0

Say...

I know a guy named Frank.

  • He's hot.
  • And, he's quiet.
  • And, he's damaged.

Someone doesn't know Frank and asks me, and I say in reply:

Oh, he's Frank. The quiet, damaged hot guy.

This order of adjectives sounds the most natural to me. "The damaged quiet hot guy" or "The hot quiet damaged guy" sound ridiculous to me.

Why?

And I suppose adjectives "quiet" and "damaged" here describe "hot guy" as a whole.

I recall being taught a formula for the order of adjectives in 5th grade. But I don't exactly remember it. It is something like, "Adjectives of Taste before adj. of quality before etc. etc"

  • A word of caution, since 'quite' sounds similar to 'quiet', you should be careful when you speak the sentence, as the listener may misinterpret your sentence by picking up the former, giving the sentence a different meaning. – Varun Nair Oct 5 '17 at 7:11
  • How can a guy be "damaged"? – BillJ Oct 5 '17 at 7:24
  • 2
    @BillJ, maybe she's talking about Emotional damage I've heard people use the term ‘damaged', mostly used in informal conversations – Varun Nair Oct 5 '17 at 7:58
  • That order of adjectives you learned in 5th grade is easily found on the internet. – J.R. Oct 5 '17 at 8:53
  • 1
    @Varun - Like you, I assumed damaged meant “damaged goods”, i.e., emotionally damaged. It seems like a common enough term in lunchroom gossip. – J.R. Oct 5 '17 at 9:07
1

I think hot stands in contrast to quiet and damaged in your sentence. I think you are trying to say that Frank is hot in spite of the fact that he’s quiet and damaged. Therefore, if I were writing this, I’d probably break the list of adjectives into two, so they could be properly contrasted:

That’s Frank. He’s hot, but he’s quiet and damaged.
That’s Frank. He’s quiet and damaged – but he’s hot.

Or, if you think his shyness is part of what makes him so hot:

That’s Frank. He’s quiet and hot, but he’s damaged.


When all the adjectives are positive or negative, we can string them together:

I’m going to scrap my old, beat-up, loud pickup truck.

However, when you have one positive adjective to go with two or three negative ones, it’s often better to use but between them, so it doesn’t sound so awkward:

I’m going to sell my truck. It’s old, beat-up, and loud, but it’s reliable.

I think that’s better than:

I’m going to scrap my old, reliable, beat-up, loud pickup truck.

because reliable doesn’t seem to fit in that list of descriptors very well.

0

There is a specific order in which adjectives have to be mentioned. A very interesting article I stumbled upon a while ago gives more detail:

The order of adjectives, according to the book's author Mark Forsyth, has to be: opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose.

Arguably, this doesn't help much in this particular case since quiet, damaged and hot are all more or less in the same descriptive category. I would agree with your order, though: Quiet could be seen as some kind of opinion. Damaged could either be an opinion, too (your opinion, that he is damaged) or maybe a metaphorical shape. Hot could be his purpose in that sentence, ultimately confirming your ordering.

Beware, the explanation I offered is completely made up by myself. But at least you can justify your intuition this way. Damaged, quiet hot guy would probably not be wrong, but Quiet, damaged hot guy sounds better to my ear. The rhythm of the sentence could also be a factor here.

  • Can you elaborate on what you mean by "hot could be his purpose"? Are you thinking of a stock character in a melodrama, say? – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 5 '17 at 12:49
  • Yes, that is what I meant. "Hot" is his purpose in a sense that he is a stereotypical hot guy with the purpose of being the guy girls like (e.g. in a story/movie). – Ian Oct 5 '17 at 13:15

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.