Unwritten Rules Of English

May 16, 2019

A speedy little red car.
Credit Kev Haworth Photography

We all use adjectives to describe things and the world around us, for example: "look at that speedy little red car!" or "look the beautiful clear blue sky." So why don't we say "that red little speedy car" or "that blue clear beautiful sky"?

Adjectives have different classes (color, size, quality, ect.) that appear in a predetermined order, which English speakers automatically use without even thinking about it.

On this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with English language expert Patricia O'Conner about why adjectives used in a series always have a specific order, as well as other common English errors people frequently use or encounter.

Later on in the program, listeners share their own grammar pet peeves and O'Conner answers their language questions.

Patricia O'Conner is a former editor at The New Yor Times Book Review, and has written four books on language and writing- including her best seller "Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English". She blogs at grammarphobia.com.