"Publish and prosper" is a series of posts about tips for researchers whose first language is not English but who submit papers to journals published in English. The series touches upon not only writing (spelling, grammar, punctuation, usage, and style) but everything else relevant to publishing research papers that journal editors wish their authors knew.
Examine the following two sets of examples, one with commas and the other without them. • a fertile, well-drained, and level piece With of land • a large, nocturnal, and furry rodent Commas • a shiny, hard, smooth, and thick layer • the cheapest technically feasible Without solution • a locally grown early-maturing commas cultivar http://www.facebook.com/Editage
What the two sets of examples have in common is that both consist of phrases that end in a noun,which is described by a string of adjectives before the noun. Yet, the adjectives in one set are separated by commas; the adjectives in the second set are not. Why? http://www.facebook.com/Editage
In the first set, each adjective qualifies the noun separately or independently • a fertile, well-drained, and level piece of land With • a large, nocturnal, and furry rodent commas • a shiny, hard, smooth, and thick layerIn a string of such adjectives, sometimes referred to as coordinate adjectives,you can:1. re-arrange the adjectives (list them in a different order)2. replace every comma that separates two adjacent adjectives with and3. yet produce a phrase that means the same as the original and does not sound odd. http://www.facebook.com/Editage
In the second set, the examples cannot be reworded and re- arranged so easily Without • the cheapest technically feasible solution • a locally grown early-maturing cultivar commasThe examples cannot be reworded and re-arranged so easily without affecting themeaning or without sounding odd because two adjacent adjectives form a unit.Often, each adjective or a pair of adjectives modifies not just the noun but the rest ofthe noun phrase. http://www.facebook.com/Editage
In the second set, the examples cannot be reworded and re- arranged so easily Without • the cheapest technically feasible solution • a locally grown early-maturing cultivar commasIn the first example, cheapest modifies technically feasiblesolution and technically feasible modifies solution but "a technically feasiblecheapest solution" or "a cheapest and technically and feasible solution" isneither idiomatic nor correct.In the second example, locally and grown form one unit,while early and maturing form another; The first unit modifies the second. http://www.facebook.com/Editage
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