OSASCOMP: The Silent Adjective Controller


English is considered one of the easiest languages in the world because of its simple grammar. Are we sure that English is really that simple to learn? One thing is to learn English enough to be able to survive in the real world, and another thing is being able to write and speak using correct grammar. Not many people are aware that there is an appropriate order to writing a string of adjectives in a sentence. Most native English language writers take this order for granted, in fact, they learn this order while learning how to speak English an early age. They don't learn any rules, but they know immediately if someone doesn't respect them .


According to Collins dictionary, the most effective order of adjectives has been associated with the acronym OSASCOMP that stands for opinion, size, age, shape, color, origin, material, purpose. “Opinion” refers to the opinion of the speaker or writer about the noun like for example the adjectives funny, perfect, or cheap. “Size” is used to identify the weight or size of the noun, an example of this category can be the adjective long, tall or heavy. “Age” refers to how old the noun is, an example can be the adjective new, old and fresh. “Shape” is used to identify the physical form of the noun like for example the adjective round or square. “Color” refers to the color of the noun, green, yellow and etc. “Origin” is used to describe where the noun comes from, for example, Italian, Asian or American. “Material” refers to the material the noun is made of, like wood or iron. “Purpose” refers to what the noun is used for and how it can be used for a noun or a verb often ending in -ing. There are also two other categories that we can add to this order: number and conditions. “Number”tells us the amount or quantity of something, and condition refers to the general condition or state of something.


This order has shaped the way native English speakers write or speak. Especially speaking with foreign people, we can notice that, sometimes, it is hard to understand what they are saying. This can happen because of the accent, and especially because of the order of the words they use in a sentence. In these kinds of situations, people realize how important the order of words is to understand English. Especially in writing, it is crucial for the writers to use correct grammar in order to avoid mistakes and to make it easier to understand for the readers.

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