Adjective order mismatch [long blonde curly hair]

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New Member
Latin-american spanish
Hello, I´m very pleased to post my first enquiry!. Well, to begin with, I am a Teacher Of English as a foreign language. I give private, in company and High School classes. As I was giving a High School class on the topic "adjective order", I found a difference of opinion about grammar in two differents books of the same publishing house, second and third year of high school. The first book (second year) tells as correct " She has a beautiful long blonde curly hair...... and the second book (third year) differs by telling " She has a beautiful long curly blonde hair" as correct. My third year students rebuked my teachings to be incorrect as they learnt from me (during the former year), that the first statement was the right one according to grammar rules...... Well, actually I agree with them! but they are in third year at present and in High School I must give the class by the book!

According to " The Royal Order of Adjectives", the phrase "she has a beautiful long curly blonde hair" would be the correct one.... By the way, in the Royal Order they mention "shape" as one of the categories whereas the book talks about "style". It is there, in the "style" column where both grammar books include "curly"..........For me, shape and style refer to the same thing within this context and should be positioned accordingly.

So please, which one is right? ..... The first statement, that sounds nicer to my ears and that certainly is printed on a grammar book to top it all!, or the second one?..... Strictly speaking, does it make any real difference to use either one in the real world?........ but AHA!!! My students are still waiting for my response........ Thanks a lot in advance for your reply
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  • morior_invictus

    Senior Member
    Welcome to the forum, karamazovx3. :)
    I would say that "size" (long) and "shape" (curly) should precede a hair "color" (blonde), so "...a long curly blonde hair."

    Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    Hello karamazovx3, and Welcome to the Forum! :)

    She has a beautiful long blonde curly hair.
    She has a beautiful long curly blonde hair.

    I think that I'd probably say the former, but I strongly suspect that if I heard the latter, I wouldn't even notice. I know we've discussed this a number of times here. It always seems to be about hair. :)


    Senior Member
    English - British
    Unfortunately, the quoted sentences indicate that one single strand of hair is under discussion ('a hair').
    It is probable that the lady had more than one.
    We normally say 'hair' (not 'a hair') to mean the natural growth covering the head.


    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Hello karamozovx3,

    I don't have a strong reaction to the order in either of the sentences, nor anything helpful to say about that.

    However, here are some previous threads that may be useful.

    I think that the useful thing you will notice in these discussions is that native speakers do not always use the same order. You can tell your students that native speakers disagree just as your books do. They should learn the order as a useful guide, and this year they should follow the order of this year's book, but in real life, they will hear people doing it both ways.

    (You have very alert students, to notice the discrepancy. You must be teaching them well. :))

    Edit: I just now changed the titles to include long curly hair, etc, so no one should feel embarrassed about not having found them earlier.
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    New Member
    Bahasa Indonesia - English
    Just curious...., wouldn't it be correct if "I have long blonde curly hair" than "long curly blonde hair"? The shape/style comes after the color. Also, as in for the size (long) and shape (curly) shouldn't be referred as the same thing. Coz when compared talking about eyes, isn't better to say "I have green slanted eyes" (color first, then comes the shape/style) than "slanted green eyes"? So to sum' up my question...., shouldn't the best adjectives order be "sizes - colors - shapes/styles"? Thank you.


    Senior Member
    Just curious...., wouldn't it be correct if "I have long blonde curly hair" than "long curly blonde hair"?
    This is certainly possible. As Cagey noted, there is no consensus about the exact order of several adjectives in a string. This is particularly true for adjectives like "curly" that don't fit exactly into the "shape" category of that 'Royal Order' that Paul linked to. However, that Royal Order is a good summary of ordinary word order.

    I'd be more likely to say "long curly blonde hair", but I can't tell you that "long blonde curly hair" is wrong. This version doesn't sound like an improvement to me, but I probably wouldn't notice which word order you used in a conversation. "Curly long blonde hair" is also possible.

    However, we natives do ordinarily place some adjectives before others. If you told me that you saw "a red little Corvette", this word order would sound strange to me.
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