Thursday, November 17, 2016

Writing Help: Multiple Adjectives

What do you do when you want to describe a noun with multiple adjectives?  For example, I want to write:

He was an old red-faced balding man.

Where do I put the commas?

Before adding commas, it's important to note that there's an order to the adjectives.  I never knew that before.  But according to ORDERING MULTIPLE ADJECTIVES, here's the order (depending on the function of the adjective):

Quantity (like a few, six, several)
Value/opinion (like lovely, charming, beautiful)
Size (like tall, small, big)
Temperature (like hot, warm, cold)
Age (like old, young, 35-year-old, new)
Shape (like square, hexagonal, round)
Color (like blue, red, white)
Origin (like Chinese, Greek, Victorian)
Material (like marble, wooden, silver)


As for commas, (see Commas with Adjectives) adding them depends on what kind of adjectives they are.  

If they're coordinate adjectives (they describe the noun, and you can put an 'and' in between the adjectives and it makes sense), then you need a comma. Also, the adjectives can be rearranged and it'll still make sense.

If the 'and' doesn't make sense (the adjectives describe each other instead of just the noun), then don't put the comma.  These are called cumulative adjectives.

Also, never put a comma after the last adjective in the group.

Examples:  

He was a tall, blond man.  (coordinate adjective--tall and blond could be switched around).
She wore a white wool sweater.  (cumulative adjective--white and wool can't be switched around to make sense.)
So, for my sentence above, there should be commas, since I can move the adjectives around to still make sense.

He was an old, red-faced, balding man.
Good luck!

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books

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Reference:

Commas with Adjectives
ORDERING MULTIPLE ADJECTIVES
Extended Rules for Using Commas

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