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Adjective Order

Crumbly Writer

A new internet meme began recently, concerning the proper order of adjectives in English. While most native speakers intuitively understand this order, foreign speakers struggle with it, however, if you screw the order up, it's often enough to stop readers dead in their tracks.

The order is: opinion, size, shape, condition, age, color, pattern, origin, material, purpose finally the noun they all modify.

Seriously, what human can seriously balance all of those while weaving a tale in a foreign language?

If anyone has any sentences which stump readers, you might want to consider your adjective order.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

I never heard of that. I doubt the advice is credible.

The only thing I know about adjective order is that if you can change the order without changing the meaning, then you use commas. If you can't change the order, don't use commas.

And you should limit the use of adjectives. Purple prose is filled with them.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

I never heard of that. I doubt the advice is credible.

Consider "an ugly old hat" vs. "an old ugly hat". The latter just doesn't sound as natural.

Or consider a popular song. Would it have been as popular if it sang about a "Polkadot itsy teeny weenie yello bitsy bikini?" It just rattles the brain. Instead, Brian Hyland got the order exactly right, as do most native speakers.

Of course, you can ridicule anything you want, and it's not a call to link dozens of adjectives, just a warning that, if you have a sentence which trips readers up, you may want to examine the adjective order.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ernest Bywater

The only thing about adjective order I was taught at school was to place them in the precedence order of most important first to the least important last, but there were some exceptions which I can't remember. What I do remember is the example given only makes sense when you include assumptions based on the order. Thus the descriptions below have the implied assumption meanings after them:

The little white house in Maple Street - assumes there are two or more white houses, but only one is a little house.

The white little house in Maple Street - assumes there are two or more little houses but only one is white.

In the many millions of words I've written I can't think of an actual example where this rule has a relevancy to what I wrote, or it would have an effect.

Ernest Bywater

Of course, you can get the odd mix up:

Does the purple people eater only eat purple people, or is he a people eater who is coloured purple and the other people eaters have a different colour?

Replies:   Ross at Play
richardshagrin

One of my pet peeves (I don't have a lot of pets, so make do with peeves) is "Free Customer Parking." They should say "Customer Free Parking" although that has some problems as it might mean this parking lot is free of customers. A much better approach would be Free Parking for Customers, or perhaps Free Parking for Customers only.

My problem with Free Customer Parking is that only Free Customers can park. If they are on probation from jail and as such, prisoners they shouldn't park there. Or perhaps, married customers are excluded, as they aren't really free. Or slaves (BDSM, anyone?) can't park there. Might make more sense before 1861 or so.

In any case Free modifies Customers, not Parking in the word order I dislike. I suppose the only adjective here is Free as Customers and Parking are both nouns. At least I think so, its been a long, long time since my last English class. But since we are discussing word order and how it affects meaning, I hope no-one will object strenuously. If you do, park your free customers where ever you want.

Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

The little white house in Maple Street - assumes there are two or more white houses, but only one is a little house.

The white little house in Maple Street - assumes there are two or more little houses but only one is white.


Both are wrong. The house is on Maple street, not in Maple street.

awnlee jawking

@Dominions Son

The house is on Maple street, not in Maple street.


Divided by a common language.

It's 'in' in English English too.

AJ

Crumbly Writer

I'd never heard of this adjective order list before either, so thought I'd post it here to see whether anyone might find flaws in the logic. Ernest's "most important" qualifier certainly counts, but I'd still pay attention if it sounds funny as a result of mixing the order--it may be a red flag.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

I'd never heard of this adjective order list before either,


Either had I so i Googled it. You're right. It's there although the Cambridge one differs slightly.

There are times it feels better not to put a comma between adjectives. I wonder if it's when the order matches the "rule."

A 79-yo black man entered.
A black, 79-yo man entered.

The order says age before color.

Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

It's there although the Cambridge one differs slightly.


So what was the Cambridge one?

Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

So what was the Cambridge one?


The Cambridge Dictionary lists a slightly different order: opinion, size, physical quality, shape, age, colour, origin, material, type, purpose.

vs

The order is: opinion, size, shape, condition, age, color, pattern, origin, material, purpose finally the noun they all modify.

Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

The Cambridge Dictionary lists a slightly different order: opinion, size, physical quality, shape, age, colour, origin, material, type, purpose.


