A long boring annual report
A boring long annual report

which of the above is right?

I learnt the adjective order of DOSA SCOMP, which means the adjective order should be as below:

determiner, opinion, size, age, shape, color, origin, material, purpose

the answer is

a long boring annual report

but that seems to be against the DOSA SCOMP Does anyone know the reason?

  • 1
    Closely related: Adjective order: Why is “big” before “beautiful”?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Feb 17, 2019 at 10:43
  • I'm guessing it has to do with "laziness", big and long are only one syllable, it's easier to start with a monosyllabic word followed by disyllabic or trisyllabic words.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Feb 17, 2019 at 10:47
  • I'd put a comma between "long" and "boring" when used in that order. No comma needed the other way around.
    – Lawrence
    Feb 17, 2019 at 10:57
  • @Lawrence I read from grammar book that if two adjectives are both in 'opinion' category, then a comma is put between them. You mean that 'long' also refers to 'opinion'here?
    – tracy
    Feb 18, 2019 at 7:15
  • @Mari-Lou A Thank you for the answer. I am not quite sure if the rule DOSA SCOMP is affected by the number of syllables?
    – tracy
    Feb 18, 2019 at 7:32

2 Answers 2


I believe the format (DOSA SCOMP) applies when the adjectives are qualifying the noun but in this case two of the adjectives are describing the qualified noun "annual report" and so we fall back to what's being emphasised in the phrase.

So it's an "annual report", that is both long and boring, and the emphasis in "a long, boring annual report" would be on the word "boring". In addition, the order "long, boring" sounds better and that often takes precedence in English over grammatical rules - the rules are really just a guideline for common usage anyway.

  • The trouble here is that boring falls under ‘opinion’ and long roughly under ‘shape’, meaning that boring ought to come first. But it does sound better with long first. The last part of your answer is kind of circular (or perhaps rather just self-contradictory): grammatical rules like DOSA SCOMP are no more than descriptions of how English is actually used to form things that ‘sound good/better’, so euphony can’t really take precedence over grammatical rules – it is the grammatical rule, so to speak. Feb 17, 2019 at 17:43
  • Long is also an opinion here. Compare “a long boring report” with “a boring quarterly report”. Feb 17, 2019 at 18:29
  • @JanusBahsJacquet euphony is the grammatical rule that is generally not considered, so much so that I don't recall ever seeing that formalised or taught. Feb 17, 2019 at 19:56
  • @neogeek Many, many rules of grammar are almost never taught – some of them aren’t even fully understood. If you go through the 2,000-page Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, there’s every chance you’ll find no more than perhaps 100 pages that deal with rules you’ve actually been taught in school. That doesn’t mean you don’t follow the rest, just that you follow it because you know it without knowing you know it. Feb 17, 2019 at 19:59
  • @JanusBahsJacquet from my literature studies I learned that the strength of the English language is that is has no formal rules, just common usage. All that matters is how effectively we communicate our ideas and how others' perceptions of us are affected. To that end only, grammar and spelling are important under current conditions, although the "rules" have been loosening pretty rapidly since the rise in popularity of the internet. All this to say that I feel that euphony's precedence needs to be explicitly stated, and hopefully I'll now remember the term the next time it's needed :P Feb 17, 2019 at 20:06

I see no difference in meaning between 'long boring report' and 'boring long report'.

My opinion, which many here will find objectionable or simply wrong, is that where meaning is not affected we prefer aesthetics over arbitrary correctness. So which of 'long boring' and 'boring long' do you prefer when free of the requirement to justify the preference?

I could go with 'long and boring report' because the 'boring' compounds the offence of 'long' and the 'and' puts some emphasis on the aggravation of the crime. 'boring and long report' doesn't have the same punch -- I say.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.