The Editorial Apartment

Would you like your drink with or without the comma?

Leave a comment

One of the trickiest commas is the comma in between two or more adjectives that modify a noun. Is my hot chocolate a warming at-home beverage, or is it a warming, at-home beverage? This could be a matter of opinion, but I think most people might leave the comma out, which would make the two adjectives noncoordinating, i.e., one is subordinate to the other.

However, my good friend from Barcelona, Spain, likes to have a small, rich caffe latte to feel at home. The drink should come in a small cup and the coffee should be rich, in comparison to the typical American cup of coffee that is. The two adjectives, small and rich, are coordinating, or equal in status. Use a comma.

It’s clearer with some pairs of adjectives: I enjoyed a refreshing cucumber drink at a French restaurant in Guanajuato, Mexico. No comma.

How do you know when to use a comma or when not to? If the adjectives coordinate, then put the comma in. If not, leave the comma out. The Purdue Online Writing Lab gives some clarity (see item 6).

Advertisements

Author: copyeditorgwen

I am a copy editor and my office is my apartment. I copyedit or proofread a wide range of digital and print marketing communications, as well as books and textbooks. Contact me if you need editorial help. My rates are reasonable, my work thorough, my turnaround fast. Visit my WordPress website: copyeditorgwen.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s