With size, shape, age, colour and material all separately listed, I am at a loss as to what "physical quality" could possibly cover.

Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

I am at a loss as to what "physical quality" could possibly cover.


Maybe that's the "condition" in the other one.

awnlee_jawking

@Dominions Son

physical quality


light, heavy, blonde, brunette, tumescent, flaccid?

AJ

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@awnlee_jawking

light, heavy, blonde, brunette, tumescent, flaccid?


Light: color and/or size

Heavy, tumescent: size

blonde, brunette: colors.

flaccid: quality, shape, and/or type.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

So what was the Cambridge one?

Ha-ha. They spell "color" differently!

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

With size, shape, age, colour and material all separately listed, I am at a loss as to what "physical quality" could possibly cover.

"worn", "threadbare", "battered", "like new".

REP

@Dominions Son

I am at a loss as to what "physical quality" could possibly cover.

Perhaps texture and density.

Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

The house is on Maple street, not in Maple street.


In that context the use of on or in is a local idiomatic usage.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

In that context the use of on or in is a local idiomatic usage.

I'm sorry, but I'm a stickler for the exact definitions here. The street is in a map, as is the house, but that doesn't mean the house is "in" the street. If it was, then none of the cars could get by it.

Local usages may vary, but some young kid in India is gonna read that and think "What the fuck?" In such a case, I'd stick to the stricter definition.

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


I'm sorry, but I'm a stickler for the exact definitions here. The street is in a map, as is the house, but that doesn't mean the house is "in" the street. If it was, then none of the cars could get by it.


If that was the only correct usage, then people would live on Indiana, and not in Indiana, etc. Also, you'd be driving in the highway and not on the highway.

As I said, it's idiomatic usage, some people say on and some people say in. If you wish to get pedantic about it then you should say: The little white house built on a block of land with a frontage facing Maple Street. - except that's too damn long for daily use, so we shorten it, some use in and some use on.

edit to fix typo

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

but that doesn't mean the house is "in" the street


I agree. The house is on the street.

But the one that gets me is:

She sat on his lap.
She sat in his lap.

I believe they're both correct.

Replies:   Ross at Play
samuelmichaels

@Crumbly Writer

I'm sorry, but I'm a stickler for the exact definitions here. The street is in a map, as is the house, but that doesn't mean the house is "in" the street. If it was, then none of the cars could get by it.

Local usages may vary, but some young kid in India is gonna read that and think "What the fuck?" In such a case, I'd stick to the stricter definition.

Given no other clues, I would assume a house *in* Maple Street is in UK, and *on* Maple is in the US. *In* is, indeed, the correct usage in British English. The hypothetical kid in India would have been taught BE -- the addresses in India use the *in the street* convention.

(Unless it's something like Off Karve Road, but that's a whole different story).

Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

She sat on his lap.
She sat in his lap.
I believe they're both correct.

I looked this up recently in Oxford dictionary while editing for a British writer. It had a 'grammar point' and I was surprised to see it recommended (dictated ?) sit on a chair, in a lounge, or at a table.
It didn't mention lap. I suppose it depends on how much padding he has.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

Consider "an ugly old hat" vs. "an old ugly hat". The latter just doesn't sound as natural.

I've seen variations on this "rule" too, but to me it is NOT a rule being imposed, but an attempt to identify and document what happens and seems natural to speakers.
The example that convinced me was "big red round ball". Every other order of saying them just sounds off.
I'm not sure where, but a grammar guide with that example was making the point no commas are needed that if you have a series of these most common types of adjectives - in the right order!
That seems consistent with the point SB made if adjectives sound wrong if the order is reversed, then no comma should be used.

Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater

The little white house in Maple Street - assumes there are two or more white houses, but only one is a little house.
The white little house in Maple Street - assumes there are two or more little houses but only one is white.
In the many millions of words I've written I can't think of an actual example where this rule has a relevancy to what I wrote, or it would have an effect.

I think you are citing situations where writers choose to not use the most common order. My guess is:
"little white house" means little and white house
"white, little house" means it is more important that the house is white than little.

Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater

Does the purple people eater only eat purple people

No. That would be the purple-people eater.

