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Commas and adjectives

Commas separate adjectives when those adjectives belong to the same category: determiner, opinion, size, age, shape, color, ​origin and material. So two adjectives that are both opinions (a mushy, sticky apple) should have a comma between them, but two adjectives that are an opinion and color (a mushy green apple) should not.

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  • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user DDC Q
    Hello, everyone!
    I have a question and I need someone to help me: When David and Paige talked about the 1.Consult DOSA-SCOMP; 2.Reverse the adjectives; 3.Add an 'and' for Coordinate Adjectives,
    ( 1 ) . why and when should one do the 2nd step ? Why the adjectives should be reversed? Since sticky and mushy are both in the category or class of Opinion, why do you do that reverse? Since the 1st step is relatively a strict order, is that also make the 2nd step a necessary step to build a correct sentence?
    (2) . In the 3rd step, when they were introducing the Coordinate Adjective concept, David changed the comma into an "and" in the video, but at he said that we need to add a comma between Coordinate Adjectives. I am confused, could someone help me explain these two questions, please?

    Thanks!
    (15 votes)
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    • primosaur seed style avatar for user Angel
      I'll try my best to answer both of these.

      1) Let's say you have two adjectives, so you do the first step and consult DOSASCOMP. You think to yourself that the adjectives are in the same category, but you aren't positive. This is where you try reversing the adjectives. If you can reverse the order and it still makes sense, then it's in the same category. To further clarify, if they are in the same category, the order does not matter. If you are a native English speaker it should sound right or wrong to you.
      2) Let's say the reversal method still leaves you doubtful. When two adjectives are in the same category, you have to separate them with a comma. BUT! you can also use the word "and" as a sort of testing method. Think about how it would sound with "and" between them.

      To conclude. if you're writing a paper and you want to use two adjectives in one of your sentences, you should go through the 3 steps in your head. First, consult DOSASCOMP. If you think they are in the same category of DOSASCOMP, try reversing the adjectives. If the adjectives sound right when said aloud in both orders, you can stop there, but if you still have doubt, you can move onto step 3! Finally, Step 3 is the last testing method. Try adding "and" between the two and see if that helps clarify. If you're still stuck, try looking up the definitions of the two adjectives and compare them to the DOSASCOMP chart.

      Hope this helps, and sorry for the length.
      (19 votes)
  • starky ultimate style avatar for user ChargerX
    What does each order (specifically) really mean, because the names are so broad:

    Determiner-
    Opinion-
    Size-
    Age-
    Shape-
    Color-
    Origin-
    Material-
    Propose-

    It would really help a lot, thanks.
    (5 votes)
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    • aqualine tree style avatar for user David Alexander
      A "determiner" limits it's object in some way, distinguishing it from all other things.
      An "opinion" declares an observer's idea about the matter in question.
      A "size" indicates whether something is large, small, or to some degree in-between those poles.
      "Age" gives a time frame for how long the thing has been extant.
      "Shape" is a physical property of an object.
      "Color" will help a reader in determining how her eyes will perceive the thing.
      "Origin" speaks to the provenance of the thing.
      "Material" will tell us what something physically consists of.
      "Purpose" leads us to understand it's function.
      (14 votes)
  • piceratops tree style avatar for user Joel Swaim
    In the exercise, there was the sentence "I want a cute tiny sloth as a pet, but I don't think that's allowed," asking whether there should be a comma between "cute" and "tiny." The answer was that there should be a comma in between them, but they don't seem to be coordinate adjectives. Wouldn't "cute" be opinion and "tiny" be size?
    (9 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user turtleguy5
    Can you explain why little or huge, like what was in the exercises, are not in the size category?
    (6 votes)
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    • duskpin sapling style avatar for user Kaileigh Row
      Little and huge are subjective terms. Depending on context and the speaker's background, one person may consider something to be huge when someone else may think that something even bigger should be defined as huge instead. For example, if you see a crocodile at the zoo, you might say it's huge, whereas the zookeeper might say it's medium-sized. Both are valid given that both people have a different understanding of what makes a crocodile huge.
      (9 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user Freckledfrog
    On this question below, why are "cute" and "tiny" supposed to be in the same category?
    Doesn't the word "tiny" describe the size?

    "I want a cute tiny sloth as a pet, but I don't think that's allowed."
    (5 votes)
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  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Gabriel Jonas
    Would color and opinion be similar or the same in certain areas? Let's say me and a friend looked at a suit. I may say "That's a pretty blue suit" but my friend may say "No, the suit is clearly purple". In an instance such as this, would opinion and color be one in the same, or would they remain different?


    Thank you for reading.
    (5 votes)
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    • female robot amelia style avatar for user Johanna
      As you suggest, color is somewhat subjective and opinion-based because it's so tied to how people perceive it. You could probably consider color as a subset of opinion, though, and put it in the order the video suggests.

      Hope this helps!
      (4 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user Selene Puget
    so in the practice of adjectives order there was a questions that read:
    A (dark, scary) room. Or A (scary,dark) room. To me both of these can be opinions but in the practice it said that scary dark order was right. Why is that when both can be an opinion?
    (4 votes)
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    • aqualine tree style avatar for user David Alexander
      Ah, you caught our teacher implying a rule where there is only an opinion. You are sharp, Selene.
      What I've advised people to do with this "adjectives order" thing is to write a bunch of random adjectives, some in each of the "DOSA SCOMP" categories, onto little bits of paper and mix them up in a bowl. Then, without any reference to "DOSA SCOMP" to draw out several and put them in an order that feels comfortable and contains no contradictions to describe, perhaps, a cat. If it feels comfortable and is not internally contradictory, it can instill a feel for language while being jolly good fun.
      (4 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user @AM126
    I have read multiple of the comments regarding DOSA - SCOMP but I’m confused is the DOSA - SCOMP rule a rule or just what you could/should put in a sentence?
    (4 votes)
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  • leaf blue style avatar for user Martin Jurča
    Why should you put a comma between cute and tiny in this sentence from the practice?

