Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cumulonimbus Adjectives

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I saw this passage in a grammar book this past week; I refuse to reduce my literature lessons to a mere pursuit of verb conjugation and punctuation rules, but this caught my eye.

Cumulative Adjectives always go before a noun. They must be in a particular order. For example, you cannot write: black Irish little two hungry dogs setter; you must write: two little hungry black Irish Setter dogs. Do not put commas between cumulative adjectives, but do for adjectives of coordination. (First Steps in Academic Writing, pg 107).

Order of Placement:
1. Articles, demonstrative pronouns, possessives: (an, the, this, these, those, her, their)
2. Quantity: (two, fifty, some, many)
3. Opinion: (poor, beautiful, interesting, cheerful, expensive)
4. Appearance: (big, little, round, square, broken, wet, cold)
5. Age / Color: (black, red, young, blond)
6. Nationality / Religion: Guatemalan, Catholic, European, Protestant)
7. Material / Purpose: (silk, wood, cotton, swimming, hiking)
8. Noun used as an adjective: (“Shoe” store, “Wedding” dress)

I love how there are grammar rules that most of us don’t acknowledge or even think about, like laws of nature or the universe. We exist. We question things that matter personally, but there are guidelines and safety nets all around us. We feel their presence; they surround our inner cores, visit us in dreams like tooth fairies, rain down on us unknowingly like Newton’s gravity’s apples, or cupid’s insipid arrows of self-flagellation, and oh… what’s that other thing called… oh yeah- unyielding affection for others we can't explain.

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