Commas and Adjectives

Most adults are famindexiliar with the basic use of commas, but some of the rules (which go on and on and on) are less well known. Take the issue of adjectives. If you use two or more adjectives to describe something, do you put commas between them? The hard and fast rule: it depends. 🙂

 

Mary chose to wear the red, spotted sweater.

In this example, the sentence makes sense if I reverse the adjectives and write ‘spotted, red sweater.’ Also, the sentence works if I put an and between the adjectives and write ‘red and spotted sweater.’ In this case, a comma is needed.

Mary chose to wear Susie’s red sweater.

In this example, the two adjectives (Susie’s and red) cannot be reversed and still make sense. It also makes no sense if you put and between them. No comma.

Why is it important to know this rule? Consider the following sentences.

Tiffany is a pretty tall girl.

Tiffany is a pretty, tall girl.

In the first one, Tiffany is tall. She may or may not be pretty. In the second sentence, Tiffany is pretty and tall. Make sure you write what you mean!

 

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