"Welcome to English, where most of the rules are broken somewhere at sometime."
If there ever was a succinct introduction to the English language, it was this. At even the best of times, English can be a confusing means of communication. People have gone on about the madness that is broad & toad, about the minefield that is tomb, comb and bomb and then there's two/too/to or bye/by/buy. I'm not even going to begin about how there's no egg in eggplant nor apple or pine in pineapple. There's no two ways about it. English is a crazy language.
But even in this mess, we've somehow managed to find a few rules and guidelines that are crazier still. And yes, feel free to correct us as much as you want. We're willing to learn.
The thing about the adjective order is, that even though it sounds like it's a pretty cumbersome rule, if you ever tried describing something with more than one adjective, you'll almost always find yourself arranging the adjectives in the order it's meant to be, or somewhere close to it. Which is why you'll never find any grey, enormous elephants.
Remember those old signs we'd see in medieval age movies? "Ye Olde Tuck-Shoppe". The thing is, the 'y' in "Ye", was actually a 'Þ', or a thorn. And it was pronounced like a 'th'. The only reason the letter changed was because original printing machines were built in France, where they didn't use the letter, so the closest they came to the 'Þ', was a 'Y' (don't ask me, looks like a 'P' if I ever saw one).
The same goes for thee, thine, etc. Like Shakespeare once said, "I thou-est you thrice". Basically, "I call you 'thou' thrice". Oooh, damn. He just put you down, boy!
We all know 'I' comes before 'E' except after 'C'. Except in 'neighbour'. Or 'weigh'. Or 'sleigh'. Or... well, you get the idea. Like we said, if there's a rule, it's probably already been broken.
That's the name for the 'th' sound in most words and even in this, there were two varieties. One was the Voiced Dental Fricative, an example of which is in the word "there" and the second was (you guessed it), the Voiceless Dental Fricative, such as in the word "think". Fun fact: Most languages don't have a Voiced Dental Fricative.
Yep, those things actually have names. And here we were calling them 'hyphen', 'long hyphen' and 'what-the-hell-which-key-did-you-press-to-get-that?'. Of course all the pedants out there will point out that these aren't exclusive to the English language.
This is less an unknown rule and more a clarifier (is that even a word) for all us confused souls out there. When a compound subject is separated by or or nor, the verb always agrees in number with the closest noun.
This is something you only realise when you learn another language. English has no separate words for 'we: including the listener' and 'we: excluding the listener'.
This is probably best described with an example. An example of a sentence in the subjunctive would be, "I recommend that he play football". Whereas an example of the same sentence in the indicative would be, "I hope he plays football". Yep, it's still confusing to us too.
So yes, those are a few of the most obscure rules and names we could find. Do you have any more?
Design Credit: Aroop Mishra