Adjective Order

Purpose: To give intermediate level learners an opportunity to understand and practice correct adjective order in English

Preparation Time:  10-20 minutes

Materials:  large flash cards for sequencing activity (see explanation below)

Preparation:  The presentation about adjective order can easily be done on the board, by using the table below, but you could also create a handout if desired.

Procedure:

I do it:

Introduce the new grammar by asking students to provide examples of adjectives and use

them in sentences.

Once you’re reviewed what adjectives are and where they are placed in relation to nouns,

explain that it’s common, in English, to use more than one adjective before a noun.

Provide some examples, such as “I drive an old blue truck” or “He lives on a beautiful

Pacific island”. You could also elicit additional examples from your students.

When we use more than one adjective, there is a specific order to follow. The attached

chart shows this order.

With help from the students, fill in the table with examples of adjectives in each category.  This will also clarify that students understand the headings of each category.

Spend a bit more time on opinion adjectives if students have difficulty identifying them.  Here are some examples of opinion adjectives: dangerous, difficult, dirty, expensive, favorite, good, happy, honest, important, interesting, strong, wonderful, beautiful.  Give lots of examples and elicit them, too.

We do it:

Write a noun on the board, followed by three adjectives.  Have the students decide on the correct order of the adjectives.  For example:       

table - glass, dining, new

house - stone, old, grey

food - Thai, delicious

student - young, serious, handsome

Write numbers over the words to indicate order, based on input from the learners, or ask students to come to the board and do it.

You do it:

Using flash cards prepared ahead of time, groups of students sequence sentences containing series of adjectives.  Students in each group agree on the order amongst themselves, then stand facing the other students, holding the flash cards, while observers agree or disagree and make suggestions.

Examples of sentences:          Our teacher is wearing a blue cotton sweatshirt.

                                                Who is driving the new blue Toyota?

Variations:

  • Ask learners to write their own sentences using at least three adjectives.  These sentences can then be used for a student-led dictation later.
  • Just for fun, write a sentence together as a group that has an adjective from each category in it.
  • For beginning level, introduce only 2 or 3 categories and practice with those.  Size and color or shape and age are probably the easiest.  Make sure to use nouns that are already familiar to your learners.
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