Adjectives in a Series
There are several different types of adjectives: quantitative, demonstrative, possessive, interrogative, distributive, and more. When talking about writing adjectives in a series, we are talking specifically about descriptive adjectives.
An adjective is a word used to describe a noun. Sometimes, adjectives can appear in a series paired with another adjective. When two adjectives are paired together, you may need to use a comma to separate them depending on their likeness.
Descriptive adjectives can be a variety of things, including feelings, time, sound, quantity, taste, appearance, size, age, color, shape, or material. When writing a sentence with multiple descriptive adjectives, adjectives that express opinion should be placed in sequence before adjectives that describe things like color, size, shape, age, etc. Additionally, adjectives that are more general in nature should come in sequence before adjectives that are more specific.
Opinion: The raccoon crawled through an unsightly, narrow, old pathway under the highway.
General/Specific: A rustic, gold, Egyptian pot was recently found.
A great way to test whether or not you need to use a comma between adjectives in your sentence is to try inserting and or but between the adjectives. If you can place and or but between your adjectives, that means they are coordinating adjectives and need a comma placed between them. If you cannot easily place and or but between the adjectives, that means they are cumulative and just add different kinds of description rather than contributing similar attributes to the same thing.
Another way you can test your sentence for the necessity of a comma is to switch the order of your adjectives. Yes, there is a sort of understood order to how they should be placed in the sentence, but for checking purposes it’s okay to switch them. If you can switch the order of the adjectives while using and or but, that is another sure sign that a comma is necessary for your adjectives.
The order in which adjectives should be placed in a sentence is as follows:
Placing adjectives in this order helps to maintain readability in your sentences.