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This is a general question with no specific sentence in mind. If a string of 2 or 3 attributive adjectives (or attributive nouns?) are used in a sentence, they generally follow a particular order (e.g. a wonderful old Italian clock). I am currently reading a scientific article where the terms

quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction
reverse transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction

have been used interchangeably.

  • My question is, is there a construction where a change in the order of adjectives does not cause a meaning change or does not render the sentence grammatically incorrect?

Searching the Internet gives both results. Does the order have an impact here?

marked as duplicate by Jason Bassford, Mitch, JMP, John Feltz, J. Taylor Aug 11 '18 at 8:09

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • "Searching the Internet gives both results" does not necessarily mean they mean the same. – Kris Jul 26 '18 at 9:25
  • @JasonBassford I feel the thread that you indicated covers a different issue. This example does not fall into either of those categories, I feel. – Arun Jul 27 '18 at 5:55

The basic concept is polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

A quantitative method is quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR)

A variant of the first is the Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).

And of the latter, the quantitative Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR), or the Reverse transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction. "Quantitative" can be used to modify PCR or the whole RT-PCR, though the abbreviation stays RT-qPCR.


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