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Position of the attribute.

I.The usual place of the attribute expressed by an adjective, noun, pronoun, or participle is before the word it modifies.


What extraordinaryideas you have about the way to behave to a woman!



With most of such attributes the order in which they follow each other is generally free, i. e. it can be easily changed.


Amelia Sedley had such a kindly,smiling,tender, generousheart of her own

as won the love of everybody who came near her. (Thackeray)


However, with some attributes the order in which they follow each other is more or less fixed.

Attributes denoting age, colour, material, and nationality come next to the noun modified.


Rawdon preferred the quiet little Belgian city to either of the more noisy

capitals. (Thackeray).

Two years of married life had not lengthened her short dark chestnuthair.



When two or more attributes denoting age, colour, material, and nationality refer to the same noun the order is as follows:


various age colour material nationality  
    red   Turkish slippers
    black lacy   dress
  old blue     kimono
pleasant young       man


E. g.


3 2 3 1

She had brought her a bright yellow spotted silkblouse and a purple

Angorasweater. (M. Dickens)


It is interesting to note that the adjective little often corresponds to Russian diminutive suffixes in such words as паренек,братишка,ручка,комнатка. In this case as well as when little denotes age, it is placed immediately before the noun unless there are attributes denoting colour or nationality.


He was naked and painted blue and yellow in stripes — a jolly littlechap.


He was a little like Jolly, but eager-looking and less formal... altogether a very interesting littlebrother. (Galsworthy)


B u t: Mrs. Inchbare’s unloveable hair clung fast round her head in wiry little

yellowcurls. (Collins)

A fortnight after it took place, he asked her where was her little Frenchwatch

and chain she used to wear. (Thackeray)


II. Post-position of the attribute.

There are some cases when the post-position of the attribute is its normal place, i. e. when it is not emphatic.

1. Most adjectives in ‑able and ‑ible are generally placed after the noun, especially when the noun is preceded by the adjective only or an adjective in the superlative degree: sufferings unspeakable, the only person visible, with all the solemnity possible, the most interesting thing imaginable.

However, a few adjectives with the same suffixes stand before the noun they modify.


He is the only reasonableman here.

She is a sensiblelittle girl.


2. In some stock phrases the adjective is placed after the noun:


wealth untold — несметные богатства

from times immemorial — с незапамятных времен

a poet laureate — поэт-лауреат

generations unborn — грядущие поколения

court martial — военно-полевой суд

sum total — общая сумма

four years running — четыре года подряд

the first person singular — первое лицо единственного числа

the second person plural — второе лицо множественного числа


3. The adjectives proper (собственно, как таковой) and present (присутствующий) are placed after the noun.


We shan’t find anything about sculpture in this book, it deals with architecture


В этой книге мы не найдем ничего о скульптуре, она посвящена

архитектуре как таковой.

All the people presentwelcomed Paul Robeson enthusiastically.

Все присутствующие восторженно приветствовали Поля Робсона.


These meanings of proper and present are not to be confused with the meanings of proper and present when used in pre-position, e. g.:


This is not a proper answer to a question of this kind.

Our presenttask is to preserve peace in the world.


4. Attributes expressed by cardinal numerals denoting the place of the object in a series always follow the noun modified. No article is used in this case: page ten, tram number six, room two.

5. Adjectives stand after indefinite and negative pronouns.


I’d like to read something very interesting.

There is nothing extraordinaryin her dress.

I’d like to speak with somebody very cleveron the subject.


6. Attributes expressed by prepositional phrases follow the noun modified.


As a gesture of proud defiancehe had named his son Francis Nicholas.



Besides the cases when the post-position of the attribute is its normal (unemphatic) place, there are a few instances when the postposition of an attribute expressed by an adjective serves the purpose of emphasis.


It was with a conscience uneasythat Edwin shut the front door one night a

month later. (Bennett)


In this example we can easily put the attribute before the word modified, but then it will not be prominent.

Whereas the post-position of a single adjective is rather rare, two or more adjectives are often placed after the word modified for the sake of emphasis: these adjectives may or may not be joined by a conjunction.


He gave Annette a look furtiveand searching.(Galsworthy)


(“He gave Annette a furtive and searching look” would sound less emphatic.)


All sorts of fancies brightand darktenanted my mind. (Ch. Bronte)


When two or more attributive adjectives are placed in postposition, their connection with the noun they modify is often loose, i. e. they become detached and are consequently separated by a comma.


When I looked up... there stood the widow, pale,grave,and amazed. (Ch.


The boy inherited his own eyes, large,brilliantand black.(E. Bronte)


When an attribute expressed by an adjective modifies a proper noun or a personal pronoun, it mostly stands in loose connection to it whether it is placed in pre-position or in post-position.


Clare, restless,went out into the dusk. (Hardy)

Paleand constrained,he walked into the room and took his seat at the

window. (Cronin)

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