From what is introduced here, "recent" is a kind of age and "deleted" seems to be a kind of specific opinion, so this structure seems to be correct: "deleted recent questions".

Actually I was looking at my questions in my Stack Overflow profile and saw this link at the bottom of the page: "deleted recent questions". According to what is mentioned above, this is grammatically correct, but has a misleading meaning to me. It means to me:

The questions which where posted recently and are deleted.

It means to me in this way because of the adjectives order. In fact I think the word "deleted" is an adjective for the adjective-plus-noun "recent questions".

However, it is indeed aimed to mean:

The questions which were recently deleted. (regardless of the time the question was posted)

To mean so, I think this structure is preferable: "recent deleted questions".

Now my questions:

  1. Are my statements above correct?
  2. If yes, could we use the structure "recent deleted questions" or we are forced to use something like "recently deleted questions" ?
  3. Does English grammar have specific rules for what I call "adjective for a adjective-plus-noun", or the adjectives order indicated in the provided link should always be considered?
  • 4
    'Recent deleted questions' doesn't sound appropriate to me, as 'deletedquestions' would not normally be described as recent. 'Recent dead people'? // 'Deleted recent questions' is fine: they were asked recently and deleted even more recently. 'Recently deleted questions' is indeed the way to specify questions of any vintage that have been recently deleted. Commented Nov 3, 2014 at 19:46
  • You say: "they were asked recently and deleted even more recently". but they are not necessarily asked recently. It is possible that they were asked a long time ago.
    – Aliweb
    Commented Nov 3, 2014 at 19:52
  • 'Deleted recent questions' can only have the sense I state. Commented Nov 3, 2014 at 19:54
  • 1
    @ali: No, deleted recent questions were asked recently. Otherwise they would not be recent questions. If they were asked a long time ago, they are not recent questions, but possibly they are recently deleted questions.
    – oerkelens
    Commented Nov 3, 2014 at 19:55
  • 1
    That is too broad a question for this forum, but has already been partially (and pretty thoroughly) addressed at the What is the rule for adjective order?. A further complication here is that a deleted passage etc is arguably no longer a passage; non-semantically-predicative ('this president is former') adjectives are tricky. Commented Nov 3, 2014 at 20:14

3 Answers 3


I would use an adverb instead of an adjective and say "recently deleted questions" for questions that were deleted recently, and "deleted recent questions" referring to recent questions that have been deleted.

  • Well I am asking about the possibilities in order of adjectives in such situations. I know we can use adverbs ...
    – Aliweb
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 14:43
  • @ali I understand but I would never say "recent deleted". I would go for an adverb instead. :)
    – Centaurus
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 15:10

Adjectives are technically supposed to be ordered like this: Quantity, Opinion, Size, Age, Shape, Color, Origin, Material, Purpose.

You can see more here: http://www.learnenglish.de/grammar/adjectiveorder.html

  • What does this add over the answers given at What is the rule for adjective order?
    – tchrist
    Commented Nov 3, 2014 at 22:47
  • While what you've written is true, please take a few minutes to take the site tour and visit the help center for guidance on how to use this site. Improved answers garner upvotes! :) Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 1:21
  • I think you haven't read my question at all.
    – Aliweb
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 7:09
  • I apologize to everyone. I was just introduced to the site yesterday and I was so excited that I jumped the gun on this answer. Please forgive my newbie mistake of not reading the question carefully.
    – akorff
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 21:57
  1. Yes, your statements are correct.

  2. The problem here appears to be the nature of the term "deleted." While it can be classed as a sort of opinion, states of existence function in the human psyche more like physical attributes such as shape and color, which necessarily follow closer to the noun in adjective orders. So "deleted recent questions" is strictly correct, but for matters of understanding adjectives further from the noun treat adjectives closer to the noun as part of the noun complex, so "recent deleted questions" is lucidly correct. (Sidenote: I read a text long ago where someone posited that adjective lists happened as a result of speakers willy-nilly dropping pieces of clauses or hyphenated phrases, so "deleted recent questions" would theoretically have come from "deleted-in-recent-times questions," but that seems like an abominable stretch.)

  3. Not to my personal knowledge (Oxford, MLA, APA, Chicago, and so on), but I once had a professor scold me for using adjectives that could be mistaken for verbs by our pronoun-eliding culture, especially if in the first place of an adjective list. "Deleted" in "deleted recent questions" appears to be one of these, so I have to assume by experience that it is bad form to use a squinting adjective in front of an adjective-plus-noun noun complex.

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