a long narrow dark corridor

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phiesta

Senior Member
Russian
a long narrow dark corridor

I remember about the rule:
OPINION - SIZE - AGE - SHAPE - COLOUR - ORIGIN - MATERIAL - PURPOSE

But I wonder is narrow can be judges as shape or

long - size
narrow - size (?) or shape
dark - colour

Are there any mistakes in my phrase?
 
  • estudiante2102

    Member
    English/French/Spanish/Russian
    Narrow can't really define shape- more size. Long defines length. Dark can define color (colour) or it can be a quality or atmosphere.

    Hope this helps!

    ~Elizabeth
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    It has to be long narrow, narrow long won't work.
    (Narrow defines shape, to me.)

    So where do you put dark?

    In real life, I can't imagine writing either long, narrow, dark corridor or dark long, narrow corridor - but the former is better.
     

    LouisaB

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    I had no idea there even was this rule!!:eek:
    I am clearly a Philistine....

    Do we know who actually came up with this rule, and what great literature they're responsible for? It must be something pretty amazing to justify being as prescriptive as this...:)

    Mind you, it's not as daft as I first thought, because a number of common phrases do seem to support it - eg no-one would say a 'fat, big cat', they'd always say a 'big, fat cat'.

    Yet what becomes of 'a tall, dark, handsome stranger?' Surely 'handsome' is the opinion, but who would phrase this the other way round?
    Or an expression like 'he's a skinny little thing'? Surely the shape there is coming before the size?

    Is it possible (heresy, heresy) that we tend to go more by sound (eg the rhyme and alliteration of 'fat cat') or by metre (never follow a trochee with a monosyllable, hence NO to 'narrow dark' and indeed to 'handsome dark')? Could it be we're using some sense other than a strict rule?

    Grovelling in self-confessed ignorance,

    LouisaB
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Louisa:
    Grovel not.
    It appears that students of English from non-English backgrounds are taught this kind of thing.
    Those of us who absorbed English with mothers' milk are expected to know it by instinct - and generally speaking we do. I mean, for example, would you ever wear a black short dress? And I know that lycra big shorts are out of the question completely

    The scary thing is that you do it entirely by instinct. And of course you know how many adjectives in a row will be too many, whether that happens to be two or three is irrelevant. You just know.

    Tall dark handsome strangers are available only to native-speakers - sshhhh.
     

    LouisaB

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    So I'm not actually ignorant at all, just naturally brilliant? Fantastic. Wonderful post. Best I've seen in years.

    But truly, it is scary. I've been trying out phrases for the last half hour, and the rule works in about 90% of cases. Weird.

    Now feeling six-foot tall and very big-headed - and definitely in that order...

    LouisaB
     
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