This is one of those fun grammar rules that native English speakers follow without having to be taught it explicitly. Your brain will ping when it hears adjectives out of order. Several years ago, Mark Forsyth had a tweet go viral about this.

What is the royal order of ajectives?

Adjectives are words that describe (modify) nouns. And order is to put items in a sequence. Royal, well, I don’t know why this rule gets the regal treatment. But the royal order of adjectives is the order in which we list adjectives when there are multiple adjectives modifying a noun.

Beth Hill, at The Editor’s Blog, says this order (and other similar rules) are created through use and exist to create clear communication.

Nine adjective categories (that precede the noun):

Determiner: articles (a, an, the), possessives (his, hers, theirs), and numbers.

Observation: can be objective or subjective (hot, cold, tall, short, beautiful, ugly)

Physical Description: Size, Shape, Age, Color (in this order)

Origin: where something is from (American, Australian, Brazilian, Canadian)

Material: what it’s made from (aluminum, cashmere, pipe cleaners)

Qualifier: what kind of noun you’re describing (packing tape, bubblegum tape, masking tape, washi tape)


My aunt always carried an old red plastic purse.

My aunt always carried a plastic red old purse.


Tall black iron poles guarded the fort’s entrance.

Iron black tall poles guarded the fort’s entrance.


The dozen gorgeous long-stemmed orange silk flowers made the perfect centerpiece.

The orange gorgeous dozen silk long-stemmed flowers made the perfect centerpiece.

Your Turn

Give it a whirl.

Write a sentence with your adjectives scrambled and send it my way.

Or see if you can think of an exception.

Handy Dandy Chart

Because I don’t expect you to memorize this, you can print out this chart, created by Guide to Grammar.

Copyright Ayers Edits 2021