English adjective order

We have three cats or, to be anthropomorphic, three cats have decided to live with us. They promote much discussion for our students. All three are pets (animal de compagnie) and we appreciate their different characteristics and appearances (apparences). Those who are not ‘cat people’ (but are ‘dog people’) do not appreciate the enormous differences in cat personality.

MaudePollyTrappy
MaudePollyTrappy

Maude is a greedy (vorace), lazy (indolent(e)), old, white and orange thing. Trappy (named after Trapeharde) lives outside and is an independent, small, black and brown cat. Polly is an affectionate (affectueux), energetic, pretty, young cat. To us, they have distinct personalities, but that is our opinion. That their appearances are different is irrefutable.

In each of the descriptions you will notice that our opinion is the first adjective used (the furthest from the noun). The factual (factuel) adjectives, describing size, age and colour, follow the opinion in strict order.

The order of adjectives in English is as follows:

opinion + size + age + shape + colour + material + origin + purpose
+ the noun

So Maude is a greedy (vorace), lazy (indolent(e)), old, white and orange French thing. Trappy (named after Trapeharde) lives outside and is an independent, small, black and brown southern cat. Polly is an affectionate (affectueux), energetic, pretty, young European cat.

We don’t often use all categories in a description of something, but if we were to describe Trappy, she would be an independent, small, middle-aged, slim, black and brown, silky, southern, hunting cat.

Adjectives in the English language do have an order and, as it is different from the order in the French language, learning it can be difficult. Repetition of use, describing everyday objects and practice, practice make English language learning easier, especially if you like cats.

~ a pretty, little, black, French cat ~
~ un petit, chat noir, français ~

January 2012 - July 2012

Well, we began this article on adjectives by saying that we have three cats. Sadly, we no longer have Polly: she died under tragic circumstances in January.

However, in May we welcomed two new kittens, Bella and Biff, a sister and brother pair. They are settling in very nicely and everybody adores them - except for Maude!

Bella and Biff, sleeping not playing !
Bella and Biff, sleeping not playing !

Biff is the larger one of the two and he is black and white. Bella is the smaller of the two and she is white and brown with tiger stripes.