Coordinate and Noncoordinate Adjectives Exercise (434)

In each sentence, delete the comma if it is not required.

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: Euthanasia is justified for people suffering from an excruciatingly painful, terminal disease.
Correct : Euthanasia is justified for people suffering from an excruciatingly painful terminal disease.

If the order of two or more adjectives preceding a noun can be shifted, separate the adjectives with a comma. Because one would not write "an excruciatingly terminal painful disease," "painful" and "terminal" are not coordinate and thus do not require a comma between them.

2.
Original: We shared a plate of tasty, barbecued short ribs.
Correct : We shared a plate of tasty barbecued short ribs.

"Tasty" is not equivalent to and interchangeable with "barbecued" (or "short") -- it describes the barbecued short ribs -- so no comma is required, just as no comma is necessary between "barbecued" and "short."

3.
Original: They ventured out into the cold, rainy night.
Correct : They ventured out into the cold, rainy night.

"Cold" and rainy" are coordinate -- one could also write "rainy, cold night" (though the more natural order, "cold, rainy night" is more common) -- so the comma is necessary.

4.
Original: She had a mild, easygoing demeanor.
Correct : She had a mild, easygoing demeanor.

"Mild" and "easygoing" are interchangeable, so retain the comma.

5.
Original: I stepped on a small, plastic toy in the dark hallway.
Correct : I stepped on a small plastic toy in the dark hallway.

"Small" modifies "plastic toy" and is therefore not equivalent to "plastic"; one would not write "a plastic small toy."

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