My 2 1 2 Year Old Isn T Talking Yet Commas With Pairs of Adjectives

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Commas With Pairs of Adjectives

You have two adjectives together. Put or not comma between them? If they are coordinated adjectives, yes. This follows Eat Zen Rule P.

Comma Rule P: Put a comma between coordinate adjectives.

Definition of Coordinated Adjectives. Adjectives are coordinated if they meet two criteria: (1) You can place e between the two words, and the sentence means the same thing, and (2) You can reverse their order, and the sentence means the same thing.

Sample 1: We had one hot, dry summer

Sample 1 has the adjectives hot e dryboth used to describe summer. If we write We had a hot and dry summer, the sentence makes sense. It also makes sense if we write We had a dry and hot summer. Adjectives meet both criteria, so we know they are coordinated and we put a comma between them.

To native speakers of English, the two sentences reviewed will sound like natural speech, and the two criteria are probably sufficient to identify coordinated adjectives. For a more technical explanation, we can examine Real Order of Adjectives.

(If these criteria and reviews make sense to you, skip the next section and go to Rule Q.)

Definition of Real Order of Adjectives. This is the order in which native English speakers naturally use adjectives in speech and writing. Although there are exceptions, such as to emphasize specific characteristics, this order is generally true.

The Royal Order of Adjectives is as follows.

  1. Determiners: words that indicate which (eg this, the, to, mine, she)
  2. Observations: subjective descriptions (eg fast, decrepit, easy, beautiful, cheap)
  3. Size: physical descriptions of size (eg big, small, huge, minuscule)
  4. Shape: physical descriptions of the shape (e.g. round, square, weak, deformed, long, oblong)
  5. Age: Adjectives indicating age (eg, old, new, three years old, ancient)
  6. Color: Physical descriptions of color (e.g. Red, blue, creamy, hazy, fuchsia)
  7. Nationality: place of origin (eg american, french, european)
  8. Material: what something is made of (eg silk, cardboard, rubber, sand, wood, cream)
  9. Type: The specific type of the thing (eg swaying [horse], digital [phone], acoustic [guitar]); may be considered part of the name of the thing described

The Royal Order of Adjectives indicates that O [determiner] black [color] sand [material] painting it will sound natural but that The black sand paint it won’t be In the same way, she [determiner] big [size] wood [material] ancient [type] clock will sound more natural than His large antique wooden clock.

I don’t have this order memorized, but I don’t need to because I know what feels natural.

The Real Order of Adjectives is important to understanding coordinating adjectives. If you write two or more adjectives of the same type, they will be coordinated, and you will need a comma between them.

Sample 2: I have a fast and cheap car.

For example, fast e cheap they are both adjectives of observation. This means that they are coordinates when used together, as in sample 2, and need a comma. We can also apply both criteria to check this. We can put e among them: I have a fast and cheap car. We can reverse your order: I have a fast and cheap car.

Comma Rule Q: Leave out the comma between adjectives to make them uncoordinated and to change the meaning

A comma between coordinate adjectives indicates that they both describe something equally. In sample 3, fast e cheap describe as well car. However, if you omit the comma, you change the meaning of the sentence.

Sample 3. I have a fast and cheap car.

In sample 3, it still indicates that cheap describe carbut you also indicate it fast describe cheap car. Tell the reader that your cheap car is fast. A fast and cheap car is different from a slow and cheap car, for example. The comma, or its absence, makes a lot of difference in its meaning.

If you are using the Real Order of Adjectives, you will see that when you leave out the comma, cheap it becomes a type adjective, rather than an observational adjective. Cheap is a type of car in sample 3, doing fast e cheap different types of adjectives, and you don’t need a comma.

I know this is confusing, so I’ll summarize the main points.

1) If the two adjectives describe something equally, they will meet both criteria. Put a comma between them.

2) If the first adjective describes the next adjective and thing together, they will not meet both criteria. Do not put commas between them. This brings us to the next rule.

Comma Rule R: Do not put commas between uncoordinated adjectives.

Use the same two criteria to determine whether or not two adjectives are coordinated. If the adjectives do not meet the criteria, do not use a comma. This rule is simply the opposite of the P rule.

Sample 4: A large grizzly bear is loose in the park.

Look at sample 4. There is no comma between big e brown. If we change their order, as in A big grizzly bear, it doesn’t make sense, or at least it changes the meaning of the sentence. That is why we know that these two adjectives are not coordinated, and we do not put a comma between them. If we use the Real Order of Adjectives, we also realize that these are different types of adjectives.

Exhibit 5: The original American flag is on display.

The two adjectives in sample 5 are not coordinated. We can’t write the original American flag or The original, American flag without changing the meaning of the sentence. Thus, adjectives do not pass the two criteria, so we do not put a comma between them.

If you are using the Real Order of Adjectives, you can see that these are different types of adjectives. original is an adjective of observation, and american is an adjective of nationality. They are of different types, so they don’t need a comma.

Comma rule S: do not put a comma between an adjective and what it describes.

Commas separate things. However, adjectives should not be separated from the things they describe. For this reason, do not use a comma between the final adjective and the noun it describes, regardless of how many adjectives you use.

Sample 6: These old, red, wooden frames are still my favorite. (This sample is incorrect).

Surprisingly, this mistake is common, yet so easy to avoid. If there are no words between the adjectives and the word being described, you will never need a comma in that position.

In sample 6, for example, the adjectives are describing paintings. There are no words between the final adjective wood e paintingsso there should be no commas.

learn more

Need help with commas? get Eat Zenan instructive reference guide to the top 17 uses and misuses of commas.

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