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Adjectives and Adverbs

Rule 9:
Separate consecutive adjectives
with a comma.

As we mentioned earlier, if two or more adjectives provide separate descriptions of the noun or pronoun, they are called consecutive adjectives. Because they do not act as a single unit to provide just one description of the noun, they are not joined into a single unit with hyphens. Instead, they are separated with a comma.

Examples:

• It was a clear, sunny day. (two descriptions of day, clear and sunny)
• He submitted a long, poorly written report. (two descriptions of report, long and poorly written)

As you learned earlier, an easy way to decide whether you should put a comma between two adjectives is to separate the adjectives with the word and. If the word and makes sense, and sounds right to you, put a comma between the adjectives. Of course, you can leave the and between them if you want; in that case, you should leave the comma out.

Examples:

• The new (,?) inexpensive information appliance. . .

"New and inexpensive information appliance" sounds right, so we should put a comma between new and inexpensive:

• The new, inexpensive information appliance. . .

• His adjusted gross income. . .

"Adjusted and gross income" does not sound right, so we should not put a comma between adjusted and gross.

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