order of adjectives (old physics teacher)

eli7

Senior Member
Persian (Farsi)
Greetings,

In the subject of "order of adjectives" there is a rule. In such cases the usual pattern is as follows:
determiner+quality+size+color+nationality+material+noun. For example: "He bought a large white cotton shirt."

But in the example: "The old physics teacher was very excited."
I do not understand why old precedes "physics" and which category "physics" belongs to? Is it a quality adjective?

Regards
 
  • Ma_linka

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Physics techer is permanent, old can vary (he could be a young teacher, old describes the techer), that is why old precedes physics.
     

    Ma_linka

    Senior Member
    Russian
    OPINIONAPPEARANCEAGECOLORORIGINMATERIAL
    good
    bad
    beautiful
    ugly
    smart
    dumb
    usually follows this order:

    size/measure
    big
    small
    high
    low

    shape
    round
    circular
    square

    condition
    broken
    cracked
    ripped
    fresh
    rotten
    new
    antique
    old
    young
    two-year-old*
    red
    purple
    pink
    dark green
    navy blue
    Korean
    Chinese
    French
    Italian
    American
    iron
    brass
    cotton
    gold
    wooden
    vegetable

     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    "Physics" does not belong in any of these categories because it is a noun, not an adjective.

    In English we often stick two nouns together. We sometimes call the first a "noun modifier"; Wikipedia calls it a "noun adjunct". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noun_adjunct

    The combination "noun adjunct + noun" forms a new long noun for every purpose except spelling: for example, "physics teacher" is pronounced as a four-syllable noun, with the main stress on the first syllable only.
     
    Last edited:

    eli7

    Senior Member
    Persian (Farsi)
    Thanks se16teddy.
    So can I conclude that "if there is a noun which plays the role of an adjective and some other adjectives, that is the noun modifier which sticks to the noun and comes as the last adjective?
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Thanks se16teddy.
    So can I conclude that "if there is a noun which plays the role of an adjective and some other adjectives, that is the noun modifier which sticks to the noun and comes as the last adjective?
    Yes, I can't immediately think of any exceptions!

    I suppose there must be some cases where it is tricky to determine whether an element is a noun or an adjective, but physics is not one of these!
     
    Last edited:

    Ma_linka

    Senior Member
    Russian
    So can I conclude that "if there is a noun which plays the role of an adjective and some other adjectives, that is the noun modifier which sticks to the noun and comes as the last adjective?
    I think so. This is what I tried to call "permanent", but I think se16teddy has already explained.
    A noun functions as an adjective when it procedes a noun that it modifies, for example, English teacher. Nouns as adjectives are always placed before the second noun in a sentence which they describe.
     
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    Ma_linka

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I am sure you know this, but I just thought these examples were useful:
    opinion size age shape colour origin material
    lovely big old triangular white Italian wooden

    An opinion adjective would occur before a shape or colour adjective, and a shape or colour adjective would occur before a material adjective, e.g.:

    a beautiful green silk dress

    I also found a rule stating: Noun modifiers come after adjectives: The old newspaper seller. A tiring fifty-kilometre journey.
    So this explains it all, I think.:)
     
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