Saturday, January 14, 2017

Adjective order in English

I was making a "funny" Facebook post about how, in action movies, what looks to me like simple chiropractic neck adjustments always manage to kill the adjustee.

And that made me think about the correct ordering of English adjectives: "a simple chiropractic neck adjustment" is the right order. A native speaker will not say, "a chiropractic simple neck adjustment," or "a neck simple chiropractic adjustment."

Similarly, we walk into "large, green room", and not a "green, large room."

These "rules" are ust about automatic for native speakers. But there not very easy to make explicit, and I have never seen them taught.

4 comments:

  1. According to this writer, http://www.grammar.cl/english/adjectives-word-order.htm , the order normally is “opinion, size, shape, condition, age, color, pattern, origin [German, Greek, etc.], material, and purpose.”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Joe!
      Yes, my point is not that it is impossible to make the rule explicit, but that most of us do this without ever having encountered the rule.

      Delete
    2. "A crappy little round chipped old green striped English china coffee cup."

      I think some rearrangements would not sound too bad, such as switching "little" and "crappy" or "striped" and "green."

      Delete
  2. Yes, it's only taught to ESL students explicitly. It's unconscious for native speakers.

    ReplyDelete

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