Ross at Play

@richardshagrin

One of my pet peeves (I don't have a lot of pets, so make do with peeves)

I own ten cats (or am owned by them?).
It doesn't stop me getting very peevish. :-)

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play

@richardshagrin

I suppose the only adjective here is Free as Customers and Parking are both nouns. At least I think so, its been a long, long time since my last English class.

One of those English lessons many years ago would have mentioned that nouns VERY OFTEN act as adjectives modifying other nouns.
In this case I see no problem with customer acting as an adjective to modify parking, but forming a compound noun then modified by free.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


I wonder if it's when the order matches the "rule."


Yes, it is, but they must be the last adjectives in the list.

I think it is correct (and it sounds like this if you say them out aloud.

You can have: flat, big red round ball

But you would need: big, red, round, flat ball

BTW to SB: You can guess how smug I'm feeling now after ignoring all those nay sayers who kept who kept on insisting all the style were useless, and they did not need them. They are needed, or some knowlegde of what's in them some times to identify what will work better when what you have sounds wrong. Thank you for encouraging me to go down that path.

EDIT TO ADD: looking at later posts, flat is probably a physical condition, so
Best may be: big flat red round ball
That sounds right to me.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

Either had I so i Googled it. You're right. It's there although the Cambridge one differs slightly.

I would appreciate both links if you can find them again.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

The Cambridge Dictionary lists a slightly different order: opinion, size, physical quality, shape, age, colour, origin, material, type, purpose

Apparently, my big red round ball went to Cambridge. :-)

Jim S

@Switch Blayde

There are times it feels better not to put a comma between adjectives. I wonder if it's when the order matches the "rule."

A 79-yo black man entered.
A black, 79-yo man entered.


This is where writing comes in as the two, though passing the same objective data, say something different. This is what separates good writers from average writers, i.e. the ability to shape language in such a way that emotion can be conveyed. At least for fiction writers.

Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

I would appreciate both links if you can find them again.


Google "order of adjectives in English"

Cambridge = http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/grammar/british-grammar/adjectives-order

American? = http://www.gingersoftware.com/content/grammar-rules/adjectives/order-of-adjectives/

and here's one that's different than the others = http://www.ef.com/english-resources/english-grammar/ordering-multiple-adjectives/

Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

sit on a chair,


Unless you write:

He sat in a cushy chair.

The connotation is that he sank into the chair.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Switch Blayde

Grammar Girl talks about this adjective list which she calls "quasi-official." She even gives examples for each type of adjective.

As you may have already gathered, there are lots of exceptions to these rules, especially in the physical descriptions—size, age, shape, and color—which is why I call them quasi-official. For example, to me, the square green tile and the green square tile both sound right. It just depends on where you want to put the emphasis.


I believe the "it just depends on where you want to put the emphasis" is what Ernest mentioned with his "small white house" vs "white small house."

http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/writing/order-of-adjectives

Switch Blayde
Updated:

This tip from Grammar Girl is probably more important than the order of adjectives. It's when you have or don't have a comma between adjectives.

http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/commas-with-adjectives

The comma rule comes down to the difference between two kinds of adjectives: coordinate adjectives and cumulative adjectives. Coordinate adjectives are adjectives in a row that each separately modify the noun that follows (1), as in "heavy, bulky box." Both "heavy" and "bulky" modify "box." You can even rearrange the adjectives and say, "bulky, heavy box."

Cumulative adjectives, on the other hand, don't separately modify the noun that follows even though they are all stacked up before the noun too (2). Instead, the adjective right before the noun pairs with the noun as a unit, and then adjective before that unit modifies that. An example will make this more clear: In the phrase "exquisite custom houseboat," "custom" modifies "houseboat"—they become a unit—and then "exquisite" modifies "custom houseboat."

If you try to rearrange the adjectives as we did for "heavy, bulky box," you'll run into a problem. The phrase "custom exquisite houseboat" is awkward, and it's awkward precisely because you can't rearrange cumulative adjectives.

EDITED TO ADD:
Let's say you have two adjectives in a row before a noun and you're not sure whether they're coordinate or cumulative. You can perform a simple test: Add the word "and" between the adjectives. If the phrase makes sense, the adjectives are coordinate; if not, they're cumulative. For example, "It's a bulky and heavy box" makes good sense but "It's an exquisite and custom houseboat" does not.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

If that was the only correct usage, then people would live on Indiana, and not in Indiana, etc. Also, you'd be driving in the highway and not on the highway.

