Commas, Part 3



In “Commas, Parts 1 and 2,” we gave you four rules for how to use a comma. In this lesson, we’ll examine a more advanced concept for using the comma.

Rule: Use a comma to separate two adjectives when the adjectives are interchangeable.

Examples:
He is a strong, healthy man.
We could also say a healthy, strong man.

We stayed at an expensive summer resort.
We would not say summer expensive resort, so no comma.

NOTE: Words ending in -ly are not always adverbs. Many adjectives also end in -ly (e.g., lonely, friendly, kindly (may be an adverb or an adjective), family (may be a noun or an adjective). To test whether an -ly word is an adjective, see if it can be used alone with the noun.

Examples:
Felix was a lonely, confused boy. (Lonely is an adjective because it can be used alone with boy.)
I get headaches in brightly lit rooms. (Brightly is not an adjective because it cannot be used alone with rooms; therefore, no comma is used between brightly and lit.)

Pop Quiz
Choose the sentence with the correct punctuation. Answers are at the bottom.

1A. Juanita has grown up to be a lovely, intelligent woman.
1B. Juanita has grown up to be a lovely intelligent woman.

2A. Be careful before walking on the hot, sharp lava.
2B. Be careful before walking on the hot sharp lava.

3A. That was a wonderfully, delicious dinner we had last night.
3B. That was a wonderfully delicious dinner we had last night.

4A. Edward seems very proud of his bright, red car.
4B. Edward seems very proud of his bright red car.

 

Pop Quiz Answers

1A. Juanita has grown up to be a lovely, intelligent woman.
2A. Be careful before walking on the hot, sharp lava.
3B. That was a wonderfully delicious dinner we had last night.
4B. Edward seems very proud of his bright red car.

 

Posted on Saturday, November 24, 2012, at 12:41 pm

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4 Comments on Commas, Part 3

4 responses to “Commas, Part 3”

  1. CW says:

    We could also say healthy, strong man.

    Would this be a healthy and strong man or a healthy “strong man”?

  2. Taylor S says:

    Is this correct?
    I was born on a chilly, Tuesday afternoon.
    Or should I leave out the comma? I feel as if Tuesday might be an adjective in this case as it helps describe the afternoon. If that is the case, I know that when using more than one adjective you need to put a comma between them. For example: He rode the big, yellow bus.
    My gut says it should not have a comma. Thank you for your time!

    • As per the rule above and our Rule 2 of Commas, “Use a comma to separate two adjectives when the order of the adjectives is interchangeable.” The order in your examples is not interchangeable. You would not write “Tuesday chilly afternoon” or “yellow big bus.” Therefore, no comma is necessary in either case.

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