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Adjective order

Adjective order in English follows a pattern that we call DOSA-SCOMP: Determiner, Opinion, Size, Age, Shape, Color, Origin, Material, and Purpose. So "My favorite big old square white French cotton gardening hat". When adjectives fall into the same category, separate them with commas (in any order): "A beautiful, mysterious song".

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Video transcript

- [Voiceover] So, grammarians, if you're a native English speaker, the phrase French old white house might seem a little weird to you, if you're not a native English speaker it might not, and this is something that I didn't really know about before I started preparing to teach this course, is that there is a specific order that adjectives go in in English. This is something that I think we just pick up as English speakers but if you didn't grow up speaking English it gets a little tricky sometimes. So the question is, in order to make this seem right, what order do you put these adjectives in? That's near about as I can reckon it. Making this into old white French house. Because there is an order and it goes like this. Determiner, opinion, size, age, shape, color, origin, material, purpose, or for short dosa scomp. Dosa scomp. Aw. Okay, that's actually kind of a thing. So a dosa is a South Indian flat bread, and a scomp, I'm gonna say is a word for eating. It's not a word, it's a made up word, but dosa scomp. Sounds like scarf to me. Or chomp. Both of those are verbs that denote eating, as well as scarf being a garment, so dosa scomp. I just want you to imagine sitting down to a delicious South Indian meal and scomping on some dosas. So dosa scomp. Determiner, and that's words like the or an. Opinion, this is when you're describing something there are certain descriptors that not everyone would agree with. So if you're looking at a piece of black metal, everyone would be able to agree that it is black. But if you think it's cool looking or ugly looking, you know, everything that anyone could conceivably disagree about, that's an opinion. So, cool for example, that would be an opinion. Size, so the cool, big, old, square, black,. And origin usually can be where it's from. So let's say Texan. And then we have materials, let's say leather, cause leather can be black, and the purpose. This is where we would use what's called a participle or a gerundive to determine what the thing is for. So if we were talking about a lawnmower that you ride around on, that's called a riding mower. And the last thing here is the thing itself. So we're looking at, so this thing is cool, big, old, square, black, Texan, leather, riding mower, but frankly in most normal English sentences you'll probably never going to use more than three adjectives to describe a given thing. Like old white French house. Now sometimes, you might find yourself using more than one adjective that fits into the same category. So you might say the exciting, unparalleled green dragon. And you'll notice I put a comma there, because when you use two adjectives from the same category, so two opinions, exciting and unparalleled, you wanna separate them with a comma, but generally if you're just scooting down the dosa scomp, old white French house, you don't need to separate these non-coordinate adjectives from each other. And we'll get more into commas in punctuation section, but for now, all you need to remember is dosa scomp. And if you've never had a dosa, I strongly urge you to look up recipes online or go to a South Indian restaurant and make and eat this delicious food. And then, you're just gonna scomp on some dosas. So determiner, opinion, size, age, dosa. Shape, color, origin, material, purpose, and then the thing. That's the order that adjectives go in in English. Why is this? I have no idea. You know sometimes language can be really, the word I tend to use is arbitrary. You can call it random, if you like. This is just the way that we arrived at this order, it's just basically through random chance of convention. And what seems to sound right. And what sounds right for English isn't always what sounds right for other languages. For example, the way we're using adjectives here, we're always putting them to the left of whatever they modify, the exciting, unparalleled green dragon. It's all to the left, it's all old white French house. It's all on this one side of it. And other languages don't do that necessarily. So when you're trying to just throw a bunch of adjectives together on the left side of the noun, this is the order. Just remember dosa scomp. And that's how adjective order works in English. You can learn anything. David out.