The adjectives of temperature: hot, warm, cool and cold

I have found the information submitted by Clifford H. Prator, professor of English, University of California, in his research paper published in the book "Teaching English as a Second Language".

He goes on to say that the adjectives of temperature hot, warm, cool and cold are illogical in English.He was talking about the weather

He cited an example to show how their use is illogical:

"If the temperature starts falling, we cannot say that 'It is hot', 'It is warm', 'It is cool', and 'It is cold'. Instead, we have to say "It is hot", "It is getting cool" , "It is cold" – Omitting warm. And a natural rising progression would be "It is cold", "It is warming up" and 'It is cold' – leaving out cool"

I would like to know how native speakers describe the falling sequence of the temperature and the rising progression since the professor's findings on the weather in the research paper are considered wrong by them

• Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – ColleenV Aug 27 '19 at 14:25
• Professor Prator taught at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), not at the University of California, Berkeley (Cal). By default, saying "University of California" without a campus name implies UC's original campus in Berkeley. – Jasper Aug 27 '19 at 20:20

I think we are missing the point some what, and the Professor, as expected, is correct.

It is a 4 point scale

Hot... warm... cool... cold

However when cooling or warming we can only say (use) 3 points on the scale.

Cooling mode.... Hot ... cool... cold

Heating mode....Cold ...warm... Hot

Because we cannot say

1) we are warming whilst cooling something even though warm is cool relative to hot

2) we are cooling whilst heating something even though cool is warm relative to cold

This is completely illogical, and as an engineer I have know about it for years.

Note It is important to remember that this is only the case for a transient temperature (whilst raising or lowering the temperature) Static temperatures can use any of the 4 points on the scale. However, the Professor does note this distinction.

Regarding what a native speaker would use is a bit more complicated.

Heating a room (not Hotting) using the boiler or furnace for example

or

Cooling a room using the air con.

warm the oven before use .... raise the oven temperature to crisp the chicken skin........ Let the pastry cool in the fridge for half an hour...... Chill the wine before serving.

All the above words and many more are in everyday use to indicating a change in temperature.

• I think the good professor was talking about the weather... – Lambie Aug 27 '19 at 13:43
• @Lambie.He was talking about weather – successive suspension Aug 27 '19 at 14:30
• @ Lambie excuse me I am confused by your comment. or was it just an observation? – Brad Aug 27 '19 at 14:37

Not exactly ambiguous, but the terms are not all used the same way.

If the air is hot, and temperature is declining, we would say "it is getting cooler" but not "it is getting colder," because getting colder implies it is already cold, but getting cooler does not imply it is already cool.

Hot, and increasing: it is getting hotter.

Hot, warm, or cool, and declining: it is getting cooler.

Cold, cool, or warm, and increasing: it is getting warmer.

Cold and declining: it is getting colder.

• Sorry but your trying to find a difference between getting cooler and getting colder and the the same for heating, that just does not exists. If we cool something from 100 degrees to zero degrees whether we say getting colder or cooler is irrelevant, it is exactly the same. – Brad Aug 26 '19 at 8:21

"If the temperature starts falling, we cannot say that 'It is hot', 'It is warm', 'It is cool', and 'It is cold'. Instead, we have to say "It is hot", "It is getting cool" , "It is cold" – Omitting warm. And a natural rising progression would be "It is cold", "It is warming up" and 'It is cold' – leaving out cool"

For WEATHER:

If the temperature starts falling= we use get to mean becoming

• The temperature is getting cooler [summer, after a lot of hot weather]

• The temperature is getting colder [fall or winter or spring]. It is already cold and getting colder or warmer. The weather is getting colder or warmer. But not: hotter.

• The temperature is getting hotter. [in summer, it is already hot]

If the temperature starts rising= we use get to mean becoming

• The temperature is getting warmer. [spring]