In Proper Order

Reviewing The Elements Of Eloquence by Mark Forsythe in The Spectator, Christopher Howse notes:

The shiniest piece of information I picked up is that, in English, adjectives go 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.

This knowledge is implicitly mastered by all native speakers; to see it made explicit is an enjoyable revelation, like learning to carry a tray on the flat of your hand.

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