There are some phrases in the English language that just...sound right, you know? "Tick tock" has a much better flow than "tock tick," and "chat chit" — as opposed to "chit chat" — feels downright wrong.
Like, we'd never say we played "pong ping" while listening to "hop hip" and eating a "Kat Kit" after watching "Kong King," even though that actually sounds like a great time.
But have you ever thought about why all of that is? Is it simply because we're used to saying those things a certain way? Or is it a language rule that we don't realize that we know?
Well, we have an answer! According to writer Mark Forsyth, it's the latter. There's a little thing called "the rule of ablaut reduplication," he wrote in an article for the BBC, and it governs how we order words.
"If there are three words then the order has to go I, A, O. If there are two words then the first is I and the second is either A or O," he added.
It's kind of like the new "I before E, except after C," except with a much fancier name.
But that's not all! Forsyth has also gained attention for pointing out another rule of English that most people likely don't think twice about — the proper order of adjectives.
“Adjectives in English absolutely have to be in this order: opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose Noun," Forsyth writes. That's why you'd never ask if anyone's afraid of the "Bad Big Wolf."
"It’s an odd thing that every English speaker uses that list, but almost none of us could write it out.” Until now!
So there you have it! You've been faithfully following a rule of English, and you probably didn't even know it! Bet you feel all smug and erudite now, don't you?