Adjective Word Order Activities

Instructor: Matthew Hamel

Matt has degrees in Journalism and Business and has taught a variety of courses at high schools and universities around the world.

While your students may already be familiar with adjectives, do they know the correct order to put them in when using more than one? The adjective word order activities in this lesson will instill your students with the confidence to use multiple adjectives correctly.

Adjective Order

When students are able to use adjectives correctly in their writing and speaking, they increase the clarity and effectiveness of their communications. One of the great benefits of adjectives is that because of their descriptive nature, they can add depth and meaning to a variety of statements.

At the beginning of the lesson, lay out a generally accepted order of English adjectives by writing the following information on the blackboard as you explain the key points:

  1. Quantity (two)
  2. Opinion (happy)
  3. Size (big)
  4. Physical characteristic or shape (fat)
  5. Age (young)
  6. Color (brown)
  7. Proper adjective - nationality, origin, material (American)

Put all of these adjectives together in a sentence.

  • Two happy, big, fat, young, brown, American dogs walked side-by-side down the street.

To conclude this introductory activity, ask for students to provide you with other examples of sentences that contain multiple adjectives. Also, be sure you don't erase the numbered order of the adjectives on the board because this information can be used in the next activity.

Adjective Chain

  1. Distribute several index cards to each student, and then divide the students into six groups.
  2. Assign each group a different type of adjective attribute based on the information you wrote on the blackboard in the first activity. Leave out quantity, the first type of adjective. For instance, you can assign group two the task of writing opinion adjectives on their cards and group three the task of writing size adjectives on their cards and so on.
  3. Collect one card from each group.
  4. Shuffle the cards, and then tape them in random order on the board. If students are unable to see the cards on the board, you can read the cards aloud.
  5. The students in each team should work together to figure out the correct order of the adjectives.
  6. Collect another set of cards from each team, and tape them in random order under the second set of cards. Repeat the process until all of the cards have been collected.
  7. Give the teams some time to write down what they believe to be the correct order of adjectives for each row of cards on the board.
  8. Collect each team's answers. You can also have teams come up to the board and physically rearrange the index cards into the correct adjective order.

A World Without Adjectives

  1. Have each student write a paragraph that describes his or her favorite possession. The only other requirement is that students should use at least two adjectives in the correct order before each noun.
  2. Tell students to exchange paragraphs. The receiving student should cross out all of the adjectives in his or her classmate's paragraph, and then return the paragraph to the classmate.
  3. After the student gets his or her paper back, he or she should write a clean version of the paragraph by rewriting the words and omitting the adjectives the classmate crossed out.

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