The correct order for a row of adjectives modifying a noun
It happens often that two adjectives or even several adjectives are used to describe a noun. With more than one adjective in a row, there is a specific order for this group of adjectives to follow.
 
The following shows categories of adjectives in the correct order in which they are used to describe a noun.
 
Determiner – We normally begin a sentence of this nature with a determiner. The determiner can be an article (a, an, the), a demonstrative adjective (this, that, these, those), a possessive adjective (my, your, his, her, its, our, their) or an amount. 
Observation/Opinion – beautiful, best, dirty, funny, sweet, ugly, worthless
Size – big, large, small, huge, short, thick, 2-foot-long
Age* -- aged, elderly, new, 6-year-old, senior, young, youthful   
Shape – circular, flat, oblong, oval, round, square, triangular
Colour – blue, emerald, green, orange, red, violet, yellow
Origin/Location – African, British, Chinese, Hawaiian, Japanese, Roman, Surinamese (It tells us where the noun comes from)
Material – bronze, gold, plastic, silk, silver, steel, wooden  
Qualifier/purpose – It can be a noun (garden tool) or verb (used car) acting as an adjective.
(*Sometimes, age comes after shape.)
 
 
Coordinate adjective
Coordinate adjectives are adjectives that are equally important in describing a noun, without one of them outranking the others, and they are separated by a comma or commas.
 
To know if the adjectives used in a sentence are coordinate so that a comma is used between them, reverse the order of the adjectives or use the word and to separate the two adjectives. If they make sense, they are coordinate and a comma is required.  
 

Example:

  • He is a highly qualified, experienced doctor.
  • He is an experienced, highly qualified doctor.
  • He is a highly qualified and experienced doctor.

 (Both make sense, which means both adjectives are of equal importance (coordinate) and a comma is used.) 

 

 
 

Example:

Three or more coordinate adjectives 

When there are three or more coordinate adjectives, separate the adjectives with commas and the last two adjectives with the word and

  • She bought him a yellow, brown and red cap.
  • There were round, square and oval birthday cakes on sale at the bakery. 

No commas are required to separate non-coordinate adjectives that belong to different categories of adjectives. The adjectives are shown in bold. 

  • This beautiful large 10-year-old red-coloured Russian-designed wooden summer house is for sale.

    (Summer is a noun acting as an adjective modifying the noun house.)

  • She inherited that light yellowish-brown wicker cat basket from her grandmother, who used to keep a playful small black cat. 

    (Wicker and cat are nouns acting as modifying adjectives.) 

 

 

Example:

Coordinate and non-coordinate adjectives

Coordinate and non-coordinate adjectives may exist in a single sentence.

  • The items he bought included a reasonably-priced, imported glass wine jug. 

    (Reasonably-priced and imported are coordinate adjectives as they can exchange places, and the word and can replace the comma. The other two adjectives glass and wine are non-coordinate because and cannot be placed between them or between imported and glass.)

  • The funny, clumsy clown soon appeared, dressed in clothes with red and yellow polka dots

 

 

Examples:

If adjectives in a sentence come after the verb be (is, are, etc.), the qualifier adjective (an adjective that qualifies the meaning of a noun and is accepted as part of the noun) will accompany the noun at the beginning of the sentence. The qualifier adjective does not need to be an adjective: summer, for example, in the following example sentences. More examples: garden gate, sandwich box, kitchen table, fish farm (all the words in bold are not adjectives; they are nouns but act as adjectives).

  • Correct: This summer house is beautiful, small, 10-year-old, red-coloured, Russian designed and wooden.
  • Incorrect: This house is beautiful, small, 10-year-old, red-coloured, Russian designed and wooden and summer.