In English, most adjectives immediately precede the nouns they modify: “blue moon.” Predicate adjectives, however, follow linking verbs, modifying the subject: “The moon is blue.” In rare cases, predicate adjectives may precede the verb for poetic effects of emphasis or rhythm.
Placing the adjective at the beginning of a sentence puts focus on that word. The Beatitudes, a series of blessings by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount, use this approach: “Blessed are the peacemakers … ” In the 20th century, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk promoted the slogan, “How happy is he who can say I am a Turk.”
Rearranging standard word order can also alter a sentence’s rhythm and pacing, important in formal poetry and music. In Johann Strauss’ comic opera “Die Fledermaus,” Alfred announces, “Happy is the person who forgets.” Edgar Allan Poe also uses this technique, as in “The Sleeper”: “Strange is thy pallor! Strange thy dress!”
Jennifer Spirko has been writing professionally for more than 20 years, starting at "The Knoxville Journal." She has written for "MetroPulse," "Maryville-Alcoa Daily Times" and "Some" monthly. She has taught writing at North Carolina State University and the University of Tennessee. Spirko holds a Master of Arts from the Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-on-Avon, England.