Except, a state or a country is a fictional (purely invented by man) invention, so you live "IN" it's definitions, rather than on a particular physical place (like a street).

Maybe it is a regional thing, as I've never known many people to say they lived "in" a street, except maybe the Mutant Ninja Turtles.

@Switch

But the one that gets me is:

She sat on his lap.
She sat in his lap.

I believe they're both correct.

That's because lap refers to two separate things, what rests atop it, and what you hold in it. It's a matter of degrees. You hold a plate on food on you lap, but you hold a loved one in your lap. One refers to inanimate objects, the other to intimate relationships.

Of course, I'm not sure whoever made this up, but that's how I've always thought of it.

@Samuel Michaels

Given no other clues, I would assume a house *in* Maple Street is in UK, and *on* Maple is in the US. *In* is, indeed, the correct usage in British English.

I guess I've been blind all this time, because with all the British English books I've read (include the Aussie books), I've never noticed the "in"/"on" dichotomy before. Talk about unobservant!

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

I own ten cats (or am owned by them?).

Nope. You're allowed the honor of waiting on them hand and foot--whenever they deign to put up with your presence.

Dogs, on the other hand, are forever your humble servants, until you annoy them, then watch those fingers!

Replies:   richardshagrin
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

Best may be: big flat red round ball

How do you have both flat and round? Isn't it one or the other? (Though both are physical conditions.)

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


For example, "It's a bulky and heavy box" makes good sense but "It's an exquisite and custom houseboat" does not.

How about: "In either case, I can't afford me no damn houseboat"?

P.S. Sorry for so many responses in quick succession. I was busy all day!

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

Except, a state or a country is a fictional (purely invented by man) invention, so you live "IN" it's definitions, rather than on a particular physical place (like a street).


Apart from coastlines and watercourses all boundaries, borders, and places of demarcation are arbitrary decision by humans. A street location and its physical boundaries are as arbitrary an identification of the land as a house block, a county, a state, and a country. None of them exist in nature, but are created by people for their own reasons.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

Apart from coastlines and watercourses all boundaries, borders, and places of demarcation are arbitrary decision by humans. A street location and its physical boundaries are as arbitrary an identification of the land as a house block, a county, a state, and a country. None of them exist in nature, but are created by people for their own reasons.

Except a street or neighborhood name is merely that, a label used to identify to a physical location, whereas a town or city is a mental construct where it defines limits (i.e. determining whether someone lives "inside" or "outside" of the arbitrary limits). In the case of a specific street, there's no real question of who's inside or outside, only whether they reside on the physical street.

But again, I've never seen this postulated anywhere, it's just always been my interpretation of the difference. However, since I never noticed the British "in" vs. the American "on", I wouldn't put too much value on my opinion on the matter. I clearly haven't been paying much attention for the last 60 years!

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Best may be: big flat red round ball

How do you have both flat and round? Isn't it one or the other?


Someone could have poked a hole in your round ball and now it's a "flat big red round ball." Of course "flat" would have to move to the front because it's describing the condition of a "big red round ball."

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

Unless you write: He sat in a cushy chair.

The devil in my ear is urging me to insist the only correct option is: He sat into a cushy chair - just to see what kind of outraged responses I would get. :-)

Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde


@Crumbly Writer
Best may be: big flat red round ball
How do you have both flat and round? Isn't it one or the other?

@SwitchBlayde
Someone could have poked a hole in your round ball and now it's a "flat big red round ball." Of course "flat" would have to move to the front because it's describing the condition of a "big red round ball."


To CW: I was using flat as its physical condition, and probably only used in contexts after the need for a bicycle pump has been mentioned.

To SB: There is always the option of taking something out of the "standard order" in order to emphasise that adjective, only to do that you need a comma after flat, followed by remainder without commas.

The intent of this list is not to specify what order adjective strings are used, it is to identify which do not need commas when in the correct position - because that reflects the way natural speakers would phrase them.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

How do you have both flat and round?


