English Grammar

adjectives in single file

Coming in single file before a noun adjectives fight to be ranked the closest the noun the can.
What's correct?
'a heavy awkward silence' or 'an awkward heavy silence'
Or are both acceptable? Or are both to be banned?
Which are the rules, if any?


  • Hi Gee!
    I'll try to answer part of your question.
    There are two kinds of adjectives:
    1. OPINION adjectives: nice,delicious, beautiful etc...
    2. FACT adjectives:sunny, round,English etc...

    OPINION adjectives come before FACT adjectives and the latter go in the following order: size,age,shape,colour, origin,material

    Maybe you could remember the following sentence:
    This is a beautiful large old rectangular brown French wooden bed.

    As for your example: "a heavy awkward silence" or "an awkward heavy silence"
    are heavy and awkward opinion or fact adjectives?I would say that awkward is an opinion but is heavy a fact or an opinion? If I look at your previous comments, you are better at philisophical issues than I am. Besides, that's where theory ends and where usage starts. I would say "an awkward heavy silence" but I wouldn't risk my neck here. I hope someone more competent will take it over from here.
    Good luck!I always enjoy reading your comments and I wish I had the time and your energy to make this forum even more active.
  • Oh Silky,
    I've been twice filled with joy, on the one hand by the matter of your answer, on the other hand by the author of the answer.
    I consider that there couldn't be any more competent GG user to take it over from your say. Besides I often ask to myself what the hell you're doing here in the GG.

    "This is a beautiful large old rectangular brown French wooden bed."
    Such mnemonic is worth working in the squirrel cage, isn't it? I gave it a try. But I felt awkward at uttering in a row so long adjectives. Just for myself I made up a easier sentence:
    "a lovely large * old round brown * French wooden bed"
    The stars cutting the sentence are marks to make it flow at a rhythmic pace before being able to tell it at high speed. I admit that round beds are not old but at least they are always large.

    About the awkward heavy silence, I totally agree with you.
    Awkward refers to the feeling > opinion category
    Heavy, even though metaphorical, is a factual quality.

    Thank you for your time, Silky.
    Have a happy long sunny couple of days.
  • Far easier to remember Gee! You see why I like GG.
    As for the round bed,why not? I wouldn't mind a round bed. Maybe Arthur (the historical figure for some or the legendary hero for others) slept in a round bed after a pretty boozy meal at the lovely large old round brown English wooden table.What about his (k)nights in his round bed?
    The Lady of the Lake.
  • That's it! Silky wouldn't mind a round bed. Because on it there are Arthur and the knights at the ready for a hellish orgiastic night. (Are the predicates duly ranked? Hellish -antonym- refers to what whoopee makers feel, it's an opinion or almost one. Orgiastic is the cold description by onlookers of the scene, it's a fact.)
    I wish the Lady of the Lake the finest night she could yearn for.

    That's for your dreams, Silky. For the real life I am sure you needn't to go to Dubai, there are so many round beds 8' diameter in Paris fit for the great Lady you are. Look for the Italian "Histoire" round bed that's rotates electrically.

    Thanks you for the reformed mnemonic that's sounds more English.
  • I beg your pardon, Silky. The previous message here above has been written by myself, Gee, and not by my girlfriend Gwenaëlle who uses my laptop. I didn't notice she had been on the GymGlish forum this afternoon. Inadvertently I rushed to reply to your tip without switching to my own desk.

Please sign in to leave a comment.