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consider this: I want to take a nice long bath.

I have read the rules about adjectives (we put commas between coordinate adjectives) but one thing that confuses me is I'm not sure if the word "nice" is modifying "long" or "bath" or both. I suppose if both adjectives are modifying bath only, then I can say "a nice, long bath" or "a nice, long vacation" or whatever.

Thanks.

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It depends entirely on what you're trying to say.

  1. a nice, long vacation
    This is a vacation that is both nice and long.
    If you use a comma, then you are using coordinate adjectives, where two different adjectives modify a single noun. In such a case, the meaning is the same if you replace the comma with and.
  2. a nice long vacation
    This is a long vacation that is nice.
    If there is no comma, then you are using cumulative adjectives, where the first adjective modifies the thing described by the combined second adjective and noun.

For more information about coordinate adjectives and cumulative adjectives, you can refer to "Commas with Adjectives: When do you put commas between adjectives?" by Bonnie Mills.

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