Easy, a disk is flat and round; coins, records, CDs Frisbees.

big flat red round ball


A ball is by definition round, so that's redundant.
Flat could be an inflatable ball that is uninflated or under inflated.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
sejintenej

@Crumbly Writer


The order is: opinion, size, shape, condition, age, color, pattern, origin, material, purpose finally the noun they all modify.

Switch Blayde replied:

I never heard of that. I doubt the advice is credible.


I read that list a few months back though I can't find the source. However the British Council has some interesting observations including, as an example:

A few adjectives are used only in front of a noun:
north
south
east
west

northern
southern
eastern
western

countless
occasional
lone

eventful
indoor
outdoor

I agree it is a complex question

Replies:   Ross at Play
sejintenej
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


Except, a state or a country is a fictional (purely invented by man) invention, so you live "IN" it's definitions, rather than on a particular physical place (like a street).


You need to be careful of that one. You can live IN New York but you live ON the Hudson River (on a boat, not in a boat).

In England (around here anyway) you live in [name of street]

Replies:   Dominions Son
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


The comma rule comes down to the difference between two kinds of adjectives: coordinate adjectives and cumulative adjectives.


Thanks for identifying that.

I suspect a more specific description would be:

"The comma rule firstly requires writers to identify two kinds of adjectives: ..."

... then cumulative adjectives must be separated by commas, but coordinate adjectives in limited (but the most frequently used) circumstances MAY have no commas.

I suspect (again not sure) the examples I have been citing are all coordinate adjectives; AND the conditions required for commas not to be used include:

- the writer has not chosen to use it at the head of their list, for emphasis when a comma is needed, and

- the adjectives must be in the correct order, AND at the end of the list (just before the noun) for commas to omitted. They should be omitted if possible to spare readers the burden of pauses for something reads smoothly without them.

It also appears the list of categories is not totally fixed. It is, after all, merely attempting to identify how natural speakers usually say things. Grammar girl had an example of that.

Some are effectively fixed: speakers always tend to specify size, colour, and shape in that order. There's no reason why. It just is what happens.

I think the test here is what sounds natural and flows smoothly, but if in doubt, looking up the list and trying them in that order will almost certainly give you something that sounds so natural you can (and should) omit commas.

Ross at Play

@sejintenej

I am not objecting to your comment, but will note you've come into a conversation about something else.
You are correct that there are quite a lot of adjectives that can only be used as 'adjective noun', and not as 'noun is adjective' as most can.
FYI, you will understand what is being discussed here better when you realise we have been discussing the best order for lists of nouns coming before nouns, and whether they must be separated by commas. :-)

Ross at Play

Would one of the Americans clarify something for me.
I have always thought the object used in American football was called a "ball", but I have been corrected and informed balls can only be round. What do you call that thing?

Replies:   Zom
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

In the case of a specific street, there's no real question of who's inside or outside, only whether they reside on the physical street.


I've seen cases go to court to decide that exact issue. Some common ones are:

1. Corner lot

2. Battle-axe lot

3. Back lot - house is behind another house with a long driveway to the street.

4. Full width lot with a street on the front and back.

5. Rural residence with an access road across another property.

The court cases are to decide what the official address and access are, because it affects various code issues.

Zom

@Ross at Play

balls can only be round

Maybe it's round (having a curved surface with no sharp projections), but not spherical?

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Zom

It was an attempted joke, but weak and framed badly.
I was irritated by a stupid comment that 'round ball' is redundant. It is something almost every speaker of English would say.
In Australia, we often call soccer 'the round ball game', to distinguish from three other codes of football with ovoid shaped balls. Round is NOT redundant in that expression.

Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

A ball is by definition round, so that's redundant.


A football isn't round.

Dominions Son

@sejintenej

You need to be careful of that one. You can live IN New York but you live ON the Hudson River (on a boat, not in a boat).


Here is how it breaks down for me.

From a logical, geometric, geographic perspective,

Political entities (nations, cities) are areas. You are in an area, not on an area.

Roads, rivers, and other similar things are lines.

You are on a line, not in a line.

A line at a store checkout or for a ticket booth is different. This is not a line in a geometric sense, but rather it is a queue, a container, and you are in a container

Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

A football isn't round.


Yes it is, if you look at the short cross section. :)

Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

A football isn't round.


some are round and some are ovoid.

Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

Roads, rivers, and other similar things are lines.


