Thanks for your nice, long letter. Thanks for your nice and long letter

Thanks for your nice, long letter.
Thanks for your nice and long letter.

Which one is correct?
What is the difference between them?
Can you please describe them with perfect explanation?

Answer

The preferred way of saying –

a nice long letter

and

a nice and long letter


Grammatical Explanation –

An adjective occurs in a noun phrase, in between the determinative (pre determiner + center determiner + post determiner) and the head noun.

At times there might be a need to accommodate more than one adjectives there. In order to determine the order of adjectives it’s convenient divide the territory between the determinative and the head noun into four premodification zones (I, II, II, IV).

So the structure of the noun phrase is –

Determinative + [Zone I + Zone II + Zone III + Zone IV] + head-noun

Zone I : Precentral
Examples of adjectives that will sit in this zone are: major, certain, definite, slight etc.

Zone II : Central
Examples of adjectives that will sit in this zone are: new, good, nice, long, beautiful etc.

Zone III : PostCentral
Examples of adjectives that will sit in this zone are: customised, retired, deserted, blue etc.

Zone IV : Prehead
Examples of adjective that will sit in this region are: financial, American, medical etc.

Hence the preferred order is –

A major new customised financial service [Noun Phrase]

Now in our discussion both nice and long fall in Zone II: Central. The adjective – nice – falls under emotive/evaluative group. And so it generally precedes other adjectives in **Zone II*.

So the preferred order is nice long over long nice.


There is another non-grammatical approach to it. It depends mostly on meaning and common sense.

Consider the noun phrase –

A nice long letter.

In order for the letter to be nice, it must be long. So a nice long letter.

But it’s very unlikely that in order to be long, the letter must be nice. So we don’t say a long nice letter.

In order to determine which adjectives will occur in which zone, please go through the pages from A Comprehensive Grammar of English Language: page no. 437 and 1337 – 1344 (It’s hard to copy this huge excerpt here)

Reference – A comprehensive Grammar of English Language

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Source : Link , Question Author : I don’t know who I am. , Answer Author : Man_From_India

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