I'm wondering if you guys have any in-depth answers/links regarding:

-multiple adjectives modifying one noun (I'll go into the specifics below, I don't mean just the て form conjugations)

-order of adjectives and/or の when used in sequence

Adjective order:

  1. In English, we say “big black bear” but not “black big bear.” Is there a similar preferred order for adjectives used together to modify the same noun? If certain orders are preferred, does it have anything to do with whether the adjective is a「な」or「い」form? (ex. 静かなかわいい子 vs. かわいい静かな子) Or does it have to be 可愛静かな子?

  2. What other sentence structures/conjugations can be used to link adjectives in a relative clause to modify the same noun? (Not structures like: 彼はダサくてきもい。)

When の comes into the equation:

  1. When a lot of のs are chained together, which modifies which? (ex. In「理想の店員の態度」, does it break down into 理想の店員の態度 where “ideal” modifies “store clerk’s attitude” to mean the ideal attitude of a store clerk or into 理想の店員の態度 where “ideal store clerk” modifies “attitude” to mean the attitude of an ideal store clerk?) I know in this example it doesn’t make much of a difference, but in some cases it would, like 最初の日本の専門家 (Disregard the fact there are better ways of saying the same thing). Does that mean “the first specialists in/of Japanor “the specialists of early Japan?” Basically, is it open to interpretation or is there generally an order of which のs are considered first? such as AのBのCのD being Aの[Bの(CのD)]

  2. What about when using の and an adjective to modify the same noun? (ex. 天来の美しい歌、美しい天来の歌)

  • What's wrong with "black big bear"?
    – Tommy
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 6:13
  • 2
    ^ 日本語と違って、英語の形容詞の順番はだいたい決まってる、と学校で習いましたが、実際、どのくらい厳密なんでしょう・・ english.stackexchange.com/questions/1155/…
    – chocolate
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 12:02

1 Answer 1


We can say both 静かなかわいい子 and かわいい静かな子. かわいい and 静かな are attributive form and they modify 子(a noun). You can also say かわいく静かな子 and 静かでかわいい子 and the former adjective is 連用形(conjunctive form) and modify the adjective after it. They are all the same meaning.

理想の店員の態度 can mean two ways as you said but I feel it indicates "the ideal attitude of a store clerk." than the another. If you want to make sure the meaning of "the attitude of an ideal store clerk", it would be "理想の店員がする(行う)態度.

最初の日本の専門家 usually means “the first specialists in/of Japan” because 最初の日本 rarely means "early Japan" but 初期の日本 means it. In addition, even if you change the order of 日本の and 最初の, the meaning is the same, but you can't change the order of 日本の and 家の in 日本の家の専門家 because 家の日本 don't make sense. That is to say, when you change the order, there are the cases that the meaning didn't change like 初期の日本, there are the cases that it doesn't make sense like 日本の家 and there are the cases that the meaning changes like 英語の先生.

For example, the order of the noun can't be changed in 私の家の庭の木の下の穴(the hole under the tree in the garden of my house) because the each noun modifies a immediate noun after it.

We can say both 天来の美しい歌 and 美しい天来の歌 as the same meaning but 天来 isn't common.

  • Thanks for the explanation. I'm aware that my word choices were pretty awkward, since I just pulled some random ones out of the dictionary. So basically, something like AのBのC is technically open to interpretation based on context right? (since you said "usually means") Also, If I use て in 「広くて高いマンションだ」、 is there the same nuance of the apartment being expensive because it is big as in「うちのマンションは広くて高いです」? Just a final question: I just noticed that the formatting for quotation+question mark is kind of unnatural (」?), so is it that ? goes before 」 like it does in English to make ?」
    – user19355
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 6:30
  • The reason why I use "usually" in 最初の日本の専門家 is because I thought there may be a little people who interpret it as the another meaning. They are the same meaning even If you use て and 高い have also the meaning of "high", so 広くて高い can be understood as "wide and high". Yes, we don't write 「ご飯食べましたか」? but 「ご飯食べましたか?」. Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 6:56
  • This doesn't fully answer the question. You've addressed well the matter of な and い adjectives and the use of の. I too have wondered about adjectives for different dimensionalities such as mixing time, size, and color. In English these generally follow a specified order. In English is it preferred to say, "The big, old, red house". Other orderings of these adjectives begin to sound odd to an English ear or seem to suggest a different meaning. "The red, big house" just sounds weird. Does it matter in Japanese? For example, are both 大きく赤い家 and 赤く大きい家 equally acceptable in Japanese?
    – A.Ellett
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 3:48
  • No, it doesn't. There isn't a rule about the order of adjectives in Japanese language. About your second question, yes, they are. Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 4:20

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