English, like most other languages, is full of irregularities and peculiarities. One that always comes to mind is adjective order.

I remember, before finishing my TEFL qualification, listening to a student and having the overwhelming urge to correct them. They were describing a photo to me and there was something that didn’t sit well. Of course, it’s hard to correct someone when there is nothing grammatically wrong with what they’re saying. Her syntax was excellent, not a word out of place nor were there any poor word choices – I let it go.

OSHASCOM is probably the rule that makes the least amount of sense; I am yet to come across. It’s in the grey area between grammar and preference. If you look in any textbook the structure is as follows:
determiner + adjective(s) + noun.

Adjectives themselves are very inflexible in English; you can’t place them around the noun, only before. OSHASCOM comes in due to how native speakers talk. Over time, we have unconsciously created a rule that we ourselves, don’t know exists. This rule is so ingrained, that when you break it, it just sounds odd. If you are a higher-level speaker trying to really reach the peak of your fluency or a lower-level learner that wants to get it all right from the start, here is what you need to know.

a, an, some, several, many, much, a lot, 64 etc.



Opinion: pretty, ugly, beautiful, smart, expensive

Size: big, fat, thin, small, short, tall

Shape: circular, square, round, oblong

Age: old, young, 2 year old, week old, month old

Colour: green, pink, charcoal, white, black

Origin: Australian, Peruvian, American, Chinese

Material: cotton, leather, wool, wood, plastic



Try this with one of your English speaking friends, or maybe, your teacher. Here are examples, one correct and the other incorrect. See if they can tell you which is which, just by listening.

It was a Chinese, small, wooden, beautiful, brown, old, circular table. ✗

It was a beautiful, small, circular, old, brown, Chinese, wooden table. ✓

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