Adjective Placement. Free English Lesson with Test and Certificate.
Quick Adjective Placement study for SAT, IELTS, TESOL and other exams.
Tip: Listen to the video while you read the lesson below.
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How to use adjective order in English
This is the second of our three adjective tests. In English, adjectives come before the noun. For example, we would say: "he has a black car," but not, "he has a car black." This test also shows that there is a specific order of adjectives when we are using more than one adjective to describe a noun.
It is usual to have a maximum of three adjectives before a noun. Here's an example:
- She bought a SPORTS car
- She bought an ITALIAN SPORTS car
- She bought a FAST ITALIAN SPORTS car.
Your English lesson about Adjective Placement and Good/Well
Welcome to the second Adjective Lesson! In this lesson, you will learn the correct order and placement of adjectives, and we will review the common mistakes made with good and well.
In this lesson, it is very important to practice the example sentences so that you can really hear the difference. When you are speaking English, it is important to be able to speak fluently without having to think about things like adjective order. Let’s begin!
First, here’s a general overview of what adjectives are. Adjectives are important parts of the English language. There are four parts of speech, in other words four basic types of words in English:
- Nouns are people, places, things and ideas.
- Verbs are action words.
- Adjectives describe or modify (change) nouns
- Adverbs describe or modify verbs (they can also modify adjectives and other adverbs).
Where to put adjectives
First, let’s look at adjective placement. In English, adjectives come before the noun. We say ‘black car’ instead of ‘car black’. In addition, there is a specific order of adjectives when we are using more than one to describe a noun.
Have a look at these next examples:
They moved to a big white house.
He bought an expensive Italian sports car.
She has beautiful long black hair.
You can put it in the big brown wooden box.
Notice that we usually DO NOT USE more than three adjectives before a noun.
When using more than one adjective to describe a noun, place the adjectives in the following order before the noun.
First, we use opinion and general description adjectives. Some examples would be nice, funny, beautiful, delicious, or expensive.
We had some delicious southern fried chicken.
It was a nice warm spring day.
He wore a funny purple hat.
Next, we use adjectives that express dimension, size, or weight; for example, big, small, long, and heavy.
They had a beautiful big black dog.
He walked down the long dirt road.
The clever little boy always asked questions.
He wore a funny big purple hat.
Adjectives that refer to age are used next. Some examples include old, new, young, and ancient.
He had a beautiful antique clock in his office.
She loved fashionable new shoes.
They were an exciting young basketball team.
He wore a funny big old purple hat.
After adjectives describing age, next we use adjectives that refer to shape such as round, square, or oval.
Please put the flowers on the little round table.
The horse was kept in an old square barn.
They raced around the muddy oval track.
He wore a funny old triangular hat.
Next in the order of adjectives is color.
The graceful white swan swam in the lake.
The big yellow school bus dropped off all the children.
The beautiful white snow covered the streets.
After color we use adjectives that refer to the noun’s origin. This can refer to country such as Italian, English, Chinese, and sometimes, it can also refer to a region or even an ocean.
We ate fresh Atlantic salmon for dinner.
He always drove expensive German cars.
She loved to sip delicious French wine.
Notice that the adjective form of the country is different from the name of the country itself. We don’t say China food, instead we say Chinese food. We don’t say France wine, but instead we say French wine.
Moving on, the next set of adjectives are those referring to the material that the noun is made of. Some examples include, cotton, plastic, or wooden.
The elegant glass bowl shattered into a million pieces when he dropped it on the floor.
He always wore a black leather jacket when he rode on his motorcycle.
The beautiful red silk roses looked real.
When he worked in the field he wore a big straw hat.
More adjective placement exercises
Lastly, we use adjectives that modify or describe the purpose or power of the noun. Some examples of this type of adjective include electric, gas, running, fishing, and racing.
The small electric heater worked very well in the winter time.
He was very proud of his new white fishing boat.
They owned a beautiful brown racing horse.
Good vs Well
Many students make mistakes about use of good and well. In both casual speech and formal writing, we frequently have to choose between the adjective good and the adverb well. Here are some examples:
She swims well.
She is a good swimmer.
She is good at swimming.
He speaks English very well.
He is good at speaking English.
They did a good job on the test
They scored well on the test.
With most verbs, it is clear. However, when using a linking verb or a verb that has to do with the five human senses (sight, touch, hearing, smell, taste), you should use good (the adjective) instead of well. There are many linking verbs. The most common forms of linking verbs include forms of the verb to be, to become, and to seem.
He has become good at English after years of practice.
The idea seemed good at first.
The children were good at the library.
How are you? I'm feeling good, thank you.
In the spring time, the flowers smell so good.
It felt really good to get a high score on my English test.
Even after my careful paint job, this room doesn't look good.
Many writers will use well after linking verbs relating to health, and this is also correct.
How are you? I am well, thank you.
Mom, I don’t think I can go to school today. I’m not feeling well.
My grandmother isn’t doing well. She has been in the hospital for a week.
Actually, to say that you are good or that you feel good has a slightly different meaning:
- “I’m good” is a modern phrase which means “I’m happy”. For example, “Are you happy with the new teacher?” “Yes, I’m good with her.”
- When I say, “I feel good.” it usually means that I am healthy AND that my spirits are high, in other words, I’m in a good mood.
It’s story time
Now that we’ve learned a lot about adjectives, let’s see how they are used in a short story. As you read the following story, pay attention to how the adjectives are used.
Andrew woke up early every Saturday. Even though it was the weekend, today was his busiest day.
His day started with online English lessons with an American teacher on Qwyqr at 8:00. She was a pretty, young woman, and she was kind and patient. Every class, his teacher asked Andrew, “How are you this morning?” and although Andrew didn’t feel very good at the beginning of a busy Saturday, he always answered, “I’m doing well.”
Today, after his hour long English lesson, he had a terrible headache. But, after he had a snack including a delicious big red apple and a tall glass of cold mountain spring water, he felt much better.
Then it was off to his piano lesson. He studied at an old famous piano school in the center of the city. He was a really good piano player. He had won many competitive international youth piano competitions when he was younger. But, at this point, he had lost his passion for playing the piano, and it was just another event in a day full of lessons.
The class he hated most came next. He attended math class from 11:30 until 1:30 every Saturday. It was a big bright classroom with a huge beautiful LCD screen and many small wooden desks. The class didn’t really have a teacher, but two attendants who played the video and made sure the children behaved well.
After math academy, he ate a nice big bowl of hot noodles for lunch. It was a small quiet noodle shop located right across the street from his math academy.
Next, Andrew went to chess club. Andrew was a good chess player, and today he played really well. His mind was clear and sharp, and he was refreshed after his lunch. His teacher was an old Russian man who didn’t speak Chinese or English very well. However, he was truly passionate about the grand old game of chess.
Lastly, at the very end of his long hard day, he went to basketball. At this point, late in the afternoon, he never felt like playing basketball, but once he began to play, he usually had a good time. Today, just like his chess lesson, he played basketball really well. Basketball was funny because he never knew why he played well on some days or why he played poorly on other days. But today, he felt good, and almost all his shots went in.
Finally, after a long busy day, he returned home for a delicious home cooked meal. It wasn’t easy to go from lesson to lesson like that all day, but he really felt good when the day was done.
That’s the end of the lesson on adjective placement, order and good/well.
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