adjective rules (bright green scarf)

Discussion in 'English Only' started by rich7, Nov 28, 2008.

  1. rich7 Senior Member

    caracas
    Venezuela español
    What are the differences in the order of adjectives? what are the rules? where can I read about it?

    Example of my question:

    Is the same "bright green scarf" and "green bright scarf" or even "bright-green scarf" or green-bright scarf?

    Thanks in advance...
     
  2. envie de voyager Senior Member

    Niagara Falls, Canada
    english-canadian
    Green is describing scarf, so green goes right before scarf. Bright is descibing green, so it goes right before green.
     
  3. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
  4. rich7 Senior Member

    caracas
    Venezuela español
    Thanks a lot for this info, but what about hyphenated adjectives?
     
  5. We don't hyphenate double adjectives as a rule.
     
  6. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    A hyphenated adjective is one adjective. It is placed according to the same rules.

    Are you asking which order the words come in a hyphenated adjective?
    It depends which word is modifying the other.
    Do you have an example?
     
  7. rich7 Senior Member

    caracas
    Venezuela español
    These for instance,

    The round glass table (NOT the glass round table): this one is pretty clear.

    A big, modern brick house (NOT a modern, big brick house):in this one what happens if I take out the comma.

    Long, flexible steel poles: same case.

    A tall, ancient oak-tree: in this one the comma and the hyphen??
     
  8. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Oak-tree behaves as a noun, as if the hyphen were not there.
    Punctuation styles vary.
    I would normally put a comma after each adjective except the last provided that the adjectives were independent.
    See THIS LINK for more on the topic.
    You will find more useful links in the sticky thread at the top of the forum - in the useful links section.
     
  9. AngelEyes

    AngelEyes Senior Member

    English - United States
    Maybe you're asking about coordinate and hierarchical adjectives. I think there are already some threads here on the Forum on this subject.

    THIS explains it, too.

    AngelEyes
     
  10. Aardvark01

    Aardvark01 Senior Member

    Midlands, England
    British English (Midlands)
    The order of adjectives follows this pattern:

    Opinion, size, age, shape, colour, origin, material, purpose

    A nice green scarf = opinion + colour + object
    A thick, bright-green wooly scarf = size + colour + material + scarf

    'bright' is part of the colour, modifying it, and it goes before the adjective it modifies:
    The Doctor wore a very long, many-coloured scarf = size + colour + scarf:tick:

    We would not say:
    ...a long very, coloured-many scarf.:cross:

    http://web2.uvcs.uvic.ca/elc/studyzone/410/grammar/adjord.htm
     
  11. rich7 Senior Member

    caracas
    Venezuela español
    Good tip Angel, Now I'm getting a hold of it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2008
  12. rich7 Senior Member

    caracas
    Venezuela español
    Thanks Aardvark01 for these examples,

    A nice green scarf = opinion + colour + object
    A thick, bright-green wooly scarf = size + colour + material + scarf

    So, according to what I've read so far, and using this example, Can we say?:

    "bright-green, thick wooly scarf" or even bright-green and thick wooly scarf
     
  13. Aardvark01

    Aardvark01 Senior Member

    Midlands, England
    British English (Midlands)
    Both sound fine to me, even though they don't put colour and size (thick) in the order the rule suggests. 'Thick' reads like an appropriate description of 'wooly' ie. the wool is thick.

    There are exercises on this subject in the link provided in my previous post. See the bottom of that web page.
     
  14. greenheyes Senior Member

    Spain
    British English (Cheshire)
    rich7. I´ve made up a kind of e-mail address to help my pupils remember this.

    osas.com ......Opinion,Size,Age, Shape, Colour; Origin, Material. It works quite well!
     
  15. langzot Member

    Antwerp, Flanders, Belgium
    English - Midwest USA
    Actually, I spoke to a linguist not too long ago who mentioned that English adjectival patterns are determined by the mutability of the characteristic being described. For example, we say "a big, old house," but not "an old, big house." The more mutable the adjective, the closer it is to the noun. Here, however, I agree that "bright" modifies "green" and not the scarf.
     
  16. Aardvark01

    Aardvark01 Senior Member

    Midlands, England
    British English (Midlands)
    That's very handy greenheyes, I wish I'd thought of that!
     
  17. AngelEyes

    AngelEyes Senior Member

    English - United States
    This is interesting, langzot. I'm not clear on the precise meaning of mutable here.

    Mutable, to me, means adaptable but that doesn't seem to apply in this case. Could you please write a little more explanation?


    greenheyes: this is good.
    .

    I've never even stopped to analyze - other than logical thought and common sense - how I stack my adjectives in front of a noun.

    AngelEyes
     
  18. langzot Member

    Antwerp, Flanders, Belgium
    English - Midwest USA
    mutable: subject or liable to change or alteration. (according to Random House Unabridged Dictionary)

    For example, "big, old house." The size of the house will remain the same. Not really mutable. The house grows older by the second, however. Extremely mutable.

    At least, this is my interpretation, of course.
     
  19. AngelEyes

    AngelEyes Senior Member

    English - United States
    Okay...now I understand you! :)

    Thanks.

