You do not have to know the exact grammatical rule behind the sentence I went to the store to know that it's wrong – but you probably learned it at school, even if you did not care recall . Object pronouns such as me can not be used as a subject. it should be the subject pronoun I . In other cases, you probably will not notice that provides a grammatical explanation of why a particular phrase or phrase sounds wrong. Big Red Machine sounds a lot better than Red Big Machine or? As Inc. reports because we use adjectives automatically in a specific order.
In his beautiful, rectangular book The Elements of Eloquence Mark Forsyth illustrates this sequence using the following example: Beautiful small old rectangle green French silver knife . The adjectives begin with the opinion ( little ) and undergo a further seven categories ending with purpose ( whittling ).
Here is the complete breakdown:
2nd Size ( Little )
3rd Age ( Old )
4th Form ( rectangular )
5. color ( green )
6. origin ( French )
7. material ( silver )
8. Purpose ( carving )
If you change this order significantly, you may make it difficult for your listeners or readers to understand the meaning at all. Carving French Green Beautiful Rectangular Silver Old Small Knife sounds like nonsense. Breaking up Carving and Knife with any adjective such as Carving a French Knife or Carving a Small Knife makes it sound almost like this like the knife is currently carving.
Forsyth's classification system works well with his example phrase, but he's not the only grammarian to think about it. Cambridge Dictionary offers its own classification system that includes two additional categories: Physical Quality (such as thin or rough ) and type (such as universal or ] fourfold ).
Also, Forsyth's categories are rearranged slightly, as you can see below:
3. Physical Quality
According to these rules, Forsyth's carving knife was to be a beautiful small rectangular old knife and not a beautiful little old rectangular knife . The breaking up of small and old may seem strange, but it is possible that we are only really used to small and old next to each other, as in Little Old Lady or Little Old Me .
As is common in the world of linguistics, there are often different interpretations – and almost always exceptions – when it comes to grammar and you can definitely rely on your instincts as they probably have served you well before you ever knew anything about the adjective order. Hopefully, you'll never have to describe a noun with more than a few adjectives anyway.
Curious, what other grammatical rules you did not know? Here are four more.  [h/t Inc.]