English for B2 Students/Unit 11

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Mary is wearing a beautiful, old dress[edit]

Aim of this lesson: review adjectives, look at gradable and ungradable adjectives and focus on the order that adjectives are used in sentences.

Gradable and Ungradable Adjectives[edit]

Adjectives in English can be gradable or ungradable. A gradable adjective is one which can be graded using words like 'quite' and 'very'. Ungradable adjectives can not be graded - it's not possible to say 'She is very starving' because the adjective 'starving is already a strong adjective because it means 'very hungry'.

Examples of gradable adjectives: big, small, pretty, ugly, cold, hot, tired

Examples of ungradable adjectives: enormous, tiny, stunning, hideous, freezing, boiling, exhausted (these adjectives are the ungradable forms of the above gradable adjectives, i.e. very big = enormous, etc.)

Adjective Order[edit]

We can say 'an old blue sweater' but not 'a blue old sweater'.

Adjectives must be used in a specific order.

  1. Opinion (splendid, silly)
  2. Size (big)
  3. Age (new)
  4. Shape (round)
  5. Colour (blue, blonde)
  6. Origin (Italian)
  7. Material (wool, plastic)
  8. Purpose (sleeping, heating)

When using more than one adjective use them in the above order. It's rare to use more than 2 or 3 adjectives together.

Exercises[edit]

Try putting these sentences into the correct order. The answers can be found here:

  1. I have a (striped, beautiful, new) jumper.
  2. She has (black, long, curly) hair.