Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Interesting Rule

In our day to day lives, we all observe rules--sometimes we call them laws, sometimes suggestions, but whatever we call them, they're there to keep our lives orderly. Many of these "rules" we learn in early life as we learn to speak the language, so they are so ingrained that we don't even this about them. Recently I heard about a rule which I've been observing most of my life without realizing it. And I'll bet that you have incorporated it into your speech as well.

I'm told that this rule used to be taught in school, although I don't recall Ms. Billie Casey doing so, and I consider my education to be pretty complete. When describing something in detail, we often observe an order (although we may not realize it). That order is usually opinion, size, shape, color, origin, purpose. So if I ask if you've seen the ugly, oversized, rectangular, dark brown purse it sounds better than pointing out the dark brown, overly-large, rectangular ugly purse. We don't think of the rule. It just sounds right the first way.

Do you agree with this rule? Why, or why not? What other "rules" can you think of that we observe without thinking of them? I'd like to know.


Priscilla Bettis said...

I've heard this rule, and generally I follow it out of convention, not because I was actually taught the rule. Another rule I was taught that people don't use anymore is the subjunctive case: If it were raining, I'd be in a blue mood. It's kind of hard to break that habit, but it comes across as pretentious or old-fashioned, so I am trying to adjust.

Richard Mabry said...

Priscilla, When I studied German in college (many, many years ago) I was drilled on the subjunctive case. I don't think it's pretentious to use correct grammar. But I don't recall it's being mentioned in high school.