.
aperfectplate.
anexpensivebike.

Rule 2: OSASCOMP – S for size

Adjectives relating to size, length and height come next. For example:


Judgements, opinions or attitudesSize, length, heightNoun
alovelylargejacket.
aperfectbigplate.
anexpensivebike.

Rule 3: OSASCOMP – A for age

Next are any adjectives relating to age

Judgements, opinions or attitudesSize, length, heightAgeNoun
alovelylargenewjacket.
aperfectbigoldplate.
anexpensivemodernbike.

Rule #4: OSASCOMP – S for shape

Judgements, opinions or attitudesSize, length, heightAgeShapeNoun
alovelylargenewjacket.
aperfectbigoldroundplate.
anexpensivemodernbike.

Rule #5: OSASCOMP – C for colour

Next are the adjectives that talk about colour.

Judgements, opinions or attitudesSize, length, heightAgeShapeColourNoun
alovelylargenewblackjacket.
aperfectbigoldroundwhiteplate.
anexpensivemodernredbike.

Rule #6: OSASCOMP – O for origin

This refers to adjectives that say where the noun is from.


Judgements, opinions or attitudesSize, length, heightAgeShapeColourOriginNoun
alovelylargenewblackjacket.
aperfectbigoldroundwhiteChineseplate.
anexpensivemodernredItalianbike.

Rule #7: OSASCOMP – M for material

This refers to what the noun is made of.

Judgements, opinions or attitudesSize, length, heightAgeShapeColourOriginMaterialNoun
alovelylargenewblackleatherjacket.
aperfectbigoldroundwhiteChineseporcelainplate.
anexpensivemodernredItalianbike.

Rule #8: OSASCOMP – P for purpose

This refers to what the noun is used for (e.g. wedding ring). They are often nouns used as adjectives.

Judgements, opinions or attitudesSize, length, heightAgeShapeColourOriginMaterialPurposeNoun
alovelylargenewblackleatherjacket.
aperfectbigoldroundwhiteChineseporcelaindinnerplate.
anexpensivemodernredItaliansportsbike.

Important notes:

1. The adjectives used in some of the tables above are examples only. It is uncommon in English to use more than three adjectives in the same sentence to describe a noun.

2. Some adjectives can be found in different positions, but if you follow the OSASCOMP rule for adjective order in English, you won’t be wrong!

Exercises / Tests

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