Only on some maps, but not all maps. And in real life they're wider than a line. Rivers are physical natural barriers, and the rest are arbitrarily created man made barriers.

richardshagrin

@Crumbly Writer

Dogs have masters, cats have staff.

Dominions Son

@richardshagrin

Dogs have masters


No, if done right, dogs have a pack/family. Of course, a pack has an alpha, but I've seen cases where the dog was top dog.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Here is how it breaks down for me.

Thanks, D.S. That's alone the lines that I was thinking, though I wasn't quite succinct.

@Ross, my "flat round ball" objection wasn't that a ball had to be either round or spherical, only that it not be flat, unless we're describing things which are not inflated, like Frisbees.

In most cases, I'm not sure I'd use both "round" and "ball", as the round doesn't add much to the description. Would you really describe a football as an "oblong leather football"?

@D.S.

Of course, a pack has an alpha, but I've seen cases where the dog was top dog.

According to the latest things I've been reading on the subject, that's a fallacy. Yes, wolves are pack animals, but domesticated dogs really aren't. They might defer to the most aggressive individual, but it's generally not a cut and dried (binary) as that, otherwise they wouldn't tolerate human children as well.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Would you really describe a football as an "oblong leather football"?


I would describe it as an oblong leather ball before calling it a round ball. It's not round. It has a rounded side. But to me, a round ball is like a tennis ball.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

I would describe it as an oblong leather ball before calling it a round ball. It's not round. It has a rounded side. But to me, a round ball is like a tennis ball.

My point wasn't about calling oblong shapes round, it was with describing a ball as round at all, or conversely, describing a round ball as being flat. In my case, I wouldn't describe a physical shape that everyone recognizes, unless I'm trying to show readers the actual experience of passing/kicking/throwing it.

For me, a ball is, by definition, roundish, unless it's flat, at which is stops being "round" (instead becoming a "deflated ball", much like a military officer is no longer active duty, they become a vet.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Crumbly Writer

much like a military officer is no longer active duty, they become a vet.


There are other options. Death or court-martial action that might take away his commission and put him in jail. Or five star generals are never retired, they just don't have duties with troops or in a headquarters. Sometimes they get elected President and are no longer on active duty but are still commander in chief. I try not to say "never" or "always." Exceptions may violate your rule.

Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

I try not to say "never" or "always." Exceptions may violate your rule.

I agree completely. You can still be "in" the water if your houseboat sinks!

Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

I would describe it as an oblong leather ball before calling it a round ball. It's not round. It has a rounded side. But to me, a round ball is like a tennis ball.


if you take two cross sections of a football, one along the long axis and the other perpendicular to the long axis, the second cross section will be a circle. Circles are round.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
richardshagrin

Geometry teaches pie are square, but really pie are round, cornbread are square.

Dominions Son

@richardshagrin

Geometry teaches pie are square, but really pie are round, cornbread are square.


+10

I've made the same joke several times, but I generally use brownies for it.

Replies:   Capt Zapp
Capt Zapp

@Dominions Son

I've made the same joke several times, but I generally use brownies for it.


I would prefer to eat Brownies.

REP

@Capt Zapp


I would prefer to eat Brownies.


Do you eat fairies also? :)

Dominions Son

@Capt Zapp

I would prefer to eat Brownies.


Girl Scouts are better.

Replies:   REP  Capt Zapp
REP

@Dominions Son

Girl Scouts are better.


Nah! The only thing Girl Scouts want you to eat are their cookies. :)

Replies:   Dominions Son
Ernest Bywater

@richardshagrin

but really pie are round,


The large percentage of meat pies sold in take-aways in Australia are square in shape. Thus the above isn't true.

Capt Zapp

@Dominions Son

REP 9/11/2016, 10:02:31 PM

@Dominions Son
Girl Scouts are better.

Nah! The only thing Girl Scouts want you to eat are their cookies. :)


Yeah... What REP said

Dominions Son

@REP

Nah! The only thing Girl Scouts want you to eat are their cookies. :)


If you want a BJ, it's only fair to eat her cookie. :P

Replies:   REP
Ross at Play
Updated:

@richardshagrin


Dogs have masters, cats have staff


Dogs have masters, cats have slaves, and pigs have peers.

