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Home/Common Mistakes/Grammar/Adjectives/Commas with adjectives

Commas with adjectives

Compare these two sentences:

  • They visited a beautiful, decorated house.
  • They visited a beautiful medieval house.

The adjectives in the first sentence (beautiful, decorated) have a comma between them because they are equal. They are called co-ordinate adjectives.

The adjectives in the second sentence (beautiful, medieval) don’t have a comma between them because they aren’t equal. They are called cumulative adjectives.

There are two test to help you decide if you need a comma or not between the adjectives.

Test One

Replace the comma with the word and. If the sentence makes sense then a comma is needed.

  • They visited a beautiful, decorated house.
    They visited a beautiful and decorated house.
    (makes sense/comma needed)
  • They visited a beautiful medieval house.
    They visited a beautiful and medieval house.
    (doesn’t make sense/no comma)

Test Two

Reverse the order of the adjectives. If the sentence makes sense then a comma is needed.

  • They visited a beautiful, decorated house.
    They visited a decorated, beautiful house.
    (makes sense/comma needed)
  • They visited a beautiful medieval house
    They visited a medieval beautiful house
    (doesn’t make sense/no comma)

When a word is repeated, a comma separates the repeated word.

  • Many, many children enjoy sport at school.

There is never a comma between the last adjective and the noun it refers to.

  • They visited a beautiful, decorated, house.
    They visited a beautiful, decorated house.