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Imagine you are a teacher and there are some materials in different size and you ask a pupil to put them in a order by putting the smallest first and then the next bigger and then next bigger and finally the biggest one.

I would like to ask how to ask that in proper way by using this structure ? or can I say it in different way?

Could you put the fruits in order of their size by putting the smallest first?

Could you put the numbers in order of ...... ( from smallest to biggest )

Could you put your friends names in order how much you love them?

These are the example sentences came to mind but I cannot figure out how to write the part coming from after the word order properly.

  • The first reads fine, though slightly informal. The second sentence would read fine as: Could you put the numbers in order from smallest to biggest. Just remove the 'of'. It might sound more polite as: Please place the numbers in order from smallest to largest, but that is very minor. Using 'please' instead of 'could you' changes it to a polite request from a question of ability that can also be read as a request. The last you don't specify which order so it isn't clear what is being asked. It's also not very polite to ask someone to quantify their love of their friends :) – Michael Dorgan Jun 11 '15 at 22:27
  • @MichaelDorgan Thanks for the answer. in the third question, suppose you ask that question to a 6 years old child and suppose from most loved to least one.:) btw if we do not concern about which comes first , does this sentence still make a sense? – Mrt Jun 11 '15 at 22:34
  • In that sense, it is understandable, though I would change it to a younger style of talking: Can you please put your friends names in order of how much you like them? And I'd say it with a bit of a silly grin on my face so that they knew it was ok to write down the friend they like the least last. I use Like instead of love and make it a bit wordier. Love is just one of those words that can cause issues. And yes, most to least is implied here, though not required. – Michael Dorgan Jun 11 '15 at 22:38
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Your sentences aren't far off. I would say:

  • Could you put the fruits in order of their size, putting the smallest first?

    Using "by" is not entirely wrong, but it sounds to me a bit like you are micromanaging the pupil by specifying that the selection sort algorithm is to be used.

  • Could you put the numbers in order of size (from smallest to biggest)?

  • Could you put your friends names in order of how much you love them?

Personally, I would prefer some alternative expressions:

  • Could you arrange the fruits by size, from smallest to largest?

    You could also use "sort" instead of "arrange" here.

  • Could you rank your friends according to how much you love them?

    "Arrange" isn't quite appropriate here, unless you are having your friends queue up physically (and that could really strain some friendships)!

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The first sentence makes sense. However, you can rephrase it as follows:

Could you put the fruits in ascending order of (their) size?

The second sentence doesn't sound idiomatic. It can also be put in the same way as the one rephrased above such as:

Could you put the numbers in ascending order?

I think the third sentence will be OK if you add the preposition "of" after "order", as commented by Michael.

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