Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Grammar Guru- Using Adjectives

Welcome to Inside the Publishing World. Today I have some more grammar tips for authors from Grammar Guru, Terry Deighton.

The order of adjectives in a sentence. Generally, in English the order is:

Quantity or number
Quality or opinion
Proper adjective (nationality, other place of origin, or material)
Purpose or qualifier

With all those adjectives floating around how do you get the comma placements right?

The comma rule comes down to the difference between two kinds of adjectives: coordinate adjectives and cumulative adjectives. Coordinate adjectives are adjectives in a row that each separately modify the noun that follows such as heavy, bulky box. You can rearrange the adjectives too as is bulky, heavy box.

Cumulative adjectives don't separately modify the noun. The adjective right before the noun pairs with the noun as a unit. The adjective modifies the unit.

An example- In the phrase "exquisite custom houseboat," "custom" modifies "houseboat." They become a unit, and then "exquisite" modifies "custom houseboat." Here you can't rearrange the adjectives as we did for "heavy, bulky box." "Custom exquisite houseboat" is awkward, and it's awkward precisely because you can't rearrange the cumulative adjectives.

Use a comma if you can put "and" between the adjectives.

About Terry Deighton
Terry Deighton lives in Washington, the state not D.C., with her husband, Al. Their six children are grown and gone, and pets tend to complicate life. When she is not visiting her children and grandchildren, writing and revising, again and again, she works as a substitute teacher.


  1. Grammarly Cost
    Language is an important part of expressing ourselves to the whole world. It is needed while we are speaking to someone and also when we are writing something. The language that we talk often tends to have colloquialisms, and the grammar isn't always perfect. But it does reflect into our writings. Along with that, we aren't always able to write in perfect grammar.