EDITED TO ADD

I asked some peers whether they thought it was acceptable to call an American football 'round'. They were adamant that was correct, and they preferred others use that expression rather than any alternatives. :-)

Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

if you take two cross sections of a football


There's a trivia question: What is the only sport played with a ball that isn't round?

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


@Ross, my "flat round ball" objection wasn't that a ball had to be either round or spherical, only that it not be flat, unless we're describing things which are not inflated, like Frisbees


Someone else objected "balls are round by definition". Balls to them too!

I do not find the objection that a round ball cannot be flat so objectionable.

The thing that often drives me up the wall is the constant nit-picking gotchas pointing some supposed contradiction between a couple of words, taken completely out of context.

I never mind when anyone makes a joke out of pointing out someones slip up or oversight. I do (or attempt) that all the time myself, and I'd admit to a particular mischievous pleasure when I spot one of your typos I can poke fun at.

It's just pointing some trivial error that annoys me, as if it's showing how clever they are. It just seems sad and pathetic to me.

I sometimes get angry when it only wastes my time while I am trying to seriously discuss which are of some importance to authors, editors, and readers alike.

EDIT TO ADD AFTER ACCIDENTAL POSTING

... For example, this thread. Just how should authors order and punctuate a long list of adjectives to make them read as smoothly and easily as possible? Isn't that why most of us are here?

The infamous 'big red round ball' was introduced to this thread by me, when I said it was the example I had seen that convinced me there exists a "natural order" speakers tend to use when saying a list of adjectives. Every other order of saying those three adjectives just sounded off to me. No idea why. Does not matter why. Just is. But what is very important to us here is others have investigated this and documented classifications we can use that (almost?) always help us easily find an order that does sound natural.

This time really shits me because it was not even my example! And I made that clear when I introduced it.

If they is anything wrong or dubious in grammatical points I am trying to make, go ahead, throw whatever criticisms you have at me! I want you to do that, because there are many tricky and subtle points I am struggling hard to learn.

But when it's nothing more an insignificant choice of words in an example chosen to demonstrate a point of grammar ... Give me a break! I've got far more important things to do than bother with others desperate need to one-up others.

Regarding your objection to my use of flat and round (and I had introduced that in addition to my initial quote to demonstrate some other grammatical point) I am a bit contemptuous of that objection too. I used an idiomatic expression, correctly, to make some other point. From now on, I will probably just respond, "Go to Hell," to anyone who makes nit-picking technical objections to my use of idiomatic expressions."

So, with respect to you because I very much value the insights and thoughtfulness of most of your contributions to these forums, in this instance my response is: "

If you'd ever kicked a bloody football in your life you'd understand that flat meant inadequately inflated, and you'd say round instead of spherical or whatever simply because saying anything else makes you sound like you've got a baseball bat shoved up your arse, or if you prefer ass!" [WDR & :-) to CW]

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

What is the only sport played with a ball that isn't round?


Trick question. There is no sport played with a ball that isn't round on at least on axis.

If you asked about balls that weren't fully symmetrical like a foot ball, it would still be a trick question, because there are two. Rugby and American Football.

Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

What is the only sport played with a ball that isn't round?

Watersports?

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Ross at Play

@richardshagrin

I try not to say "never" or "always."

Never trust anyone who says "never".

REP

@Dominions Son


If you want a BJ, it's only fair to eat her cookie.


Sounds good to me. :)

Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

What is the only sport played with a ball that isn't round?

Watersports?


The question was for sports played with a ball. I mean you have skiing, track, etc. And, btw, water polo is played with a round ball.

But the question is wrong anyway. I remember the answer being football, but rugby is also played with a ball that is not round.

I guess the test for the ball being round is to bounce it.

Replies:   Dominions Son  Zom
richardshagrin

Late entry to the sport played with a "ball" that isn't round. I remember the Mongols played a version of polo with a human head as the ball. Decapitated it might roll when hit in the right places, but it isn't really round, the former neck gets it out of round.

Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

I mean you have skiing, track, etc. And, btw, water polo is played with a round ball.


I don't think that's the kind of watersports he was thinking of. :)

Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

What is the only sport played with a ball that isn't round?


