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Cumulative Adjectives Options
Posted: Tuesday, January 14, 2020 12:00:00 AM
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Cumulative Adjectives

When multiple adjectives are used in a sentence, they are sometimes separated by commas. What are "cumulative adjectives," and why aren't they separated by commas? More...
Adyl Mouhei
Posted: Tuesday, January 14, 2020 6:03:23 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 5/1/2017
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How to Order Cumulative Adjectives in a Sentence

Cumulative adjectives are two or more adjectives that build upon each other to describe a noun. However, they aren't randomly placed to modify the noun. Rather, they follow a specific order. One adjective follows the other in a sequence. Here's an example:

Would you like to read this colorful Shakespearean sonnet?

In this sentence, "colorful" and "Shakespearean" are adjectives, modifying the noun "sonnet." "Colorful" is a descriptive adjective and "Shakespearean" is a proper adjective.

What's important, however, is the placement. The sentence wouldn't make sense if we switched the order of the adjectives. That's our first clue about how to order cumulative adjectives in a sentence.

Cumulative Adjectives
Did you notice anything about our comma usage in the Shakespearean sonnet example? We didn't forget to add a comma. Rather, cumulative adjectives don't require commas between descriptors. Here's another example:

This is a marvelous old Italian villa."

You'd think a string of modifiers would require commas, but not in the case of cumulative adjectives. Let's try to shift around the order of these adjectives: "This is an old Italian marvelous villa." It just doesn't work.

In the first example, each modifier builds upon the next. You may argue that "marvelous" and "old" could be switched around but there is a strict order of cumulative adjectives. Matters of opinion, (like "marvelous") come before matters of age (like "old").

The Correct Order of Cumulative Adjectives
Don't let all this talk about multiple adjectives leave you questioning your writing. If you're ever unsure about how to stack your adjectives, know there's a checklist you can follow. Feel free to return to the chart whenever you're in doubt. Consider it a hierarchy of importance.
Wilmar (USA) 1M
Posted: Tuesday, January 14, 2020 9:02:54 AM

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I'm not at all certain that this lesson was written by a native-English speaker.
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