    "I want a cute tiny sloth as a pet, but I don't think that's allowed."

    It seems to me that cute is an OPINION and tiny si in the SIZE CATEGORY.

    Or are those words acting like OPINIONS in this particular case?
    (3 votes)
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    • aqualine tree style avatar for user David Alexander
      DOSASCOMP is a handy tool, and David Rheinstrom presents it well. My opinion is that one need not keep it in mind all the time, but merely internalize it by creating lists of adjectives and then putting them in front of nouns in random order, then sorting out the mess. Certain patterns will just "naturally" sound better, and most of those will generally conform to DOSASCOMP. The point for all of us is not to "learn some rule or formula", but to internalize
      some ways of operating linguistically which enhance comprehensibility. Here's an exercise to consider. Write 250 random adjectives on little pieces of paper (one adjective per piece of paper). Put these slips of paper in a hat. Create a phrase in which the adjectives will be used, but leave a blank space for them. For example, "The _, _, _, _, chair." Then draw four adjectives randomly from the hat and arrange them in a way that communicates pleasingly. Pay no attention to the Adjective order suggested in the lesson. Let what pleases you be your standard. Good enough.
      Remember, this is not a rule, but a convention. It may change in the next 100 years. You only bother to learn it so that your own use of language sounds more natural.
      Focus on "communication" rather than on correctness".
      (4 votes)
  • sneak peak green style avatar for user Maiki
    What about words like misty or damp? for example: "It was a misty, damp morning".
    (4 votes)
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Video transcript

- [David] Hey grammarians, hey Paige. - [Paige] Hi David. - [David] Hey, so Paige, I went to the grocery store yesterday and I got this apple and I put it in the fridge. And this morning, when I opened the fridge, the apple was all gross and sticky and mushy and I really wanna write a letter to the grocery store and say, "Hey, you sold me a gross apple." - [Paige] Yeah. - [David] But I'm stuck. - [Paige] Okay? - [David] I feel like I ought to put a comma in here. So, here's the sentence I've got so far. "You sold me a mushy, sticky apple!" - [Paige] Gross. - [David] Gross. - [David] Unacceptable. - [Paige] Totally. - [David] "So, I would like my $1.38 back." (Paige laughs) But in another draft of the letter, I wrote, "You sold me a mushy green apple!" - [Paige] Okay, so mushy, sticky or mushy green. - [David] Yeah, and I feel like, and I don't know how to put this into words yet, but we're gonna put it into words 'cause that's our job, (Paige laughs) whether or not there should be a comma between mushy and green or mushy and sticky, 'cause these feel different to me. - [Paige] Right, right. Yeah, so there's actually a couple tests that you can do on these sentences to see if you need a comma between the adjectives or not. - [David] So, Paige, what distinguishes a pair like mushy and sticky from mushy and green? - [Paige] There's this sort of hierarchy or order that you put adjectives in when you have multiple of them in a sentence, and it is called DOSASCOMP. - [David] DOSASCOMP? All together now, D - [Both] Determiner! - [David] O. - [Both] Opinion! - [David] S. - [Both] Size! - [David] A. - [Both] Age! - [David] S again. - [Both] Shape! - [David] C. - [Both] Color! - [David] O. - [Both] Origin! - [David] M. - [Both] Material! - [David] And P. - [Both] Purpose! - [David] Oh, okay. So, mushy and sticky are both opinion adjectives. - [Paige] Yeah. - [David] So, these are kinda in the same class, whereas mushy and green, that's an opinion and a color. - [Paige] Yeah, they're in two different classes. - [David] Right, so DOSASCOMP helps determine adjective order, right? - [Paige] Yeah, yeah. - [David] So, it's the order in which you would use, if in which you were stacking these adjectives you would use them in this DOSASCOMP order. - [Paige] Right, so like in the second sentence, mushy is an opinion, like you said, and green is a color. And in DOSASCOMP, opinion comes before color, so that's the order that you write them in. So, like in the first sentence, when you have mushy and sticky, which are both opinion adjectives, these are called coordinate adjectives. They're in the same category of DOSASCOMP. And if you wanted to, you could reverse the order. You could say, "Sticky, mushy apple." - [David] Well, let's try that. - [Paige] Yeah. - [David] Looks good to me. Sticky, mushy, mushy, sticky. - [Paige] Same thing. - [David] Okay, so if we're trying to determine whether or not we have coordinate adjectives, I guess the first thing we would do is consult DOSASCOMP, right? So that's step one. And what is a dosa, Paige? - [Paige] Oh, it's like a pancake, right? - [David] Yeah, it's like a South Indian pancake. - [Paige] That's pretty cool. - [David] And to scomp is a word we made up that means, "to eat." - [Paige] Sure, eat some pancakes. - [David] Scomp on 'em. So, that's step one. Step two, try the reversal method. - [Paige] Right, and that's like changing it from mushy, sticky to sticky, mushy. - [David] And step three is stick an "and" in there. - [Paige] Mm-hmm. If you can reverse the order of the adjectives and you can put "and" in between the two of them, then they're coordinate adjectives. - [David] And if they're coordinate adjectives, you need to separate them with a comma. - [Paige] Exactly. And that's why, in the case of the second sentence, with mushy green apple, you don't put a comma between them. They're in different categories in DOSASCOMP, and so they must stay in that order and there's no need for a comma. - [David] Thanks, Paige. I'm gonna get back to drafting my angry letter. (Paige laughs) You can learn anything. - [David] David out. - [Paige] Paige out.