7

I often meet "and" being used with adjectives when speaking of a singular object.

  • He has blond and curly hair.
    Instead of: He has blond curly hair.
  • She is an attractive and young woman.
    Instead of: She is an attractive young woman.

Are they correct?

  • 1
    I would say that sometimes, it's used for emphasis and other times, it's just used for cadence and other times, it's just because of what people are used to. – Teacher KSHuang Mar 16 '17 at 11:57
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    I would go more with JonMark Perry's answer. Also, you need a comma between the two adjectives. – Teacher KSHuang Mar 21 '17 at 11:57
3
+50

The use of the conjunction and between adjectives is superfluous, which Merriam-Webster define as:

beyond what is needed; not necessary

To avoid this, replace with a comma:

He has blond, curly hair.

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  • Still I see that nobody exactly knows what is right and what is wrong. – SovereignSun Mar 21 '17 at 12:02
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    @SovereignSun, there is no right or wrong, it's a matter of style. If you believe it might be right, you should stay positive and ask why it might be right. The question is indecisive because "and" as a particle confers so little meaning that the interpretation is literally subject to context. "blond-curly" can be almost seen as a single word, completely idiomatic, like a name, whereas "blond and curly hair" is a phrase that could also mean "blond hair and curly hair" because nobody says "blond or curly". or is logical XOR, and is logical OR, <none> is AND, see binary logic Boolean algebra – Hector von Mar 21 '17 at 18:07
  • @Hectorvon I am a programmer so I know logic. – SovereignSun Mar 21 '17 at 18:08
  • correction: <none> or comma (I am not sure). nothing in between almost applies the first to the second adjective, so it should be an adverb. Without the inflection of an adverb the meaning is still there, but curlyly (what?) hair makes sense because the pattern adds to the shimmering appearance of the color. – Hector von Mar 21 '17 at 18:17
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    @SovereignSun, I see your SQL questions. Relational Algebra (not quite SQL) is even closer to home. Without being too serious: "and" is like a join where it isn't needed and takes more computation time, Normal Forms should also exist in natural language as well. – Hector von Mar 21 '17 at 18:26
2

In your examples, the use of the conjunction and gives emphasis to the additional adjectives and may be understood in the following way

He has blond and curly hair.
Not only is his hair blond, but it is curly as well.

She is an attractive and young woman.
Not only is she an attractive woman, but she is also young.

The adjectives may be complimentary or very dissimilar

She is pretty and smart.
She is attractive and has brains.

He is handsome and evil.
He is good looking, but he is evil.

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  • Good answer, but I would add that "attractive and young" is not a typical construction, as it's very rare that you would want to emphasize the two qualities distinct from each other. It would be far more common to simply say that "She is an attractive young woman." You are correct in everything else, though. – Richard Winters Mar 16 '17 at 1:27
  • I hadn't downvoted this or anything, but I feel like sometimes, "He has blond and curly hair" simply means "He has blonde hair" and "He has curly hair," no? What do you think? And perhaps because the example sentences in the original post had been in italics, it had misled us to believe that there had been an emphasis where there is not always one? – Teacher KSHuang Mar 16 '17 at 11:55
  • Also, as an aside, had you meant "complementary"? – Teacher KSHuang Mar 16 '17 at 11:58
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    @RichardWinters I don't think that's the problem. The real reason is that like 'fish and chips' the order of the binomial "young and attractive" is fixed. We don't say "chips and fish" and we don't say "attractive and young". "He is young and attractive" is perfectly idiomatic. You might find this post interesting – Araucaria - Not here any more. Mar 16 '17 at 12:52
  • So is this all absolutely right? – SovereignSun Mar 16 '17 at 13:42

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