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    #1

    "relaxing, long bath" — Adjective order

    Hi,

    In the sentence, “I want to take a relaxing, long bath.” - is it grammatically correct to say this? Or should it be “I want to take a long, relaxing bath.”

    Thanks
    Last edited by GoesStation; 05-Jun-2020 at 19:15. Reason: Change title to reflect message content

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    #2

    Re: "relaxing, long bath" — Adjective order

    Hi, and welcome to the forum.

    Please update your profile with correct information.

    Either sentence is possible, but number two is more common. Sentence one puts a little more emphasis on "relaxing".
    I am not a teacher.

  3. Phaedrus's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: "relaxing, long bath" — Adjective order

    Without the comma, only the second order works:

    a long relaxing bath
    a relaxing long bath

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    #4

    Re: "relaxing, long bath" — Adjective order

    Hi,

    So “I want to take a long relaxing bath” is grammatically wrong? Thanks

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    #5

    Re: "relaxing, long bath" — Adjective order

    Quote Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post
    Without the comma, only the second order works:

    a long relaxing bath
    a relaxing long bath
    Quote Originally Posted by Talab1234 View Post
    Hi,

    So “I want to take a long relaxing bath” is grammatically wrong? Thanks
    No. You've misunderstood. "... a long relaxing bath" was the second sentence in post #1. The fact that Phaedrus crossed out "a relaxing long bath" (and marked it in red) shows you that it is wrong.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #6

    Re: "relaxing, long bath" — Adjective order

    Just to clarify

    I want to take a relaxing, long bath. - Correct
    I want to take a relaxing long bath - Wrong

    Why is it wrong without the comma?

    Thanks

  7. Phaedrus's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: "relaxing, long bath" — Adjective order

    Quote Originally Posted by Talab1234 View Post
    Just to clarify

    I want to take a relaxing, long bath. - Correct
    I want to take a relaxing long bath - Wrong

    Why is it wrong without the comma?
    That's not an easy question to answer. Native intuition makes all the difference here.

    It is possible to use that order without the comma, but only if you give emphatic stress to "relaxing." This could be written in a few different ways:

    italics: I want to take a relaxing long bath.
    bolding: I want to take a relaxing long bath.
    caps: I want to take a RELAXING long bath.


    But it would be wrong to use that order without that special emphasis on "relaxing" and without a comma between "relaxing" and "long":

    (i) I want to take a relaxing long bath.
    (ii) I want to take a relaxing, long bath.

    If you say "I want to take a RELAXING long bath," you mean that you want to take a long bath that is relaxing: a [relaxing [long bath]]. You do not want to take a long bath that is not relaxing. "Relaxing" restrictively modifies the unit "long bath."

    If you say "I want to take a relaxing, long bath" or "I want to take a long, relaxing bath," you mean that you want to take a bath that is both relaxing and long: a [relaxing] [long] bath / a [long] [relaxing] bath. Each adjective modifies "bath" separately.

    Without the comma, and with no special emphasis, only the order "a long relaxing bath" works. While it is true that if you emphasized "long" ("I want to take a LONG relaxing bath"), "long" would restrictively modify "relaxing bath," that meaning is not present without that special emphasis.

    Essentially, "long" has a different semantic status from "relaxing" in the normal order (as pronounced without special emphasis): "I want to take a long relaxing bath." According to one book, "long" would be categorized as an Epithet and "relaxing" as a Descriptor. Epithets precede Descriptors.

    I don't expect you to understand that, especially with the jargon terms that I haven't defined. The definitions are intricate. It is worthwhile to observe, however, that the position of "relaxing" doesn't have to do with its length. The same order would need to hold if "relaxing" were changed to "hot":

    I want to take a long hot bath.
    I want to take a hot long bath.

    It is also worthwhile to observe that "long" is gradable in both cases, whereas "relaxing" and "hot" are not, unless they are emphasized or preceded by a comma. Gradability is one of the characteristics of "Epithets" as opposed to "Descriptors."

    I want to take a very long relaxing bath.
    I want to take a long very relaxing bath.

    I want to take a very long hot bath.
    I want to take a long very hot bath.

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    #8

    Re: "relaxing, long bath" — Adjective order

    Not a teacher
    ------

    Does it have anything to do with why there's a fixed order of adjectives (quantity before quality)?

    I know interesting many facts.
    I know many interesting facts.

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    #9

    Re: "relaxing, long bath" — Adjective order

    Talab1234, I hope you appreciate how lucky you are to have received such a detailed, knowledgable and comprehensive reply from Phraedrus.

    We don't normally go to so much trouble for a new member who has given only untrue information in their profile, or has failed so far to have clicked the Thank button in the bottom left-hand corner of every post (except their own).
    Last edited by Rover_KE; 06-Jun-2020 at 15:20.

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    #10

    Re: "relaxing, long bath" — Adjective order

    Quote Originally Posted by Talab1234 View Post
    Just to clarify

    I want to take a relaxing, long bath. - Correct
    I want to take a relaxing long bath - Wrong

    Why is it wrong without the comma?

    Thanks
    Both are wrong. Put long first.

    A comma is needed because both words are qualities that carry equal weight.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

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