1

I'm taking an online English Grammar course, and I'm a little bit confused with the adjectives order thing.

In the course is said that the order is:

  1. Opinion (nice, lovely, ugly, terrible)
  2. Size (big, small, enormous, tiny)
  3. Age (old, new, 12-year-old, ancient)
  4. Shape (square, oval, round)
  5. Color (blue, red, golden, spotted)
  6. Origin (Italian, European, American)
  7. Material (wooden, gold, silk)
  8. Use (dinner – dinner table, flower – flower pot)

So, in the phrase:

A RIDICULOUS CHEAP PLASTIC toy

To me, it seems that ridiculous and cheap "opinion" adjectives, so why does ridiculous go first?

migrated from english.stackexchange.com Feb 23 '15 at 10:31

This question came from our site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts.

  • 1
    Welcome to EL&U. Your question may be a duplicate of What is the rule for adjective order? – choster Feb 17 '15 at 9:11
  • I want to say ridiculously cheap. But whether one says ridiculous or ridiculously is dependent on meaning. Do you mean the toy was ridiculous, or was it the cheapness that was ridiculous? If it is the latter you need the adverb ...ly. – WS2 Feb 17 '15 at 9:15
  • 1
    May I suggest that you modify the title? Is the adjective "cheap" an opinion or a fact? That would explain your confusion, because as your question is currently titled, it seems you want to know in which order you should place the adjectives. – Mari-Lou A Feb 17 '15 at 9:38
  • 2
    Because I wanted to say ridiculously, ridiculous cheap plastic toy sounded more intuitive, but when I suppressed that urge, and considered the adjectival alternatives, cheap ridiculous plastic toy sounded just as good to my ear, suggesting that both cheap and ridiculous could be considered a matter of opinion, just like this question! – ScotM Feb 17 '15 at 10:48
  • 2
    Ridiculous cheap little old online grading tool! – Jim Reynolds Feb 17 '15 at 13:57
1

"Cheap" can be a statement of fact or an opinion. "Coke is on sale for 99 cents for a two-liter bottle. That's cheap." = That's a great discount, not that Coke is a shoddy product. "The child got a cheap toy with his Happy Meal, and it broke in a half hour." = The toy was not well-made and as such, fell apart fast.

Usually, context will make this clear. If context does not clarify, recast the sentence: "The diamond ring was inexpensive/a great buy/a steal/a bargain/worth more than I paid." And for the other sense, "shoddy" or "cheaply made" clarifies.

  • Sorry if I sound silly, but I'm afraid I'm still confused: If I took "Cheap" as a statement of fact, how would I order the adjectives in the phrase "A RIDICULOUS CHEAP PLASTIC toy"? And if I took it as an opinion, why would "A CHEAP RIDICULOUS PLASTIC toy" be wrong? Thank you for your patience! – Rocío García Luque Feb 17 '15 at 17:03
  • With either sense of the word, it seems the sense of the expression requires the adverb "ridiculously" (before "cheap.") Either the item is ridiculously inexpensive, or of ridiculously low quality. Otherwise, it's not clear what you mean--"ridiculous" means "to be laughed at," so what are you laughing at? I imagine it is the cheapness of the item, not the item itself. – Steven Littman Feb 17 '15 at 23:11
  • Thank you! Reading all this, I think that a "A RIDICULOUS CHEAP PLASTIC toy" it's a simply a bad example to practice the order of adjectives... – Rocío García Luque Feb 18 '15 at 8:24
  • 1
    No, it's not a bad example at all. Both "cheap" and "ridiculous" are matters of opinion. One man's bargain (or junk) may be too expensive (or good enough) for another man. And one man may ridicule what another man admires. The question is, how do you handle it when both adjectives are of the same priority? One way is to use a comma: "A cheap, ridiculous toy" OR "A ridiculous, cheap toy", depending which aspect you want to emphasize more. – Brian Hitchcock Feb 23 '15 at 11:43
  • That is exactly what I thought: they are two adjectives of the same priority, I don't know which one has more emphasis -because I have been given no context- so I'll put the most common one first. But the grading tool marked "a cheap ridiculous cheap plastic toy" as wrong... >__< – Rocío García Luque Feb 25 '15 at 16:18

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.