    AngelEyes
     
  20. rich7 Senior Member

    caracas
    Venezuela español
    Thanks to all who have contributed to the better understanding of this issue.
     
  21. mallujulia Senior Member

    Spain Spanish
    When I studied English I always remember the sentence my teacher made me study by heart. It was:
    Very Soon A Train SHould COMe.
    This makes me remember we start with:
    Value Size Age Temperature Shape Colour Origin and the Material something is made of.
    Hope it helps
     
  22. Aardvark01

    Aardvark01 Senior Member

    Midlands, England
    British English (Midlands)
    So we could say:
    This is not just a hamburger, it's a £17.85, 20-lb, matured, piping hot, round bun, dark barbequed, 85% prime English ham hamburger.

    Sounds about right to me
     
  23. rich7 Senior Member

    caracas
    Venezuela español
    I would say no commas, isn't it?
     
  24. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Explain please.
     
  25. rich7 Senior Member

    caracas
    Venezuela español
    Well, according to what I have read on this issue, coordinated adjectives use commas among them because they can be placed interchangeable so commas can be used.

    The pianist played a beautiful, haunting melody or The pianist played a beautiful and haunting melody. Also, The pianist played a haunting, beautiful melody.

    But if you cannot change the order, they are non coordinated adjectives, right? so no commas are needed.
     
  26. rich7 Senior Member

    caracas
    Venezuela español
    By the way, was this question wrongfully asked?
     
  27. rich7 Senior Member

    caracas
    Venezuela español
    By the way, was this question wrongfully asked?

    I mean, should it be like this:

    I would say no commas are needed, aren't they
     
  28. Aardvark01

    Aardvark01 Senior Member

    Midlands, England
    British English (Midlands)
    Beautiful and haunting are only interchangeable because they are both in the same category, opinions. The order only applies where other categories come into play and these are seperated by commas or 'and' as with lists in general:

    A beautiful, haunting, ancient Breton melody.

    Ancient and Breton are in the categories of age and origin, which follow the established rule of order: Opinion + Age + Origin. We would not move them to precede the opinion:
    Ancient Breton, haunting and beautiful melody

    Note: Ancient coordinates Breton so has no comma to seperate the words.
     
  29. rich7 Senior Member

    caracas
    Venezuela español
    So a question rises, are all these in the same category?
     
  30. Aardvark01

    Aardvark01 Senior Member

    Midlands, England
    British English (Midlands)
    These are the categories:
    (Opinion) Value, size, age, temperature, shape, colour, origin and the material something is made of.

    Match the colours to the categories thus:

    This is not just a hamburger, it's a (tasty,) £17.85, 20-lb, matured, piping hot, round bun, dark barbequed, 85% prime English ham hamburger.

    Notice that commas are omitted between adjectives/nouns which qualify or coordinate the descriptors within a category:

    Not just hot but but 'piping hot'. 'Piping' means: hot as though straight from the grill.

    Round bun = adjective + noun: meaning the burger is round so that it will fit into a round bun.

    Dark barbequed = Adjective + adjective: The meat has been cooked until it is a dark or burned colour.

    85% prime English ham = two categories but they are not seperated by a comma (or 'and') because the origin (England) coordinates the material (ham). That is, the ham is from an English farm and 85% is the proportion of ham to other ingredients.
     
  31. xzeny New Member

    French
    On the same topic, which category would you say the adjective SILENT belongs to?

    For example:

    Where can SILENT be inserted in this sentence:

    A beautiful expensive big long old blue Japanese Titanium sports car.


    Also, does EXPENSIVE belong to the value category or to the opinion category? Because if it is an opinion, then BIG, LONG and OLD could also be seen as a matter of opinion.

    Thanks for your help because I'm a little confused.
     
  32. Aardvark01

    Aardvark01 Senior Member

    Midlands, England
    British English (Midlands)
    Welcome to the forum xzeny.
    As a native English speaker I would put 'silent' in either the first position (as an opinion) OR before 'Japanese'. I am saying this intuitively rather than offering a rule at this point. It will be interesting to see what other native speakers think.

    A silent, beautiful, expensive, big, long, old, blue Japanese Titanium sports car.
    OR
    A beautiful, expensive, big, long, old, blue, silent Japanese Titanium sports car.

    It is true that some of the categories can also be considered as opinions, however the order of adjectives is intuitive to native speakers, the rules are worked out as a guide for learners.
     
  33. xzeny New Member

    French
    Thanks for your help Aardvark01 and for welcoming me to the forum.

    Given your answer it seems that SILENT does not comply with the rule.

    I'd be curious to know what other people think too.
     
  34. bambina-in-nero

    bambina-in-nero Senior Member

    Firenze
    Italian
    I'm sorry if i step in: would that be possible to find all those adjectives together in English?
     
  35. JamesM

    JamesM Senior Member

    I would say it's unlikely but not impossible.
     
  36. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    I think you would find it helpful to look at the link in AngelEyes' post 9, xzeny. Sometimes, the order of adjectives is entirely flexible: a beautiful, silent sports car is just as good as a silent, beautiful sports car.
     

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