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Is this grammatically correct? Why does "jealousy and hate" sound more natural or better than "hate and jealousy." Isn't "jealousy and hatred" more grammatically correct than either?

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In addition to these nice answers, I think syllabic balance also makes a difference. If I had a good reference for this, I'd put it up as an answer. – Kit Z. Fox May 21 '11 at 13:59

Actually, all of them are correct. However, the last example sounds better because of its usage of the word "hatred". In the previous two phrases, "hate" is used. "Hate" can be both a verb as well as a noun. In "Jealousy and hate," "jealousy" is a noun, that is why "hatred" seems to suit it better, because "hatred" can only be a noun, not a verb. Two of a kind seem to go together better, while two different forms i.e. noun/adjective/verb doesn't seem to sound so eloquent.


"Fast and furious," -- both are adverbs, and
"Fire and brimstone," -- both nouns,
where as
"Wrath and angry" doesn't sound right, "Wrathful and angry" or "Wrath and anger" seems to sound better.

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Why do the first two examples not sound as good when the word order is reversed? – language hacker May 21 '11 at 6:12

As Third Idiot idiot says they're all grammatical and your confusion is probably due to hate being able to be used as both noun and verb.

But I did a little investigating based on the assumption that what sounds "better" or "more natural" would be more common, and this revealed that your suggested combination "jealousy and hatred" was preferred but also one you didn't mention, "hatred and jealousy" was not far behind:

"jealousy and hate" v "hate and jealousy" v "hatred and jealousy" v "jealousy and hate"

Don't let this dictate which you should use though, they're all fine.

(Thanks once more to Google Ngram Viewer)

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I love being quoted! Nice fuzzy feeling:) – Thursagen May 21 '11 at 5:56
I just tried that and "jealousy and hatred" rates even higher than "hatred and jealousy." Why does it sound better? – language hacker May 21 '11 at 6:11
Thank you language hacker, I foolishly entered the same term twice. Let me mop up with a few edits. Sorry about that )-: – hippietrail May 21 '11 at 6:21

Is this grammatically correct?

Isn't "jealousy and hatred" more grammatically correct than either?

Yes, and no, respectively. Hate as a noun is slightly older than hatred, though both are pretty old, being from Old and Middle English respectively, and neither went through a period of being unused, so there's no grounds for objection. Hatred is more popular than hate in this sense which is reason one for favouring it. Hatred also has fewer other interpretations, which is reason two.

Why does "jealousy and hate" sound more natural or better than "hate and jealousy."

Let's consider all four possible combinations, adding in "jealousy and hatred" and "hatred and jealousy".

One reason for favouring one over the other, is to put the emphasis on one of those words other than the other. However, we may have different reasons for wishing to put the emphasis on one or the other with different uses. Also, the rest of the sentence or even paragraph would affect which is the position that will work better; the start and end of the sentence are both stronger positions than the middle in most cases, and there's also the matter of how the stress and rhythm of the rest of the sentence works. For this reason there's a lot that will affect the choice in running text that we can't consider with the isolated phrase.

Without a specific reason to focus on one word over the other because jealousy or hatred is our theme, and the other supporting, we'll likely focus on jealousy as the more specific term. Without a wider phrase, we'll likely put it first. So far, a reason to favour either jealousy and hate or jealousy and hatred over the other two.

Now consider the pattern of syllables as they apply to the join between the two. None of them match perfectly in syllable length so as to be able to balance on either side of the and (as "love and hate" or "envy and hatred" both would), so lets consider the balance if we include the and with one of the words:

In each I'll place a | as close to the middle as possible.

Jealousy (3) | and (1) hate (1). [3 | 2]

Jealousy (3) | and (1) hatred (2). [3 | 3]

Hate (1) and (1) | Jealousy (3). [2 | 3]

Hatred (2) and (1) | Jealousy (3) [3 | 3]

There's a degree of balance that would lead us to favour the forms with hatred over those with hate.

Now let's consider the meter. With poetry (including blank verse in drama) this would be much more important, but it always has an effect, though too strong a meter in prose can sound like bad poetry!

Jealousy is pronounced /ˈdʒɛləsi/ with stress on the first syllable, and hatred /ˈheɪtrɪd/, again with stress on the first. And has more variation in pronunciation, but all of them are monosyllabic, and unless an overriding meter or degree of emphasis led us to raise it, we would tend not to give it much stress.

So, "Jealousy and hatred" has the stress / X X X / X, "Jealousy and hate" has / X X X /. "Hatred and Jealousy" has / X X / X X and finally "Hate and Jealousy" has "/ X / X X X".

Now, since we aren't talking about poetry with several lines, we can't expect any of them to fit any particular pattern of full feed, but "Hatred and Jealosy" does; Higgledy-Piggledy / Dactyls in dimeter!

It's a dactylic dimeter, such as in "The Charge of the Light Brigade":

"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:

So, pretty nice. Possibly a bit two nice in some running prose, as a few more dactyls and it could sound like you're stamping out an elegiac poem, but on it's own, pretty nice.

"Jealousy and hatred" and "Jealousy and hate" can be seen as the first paeon (one stressed syllable followed by three unstressed), followed by a trochee or a single stressed syllable, respectively. The paeon, particularly the first and the fourth (three unstressed, then one stressed) was particularly recommended by Aristotle for prose:

The form of diction should be neither metrical nor without rhythm. If it is metrical, it lacks persuasiveness, for it appears artificial, and at the same time it distracts the hearer's attention, since it sets him on the watch for the recurrence of such and such a cadence;….

If it is without rhythm, it is unlimited, whereas it ought to be limited (but not by meter; for that which is unlimited is unpleasant and unknowable….

Wherefore prose must be rhythmical, but not metrical, otherwise it will be a poem. Nor must this rhythm be rigorously carried out, but only up to a certain point….

All the other meters then are to be disregarded for the reasons stated, and also because they are metrical; but the paean should be retained, because it is the only one of the rhythms mentioned which is not adapted to a metrical system, so that it is most likely to be undetected.

Or in other words, it'll sound good, partly because few people will realise why it sounds good, and it won't be so rhythmical that people start tapping their feet to it. The first paeon is particularly good at starting sentences.

Finally, "Hate and jealousy" is a trochee followed by a first paeon. It's not like there's anything wrong with that, but there's nothing particularly right about it either. I'd say this was way you disfavoured it.

It's worth considering the context of wider sentences. Let's consider Romeo and Juliet:

Here's much to do with hate, but more with love.
Why then, O brawling love! O loving hate!

Iambic (da-DUM) pentatmeter (5 per line), balanced repetition in each line ending with da-DUM-da-HATE da-DUM-da-LOVE. Replace hate with hatred and watch the whole thing fall to pieces.

And so with the possibility of "jealousy and hate" or "jealousy and hatred". Obviously a poem with a tight meter would have to struggle to switch one for the other, while no prose sentence would be mangled by such a change, though it could still lose something of the overall rhythm depending on what followed. This could mean that while we now find them about equally recommended as far as rhythm goes, we might be less satisfied when they are placed in a wider context.

So from this, "Jealousy and hate" and "Jealousy and hatred" are both likely choices for the start of a sentence, and would also serve on their own as a heading, for which "Hatred and jealousy" also stands well. "Hate and jealousy" fails to win any prizes.

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