There are a number of sports played with the dead animals, and some with things like a goat bladder, variants with tin cans (kick the can is one) and some football played with a coconut, but they aren't officially called balls. Curling is done with a stone not a ball, despite being a ball type shape. Hockey uses a puck. I also assume you're ruling out the forms of football that use ovoid balls. Golf balls are dimpled, but still round overall. That just about leaves ballooning, but they don't call them balls, or the grenade toss.

Crumbly Writer

@Capt Zapp

I would prefer to eat Brownies.

'Cept you got to jail for eating Brownies. Cornbread is safer. The worst you can do with cornbread is burn your hand on the handle!

@REP

Do you eat fairies also?

Currently, there tain't no laws gainst eatin' no fairies (at least in the U.S., but don't try it in Iceland).

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

It's just pointing some trivial error that annoys me, as if it's showing how clever they are. It just seems sad and pathetic to me.

I should respond, since I'm the one who sank the conversation with that observation. But just as you mentioned what 'sounds' wrong to you, I was pointing out something which sounded wrong to me. I didn't mean any more to it than that, though when people start asking you to defend personal opinions, we start sinking into the muck pretty quickly.

In short, there IS no valid defense for why "flat" is or is not an apt phrase. If used in a sentence, everyone understands it, but if used in an unusual or uncommon way, it, like everything else, falls flat (in American, "flat" means "without air", whereas "deflated" can mean partially or fully deflated).

In other words, we as a collective group keep specifying individual things which strike us as sounding odd, just so others are aware of it as a possible issue, but the points quickly take over the entire discussion.

It seems the most minor of points sidetrack discussions here, which is why many hold that poor jokes are the mark of a discussion being dead--because as soon as they start, the discussion ends shortly thereafter and everyone starts fighting over minor nits that no one truly cares about.

Will I stop making nitty (not clever by half) remarks? I doubt it. Should we stop fighting over stupid comments we can't justify with authoritative references? Probably.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

If you want a BJ, it's only fair to eat her cookie.

If you don't, she's liable to lose her cookies when you ask her for a BJ (especially when you forget the "P").

Hint: That's "PB&J" for those who don't get the pun.

And with that terrible joke, I declare this entire thread officially flushed, whether for good or ill is anyone's guess.

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

Will I stop making nitty (not clever by half) remarks? I doubt it.

I NEVER object when someone attempts to make a joke, even a bad one.
You were sort of in the wrong place at the wrong time with this one. :-)

Zom

@Switch Blayde

I guess the test for the ball being round is to bounce it.

Non spherical balls do in fact bounce, but if you mean in a predictable manner, then you should check out Australian Rules Football (AFL) where the non-spherical (ruby style) ball is bounced on turf often and repeatedly in a completely predictable manner. It just takes shit-loads of practice!

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Zom

It just takes shit-loads of practice!

What are the quantifiable limits which qualify for a "shit-load"? Twenty times? Two-hundred? Thirty-five hundred and seven? :)

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

What are the quantifiable limits which qualify for a "shit-load"?


How many bowel movements does it take to fill a honey wagon. :)

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

limits which qualify for a "shit-load"?

At least an hour every day, starting in the womb, if you want to do it running at full speed so you won't cost your team a free kick because you were 'caught holding the ball'.

Zom

@Crumbly Writer

What are the quantifiable limits which qualify for a "shit-load"?

It is a subjective measure. It's more than an ass-load but still less than a fuckton.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Zom


It is a subjective measure. It's more than an ass-load but still less than a fuckton.


A fuckton sounds like a unit that would be used to measure the destructive capacity of a thermonuclear sex bomb.

Replies:   Zom
Zom
Updated:

@Dominions Son

A fuckton sounds like a unit

According to one unreliable source (on Reddit) there are 10 shit-loads per metric fuckton. In English measurements, it's about 66/7 shit-loads per fuckton. Most people prefer to use metric.

Ernest Bywater

Today I came across this interesting video that talks about this subject in a light-hearted way.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTm1tJYr5_M

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Ernest Bywater

I think it might be English from England. They spell color as "colour". The credits flashed by but I thought I saw something about London as where the studio was.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@richardshagrin

I think it might be English from England.


Yes, it's an English video, but it still provides a good insight into the subject.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater

For the record, the categories and order it suggests are:
General opinion
Specific opinion
Size
Shape
Age
Colour
Origin
Construction

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