a big mouth-watering cake

NewAmerica

Senior Member
Mandarin
Which sounds natural in English?

(1) a big mouth-watering cake
(2) a mouth-watering big cake
(3) mouth-watering a big cake


I guess (2) is most natural. Am I on the right track?

Thanks in advance
 
  • Dretagoto

    Senior Member
    Inglés británico
    Yes, 1 is the most natural, 2 is passable, but the adjective of big sounds better before mouth-watering.

    And 3) is just funny - I now have a clear mental image of a person standing above a cake, slack-jawed, while saliva slowly pours out of their mouth onto the cake. The dangers of a slight change of order and the addition of an article :D:rolleyes:

    (But please don't think I'm making fun of you, I mean this good-naturedly).
     

    NewAmerica

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    (1) is the most natural-sounding. (2) is okay. (3) is so bad it's funny (sorry!).
    The reason I chose (2) is based on BBC:

    “Adjectives in English absolutely have to be in this order: opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose Noun. So you can have a lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife. But if you mess with that word order in the slightest you’ll sound like a maniac. It’s an odd thing that every English speaker uses that list, but almost none of us could write it out.”

    -BBC

    Source
    I took "mouth-watering" as an opinion and so it should be put before size.
     

    Dretagoto

    Senior Member
    Inglés británico
    "Adjectives in English absolutely have to be in this order". That almost makes me angry - they absolutely do not (my anger is at the BBC, not you, of course). That is guidance, not an incontrovertible rule. And I assure you that every English speaker does not use that list.

    There was actually a thread on here very recently about London being a "big, busy, city" - following that rule, it should have been "busy, big, city" but to me, and many other forum members, that just sounds very unnatural.

    "Mouth-watering" could be an opinion (incidentally, the reason 3 sounds so funny is because you have changed it from an adjective to a verb :p), I suppose conceivably it could be a purpose. But either way, to me, and to lingobingo, having "big" in first position sounds by far the most natural.
     

    NewAmerica

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    "Adjectives in English absolutely have to be in this order". That almost makes me angry - they absolutely do not (my anger is at the BBC, not you, of course). That is guidance, not an incontrovertible rule. And I assure you that every English speaker does not use that list.

    There was actually a thread on here very recently about London being a "big, busy, city" - following that rule, it should have been "busy, big, city" but to me, and many other forum members, that just sounds very unnatural.

    "Mouth-watering" could be an opinion (incidentally, the reason 3 sounds so funny is because you have changed it from an adjective to a verb :p), I suppose conceivably it could be a purpose. But either way, to me, and to lingobingo, having "big" in first position sounds by far the most natural.
    :):thumbsup:
     

    Dretagoto

    Senior Member
    Inglés británico
    Just one note, NewAmerica, and why that suggested order is only guidance, and will perhaps help you - changing the order of the adjectives can change which characteristics you want to emphasise. Both of your suggestions 1 and 2 are grammatical, but one puts more emphasis on the size of the cake, and the other on its mouth-watering nature.
     

    NewAmerica

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    Just one note, NewAmerica, and why that suggested order is only guidance, and will perhaps help you - changing the order of the adjectives can change which characteristics you want to emphasise. Both of your suggestions 1 and 2 are grammatical, but one puts more emphasis on the size of the cake, and the other on its mouth-watering nature.
    This is useful.
     
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