Session 1

Have you ever moved home or from a building you loved? In 2012, the BBC World Service left its home at Bush House to move to a new building. In this session, you'll hear BBC staff remembering our emotional move and learn some useful vocabulary to talk about experiences like this.

Sessions in this unit

Session 1 score

0 / 7

  • 0 / 7
    Activity 1
  • 0 / 0
    Activity 2
  • 0 / 0
    Activity 3

Activity 3

6 Minute Vocabulary

Adjective order

So in this session we've heard all about Bush House, where the BBC World Service broadcast until 2012. They talked about working at Bush House and what they liked and didn't like about it. Yuri Goligorsky, who has worked for the Russian Service, talked about the carpets. He said they were worn out and undignified. This means they're probably old as well.

But how would we use these adjectives with the noun carpet? Which of these has the correct adjective order?

  • old, worn-out, undignified carpets
  • worn-out, undignified, old carpets
  • undignified, old, worn-out carpets

Listen to 6 Minute Vocabulary, and you'll also hear about adjectives you could use to describe this dog!

Listen to the audio

Show transcript Hide transcript

Finn
Hello and welcome to 6 Minute Vocabulary with me Finn...

Catherine
And me Catherine. And today's show is all about adjective order.

Finn
Adjectives - yes, those useful words we use to describe things. We'll look at what adjective order is - and how to use it.

Catherine
There'll be a nice, easy quiz...

Finn
And we'll leave you with a small, but meaningful tip for learning vocabulary.

Catherine
So: let's start off with Nikki and Joe who are talking in a furniture shop.

Finn
Here's a question to think about while you listen: what did Nikki's grandparents have?

Catherine
What did Nikki's grandparents have? Let's find out.

INSERT

Nikki
Joe! Come and sit on this sofa!

Joe
It's really uncomfortable.

Nikki
I know... but I've always wanted a big, old, leather sofa. My grandparents had one when I was little.

Joe
That's not a good reason to buy a horrible sofa! The one with the stripy blue cotton cushions looks a lot nicer.

Nikki
Maybe... Ooh what's this... Look, a beautiful green and blue Turkish kilim!

Joe
Kilim? Oh, a little carpet. Sofas first, Nikki.

Finn
So, that's Joe and Nikki. And we asked you: what did Nikki's grandparents have?

Catherine
And the answer is: they had a big, old, leather sofa.

Finn
That's right. And the phrase a big, old, leather sofa is our first example of adjective order.

Catherine
Now, when we use two or more adjectives together to describe a noun, the order we put them in is important. For example, we don't usually say an old, leather, big sofa.

Finn
So for our sofa example, first it's size - so big, then age - old, and then material - leather. A big, old, leather sofa. 

Catherine
So that's size, age, and material type. And each new adjective in the list needs to go in the right place.

Finn
For example, colour goes between age and material type. So we can say: a big, old, red, leather sofa.

Catherine
Now some people find it difficult to remember the adjective order...

Finn
But there's a good tip which is: the adjective with the meaning most closely related to the noun goes nearest to it.

Catherine
And in our example, the material type - leather - is most closely connected to the noun. Big, old and red are more general. So: big, old, red, leather sofa. Another one please, Finn?

Finn
Blue stripy cotton cushions.

Catherine
So colour - blue, quality - stripy, and material type - cotton. Blue stripy cotton cushions.

Finn
And Nikki got very excited about a beautiful green and blue Turkish kilim.

Catherine
Did she? I can understand that.

Finn
Yes. So it's a beautiful green and blue Turkish kilim. There we had opinion: beautiful, and then colours: green and blue, we had two colours joined by 'and', and then country: Turkish.

IDENT
You're listening to BBC Learning English.

Finn
And we're talking about adjective order. And you might have noticed that we used some adjectives at the beginning of the programme.

Catherine
We had nice, easy quiz - with two opinion adjectives. Easy has a closer connection to the noun quiz than nice. So we put easy next to the noun. A nice easy quiz.

Finn
A nice, easy quiz. And another one: a small, but meaningful tip.

Catherine
We can put 'but' between adjectives when they seem a bit unusual next to each other. Like small, but meaningful.

Finn
Strange, but true, eh, Catherine?

Catherine
Indeed. Nothing strange about vocabulary. So let's hear today's examples again. First, size, age, colour, and material.

Finn
Big, old, red, leather sofa.

Catherine
And leather has the strongest connection to the noun. Next, colour, quality, and material.

Finn
Blue stripy cotton cushions.

Catherine
And opinion, colour, and country.

Finn
Beautiful green and blue Turkish kilim.

Catherine
Right. And now it's quiz time. Put these adjectives in the right order. Number 1. I love my ... old, smelly, big dog.

Finn
Right: I love my big, old, smelly dog.

Catherine
Good. Number 2. This is a ... Moroccan, simple, but delicious recipe.

Finn
This is a simple, but delicious, Moroccan recipe.

Catherine
Very good. And that brings us almost to the end of the programme.

Finn
But before we go, here's that tip we promised you, and it's a game this time. Now, this is a game to play with a friend to practise describing things. Think of a noun but don't tell your friend what it is. Then give adjective clues to help them guess the noun.

Catherine
Good game. Do you want to play?

Finn
Let's give it a go.

Catherine
Brilliant. There's more about this at bbclearningenglish.com. Join us again for more 6 Minute Vocabulary.

Both
Goodbye!

So, to describe the carpets in Bush House we should say they are undignified, old, worn-out carpets. This is because the adjective order is opinion first, then age and then quality.

And it's a big, old, smelly dog!

Downloads

You can download 6 Minute Vocabulary from our Unit 12 Downloads page (size 8.49MB). Remember, you can also subscribe to the podcast version.

Vocabulary points to take away

Adjective order can be tricky, so it's useful to note down some examples. Writing adjectives before a noun, separated by categories, can be a good way to help you to remember the order. Here are some examples:

Size - age - colour - material:

A big old red leather sofa

Opinion - colour - material: 

Some lovely pink and white silk curtains

Size - age - quality:

A big old smelly dog

You can find more examples in the transcript download for this 6 Minute Vocabulary. Click here to download it (size: 325KB)

 

End of Session

That's it for Session 1. We hope you enjoyed hearing about an important BBC building. In the next session we'll start to look at the grammar we can use to talk about these experiences: the present perfect with the words for and since. And we'll hear from two current employees of the BBC World Service. See you then!

Session Vocabulary

  • leather
    a material made from the skin of a dead animal

    sofa
    a type of seat with a back and arms, big enough for two or more people

    kilim
    a type of carpet or rug made in Turkey and surrounding areas

    stripy
    striped, patterned with stripes

    cotton
    a type of fabric made from fibers that grow on cotton plants

    recipe
    a set of instructions for preparing a dish, including the ingredients needed