[Grammar] Adjectives limited to describing only one specific aspect of a thing

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sepchan

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I'm hoping this is a simple question and that the answer will settle a debate between my friend and I.

We both agree that an adjective can be used to describe any or all of the following aspects: feelings, time, sound, quantity, taste, appearance, size, age, color, shape, and material.

Can I use an adjective like heavy to describe more than one aspect of an object.

For example

(Appearance) That object looks heavy.
(Feel) That object is heavy.

As a follow up question:

If the answer is that I can describe an object as being heavy visually, is there any restriction to describing it as heavy once I have interacted with it and confirmed that (for this example) it is actually not heavy. To clarify would I have to say it is big instead of heavy since it isn't heavy?
 

BobK

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I'm not sure I understand. Would 'It's not as heavy as it looks' help? (It's perfectly idiomatic.) Also - though using a rather archaic construction - 'It looks to be ['looks as if it should be' might be preferable] heavier than it [really] is'.

b
 

Gillnetter

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I'm hoping this is a simple question and that the answer will settle a debate between my friend and I.

We both agree that an adjective can be used to describe any or all of the following aspects: feelings, time, sound, quantity, taste, appearance, size, age, color, shape, and material.

Can I use an adjective like heavy to describe more than one aspect of an object.

For example

(Appearance) That object looks heavy.
(Feel) That object is heavy.
The air in the valley looks smoky. The air in the valley smells smoky. The air in the valley tastes smoky.

As a follow up question:

If the answer is that I can describe an object as being heavy visually, is there any restriction to describing it as heavy once I have interacted with it and confirmed that (for this example) it is actually not heavy. To clarify would I have to say it is big instead of heavy since it isn't heavy?
An object doesn't have to be big to be heavy. For example, a pound of gold is much smaller than a pound of paper.
 

Esredux

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Can I use an adjective like heavy to describe more than one aspect of an object.
....
To clarify, would I have to say it is big instead of heavy since it isn't heavy?
What makes you think that only affirmative sentences can adequately describe an object? Sometimes, negation can be the only way to express your idea. What might be wrong with 'It isn't heavy', if that's exactly what you want to say?
 

konungursvia

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The nature of linguistic innovation in English is very poetic and symbolic. So you will always see adjectives used in new places, not sticking to one meaning. The other day, I saw Nicki Minaj compliment a singer on American Idol, saying "it was so crispy, it was ill." She meant that as a very high compliment, meaning exquisite, and rare.
 
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