Things we know but don’t know we know

I came across this ages ago and it’s stuck with me ever since. Apart from the actually remembering the order of the words bit.

Which is kind of important. But I guess I could work it out because, after all, it’s something we know but don’t know we know until we do it.

It’s from this passage from The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase by Mark Forsyth about how to order adjectives:

Adjectives in English absolutely have to be in this order: opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose Noun. So you can have a lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife. But if you mess with that word order in the slightest you’ll sound like a maniac. It’s an odd thing that every English speaker uses that list, but almost none of us could write it out.

Look! I’ve written it out.

Oh, alright, I’ve copied and pasted it. I’m going to write it out now:

  1. Opinion
  2. Size
  3. Age
  4. Shape
  5. Colour
  6. Origin
  7. Material
  8. Purpose
  9. Noun

Or OSASCOMPN for short.



Sign reads OPEN-7 DAY'S

A new restaurant has opened in St Andrews on College Street. I think it does Indian and fish food. Not “fish food”, like food that you give to fish, I mean seafood. You know what I mean …

I just hope that their food is better than their grasp of punctuation, as the sign outside reads:


What’s with the apostrophe?! “Days” is plural not possessive!

And the dash before the seven? Does that mean: open minus seven days? What does that even mean? A restaurant for time-travellers?

The Apostrophe Protection Society should be informed.

Actually, thinking about it maybe the sign should just be corrected.

Very ignoring

It must be my evening for pedantically correcting grammar on review websites.

Another pair of earphones being reviewed here:

The sound quality is great & highly recommended for general use, but if you main us for them is at the gym, then these are not for you, the rubbery wires are very ignoring & never stay in place.

This, I presume, should read:

The sound quality is great, I highly recommend these for general use. However, if your main intention is to use them at your local gymnasium and/or health and fitness spa club while pumping iron, transforming your puny frame into that of an Adonis then I am sorry to report: these are not the earphones for you. The trouble is that the rubbery wires are very ignoring and never stay in place.

There! That’s better.