Order of Adjectives

 

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“A cute, tiny, traditional, long, pink, Japanese silk kimono.”

When there are multiple adjectives that apply to the same noun we use this order

First: Amount (many, some, a few, 10, 3 …)

Second: Opinion/quality (beautiful, scary, boring, fine…)

Third: Size (big, small, tiny, immense…)

Fourth: Age (old, young, seven-year old, ancient….)

Fifth: Shape (round, thin, blocky, square…)

Sixth: Color

Seventh: Origin /Nationality

Eighth: Material (steel, wooden, stone…)

Or course it’s rare to use all of them in a sentence, like the initial examples about the kimono.

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A cute, tiny, traditional, long, pink, Japanese silk kimono.”

It’s better to focus on just a few:

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Many tired small old Asian monks” (quantity, quality, size, age, origin)

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A big round wooden table.” (quantity, size, shape, material)

It’s not a big deal if you get the order wrong. If you say “a wooden, round, big table” the listener can understand completely, it just doesn’t seem to flow as well. Always remember to put amount first though.

Idioms- A dime a dozen

“Great meals are a dime a dozen in Bangkok.”

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“Beautiful women are a dime a dozen in Seoul.”

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“A dime a dozen” is a common phrase that means something is either very cheap or very plentiful. “A dime” is a ten cent coin, worth one-tenth of a dollar. “A dozen” means twelve.
Expanded it would be(it costs) a dime (to buy) a dozen (of those things)

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So the literal meaning is to buy 12 of something for 10 cents.

Traditionally some foods, like eggs and donuts, were sold in 12-packs. So a long time ago you would see sales that advertised cheap prices, like buying a dozen eggs for a dime.

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We use it for things that are cheap, plentiful, or easy to get.
“Great meals are a dime a dozen in Bangkok.” = Great meals are very cheap in Bangkok. Not literally ten cents, but inexpensive enough to not cause a burden.

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“Beautiful women are a dime a dozen in Seoul. = There are so many beautiful women that the value of being a beautiful woman isn’t high.

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“Can you eat spicy food?”

One of the most perplexing questions I get asked by Koreans is “Can you eat spicy food?” This seems like a strange question.

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The main problem is the “Can you…” part. This makes it a question of ability, not preference. “Can you fly?”, “Can you speak Chinese?”, “Can you come to my party tomorrow?”. Asking someone “Can you eat spicy food?” is like asking them “Are you able to eat spicy food?”, “Is it possible for you to eat spicy food?” This almost sounds like a challenge, as if you are questioning their abilities.

I have heard many, many foreigners complain about getting this question.
“Can you eat spicy food?” (sounds like a challenge)
“Of course I can!”
It’s much, much better to ask “Do you like spicy food?” Then the question isn’t about ability, it’s about preference. Even someone who hates spicy food can eat it.

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Personally I like spicy food. Most Korean food isn’t spicy to me, but some tastes pretty hot.

Being Stuck

Being ‘stuck’ means something is “attached” or “can’t move”. A mouse that gets caught in a glue trap is a great example of this- because of the glue it is now attached to the trap and can’t move.

We can use it for either meaning:

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attached: “The women stuck a flyer on the community billboard”
can’t move: “The fat thief tried to escape through the small window and got stuck”
We also use it for times when you aren’t literally “unable to move” but it feels that way.

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“Sorry I’m late I got stuck in a meeting.”

= I was in a meeting I didn’t want to be in, and I couldn’t escape.

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“I got stuck in traffic.”

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“She is stuck in a bad marriage.”

It has the impression of helplessness that you’re in a situation that you cannot overcome with your own power.
This is why we use it for problems as well.

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“I got stuck on a problem in my homework, it made me so frustrated I had to take a break.”

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“I’m stuck on the last level in this game, I can’t figure out how to kill the final boss.”

Abstract Places

 

 

“I’m going to Jamaica”

“I’m going home”
These two sentences are very different. In the first one Jamaica is a real specific place, an actual location and it is a noun. So we use the preposition “to”.
In the second sentence ‘home’ is not a real specific place (my home and your home are different places), it’s a more abstract idea. It operates as an adverb of place. We don’t need to use “to” because it’s an adverb that really means “in the direction of home”.
When the place you are talking about is not a single, real, specific place then we don’t use “to”.


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“I’m going home” (abstract place, different for everyone)

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“I’m going to my house.” (real place)


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“I’m going upstairs” (the direction of up)
“I’m going to the second floor” (a real place in this building)


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“I’m going abroad.” (any country other than this one)
“I’m going to Spain.” (a real place)


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“Come here.” (my “here” and your “here” are different. It’s not a real place)
“Come to this spot” (a very specific location).


Learning how to think of places as nouns or adverbs is tough, so just try your best.

Abstract nouns


It can be very hard to understand which nouns are abstract and which are concrete.


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Concrete nouns are easy. Just like the concrete we use to make buildings and roads we think of them as solid and strong.

Concrete nouns are things you can:

see (a sunset) ,

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hear (a song),

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touch (an icicle),

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smell (a fart)

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or taste (honey).

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Abstract nouns are things you can’t see, hear, touch, smell or taste.

They are ideas or concepts (time, money, freedom),

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actions (running, drinking, falling)

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and feelings (hatred, love, confusion).

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Abstract nouns are uncountable.

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Money is a concept. Dollars, Won and Yen are concrete things that represent money to people.

“I have money.”

“I have 10 dollars


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Time is an idea. Hours, days and years are measurable, real nouns that represent time to people.
“Do you have time this weekend?”

“Do you have a couple of free hours this weekend?”


Some words can be both abstract and concrete, but the meanings change.

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“I love you.” love is a concept or feeling.
“I left my love overseas” here ‘love’ refers to an actual person = the person that I love.

“I don’t have time.” time is a concept
“That happened two times.” here ‘times’ is a completely different word, = the number of occurrences.


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“I hate winter.” all winters, the concept of winter.
“I went to Europe two summers ago” we are counting a year’s summer as a period of time, not as an abstract concept.
I don’t expect you to master abstract nouns with a short audio clip. I just want you to try to start noticing them more. Mastery (an abstract quality) will come later.

Home and House

 

The difference between “Home” and “House” is subtle, but they are very different. A ‘home’ is where a person or family lives.

A house is just a building.
If a family lives in a house then that house is their home. If they live in an apartment then that apartment is their home. If a place is your permanent residence then it is your home. A home is an abstract place, it is different to everyone. A student may live in the dormitory at university, but probably wouldn’t consider that a home. If someone lives alone in a small apartment they may consider that their home, or they may still consider their childhood home as their real home.
“I’m going home” and “I’m going to my house” can have the same meaning. If you live in a house.
“I’m going home” and “I’m going to my apartment” can have the same meaning, if you live in an apartment.
“I’m going to my friend’s house” is a common expression.
“I’m going to my friend’s home” sounds just a little strange. It’s his home, not yours.
Home country, homestay, homeowner, home schooled… ‘home’ can also be an adjective. It’s the place where you live, the place you belong, the space that belongs to you. ‘House’ is just a building.

We even have the expression “Make a house a home” referring to doing things like decorating, having kids, getting pets… anything to make the building feel like a home to you.