Discussion in 'English Only' started by slowik, May 28, 2010.
Is this correct? Or should it be the first in history picture drawn by an ape?
The original is the normal word order. If you hyphenated first-in-history to make a unit modifier, you could say it the second way -- but it would still sound peculiar.
The words 'first in history' are an adjective phrase, headed by 'first', with a dependent phrase 'in history'. In general, adjectives go before their nouns ('the first picture'), but not if they have dependents after them. This is why 'the first in history picture' sounds bad: the dependent 'in history' comes before the noun 'picture'.
If the adjective has dependents, it can stay where it is, but they have to go after the noun: 'the first picture in history'.
Why not just say "the first picture drawn by an ape?"
(unless of course you think it might be confused with the future)
Or The first picture ever drawn by an ape.
The phrase in history sounds odd and unnecessary to me.
Are you trying to say the first picture ever drawn was drawn by an ape (this took place before a human ever drew a picture) or that a picture was drawn by an ape and no other ape had drawn a picture before (humans had drawn pictures before this ape drew a picture)?
Separate names with a comma.