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What is the proper order and use of commas in this sentence and how strict is it? I feel this is correct, but want to hear from other native speakers since English is complicated and sometimes different elsewhere.

  1. These are small round red radishes.
  2. These radishes are small, round and red.
  3. These are small roundish red radishes.
  4. These radishes are small, roundish and red.
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    Which of the four do you think is right? Are you saying you think they all are right? Commented May 20, 2022 at 5:00
  • Yes, I feel they are all correct. But want to know how others feel. Do I need a comma after small? And/Or is either way OK (comma or no comma). And even comma after round? Just not 100%.
    – GreenKhan
    Commented May 20, 2022 at 5:33
  • Does this answer your question? comma position in a list of subjects. I'm pretty sure there is a duplicate of your question, but you seem to compare different phrasings, so I feel your question could also be closed as needing more focus.
    – Joachim
    Commented May 20, 2022 at 6:20
  • Nope because LIST commas are very easy...but using adjectives before a word is slightly different than a basic list. Especially in the case where 2 adjectives are from the same group WHICH requires a comma. That's why I chose 3 adjectives in separate categories.
    – GreenKhan
    Commented May 20, 2022 at 6:30
  • This is a duplicate the Q @Joachim identifies, but the explanation in that Q is so focused on the specific context of the example sentences that it's difficult to see why. In practical terms, a list is a list is a list. It doesn't matter if it's a list of adjectives, a list of organizations, or a list of occupations, and it doesn't matter where the list occurs. For more info, see this explanation of adjective order.
    – JBH
    Commented May 31, 2022 at 23:06

2 Answers 2

1

The use of commas in lists is controversial, as shown here:

Oxford comma

I myself choose to use commas consistently like this:

These are small, round, red radishes.

When the words or or and appear before the last item in the list, this practice eliminates the ambiguity shown in the linked article. I'll take consistency over ambiguity any day.

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  • So I am kinda correct stating that there are many opinions of its usage. So would absolutely no commas be OK?
    – GreenKhan
    Commented May 20, 2022 at 6:28
  • I would call it unusual. One of the characters in Patrick O'Bryan's Aubrey-Maturin novels utters a sentence with perhaps as many as 10 adjectives in a row without a single comma. The effect was humorous. But that's not the impression you ordinarily would wish to convey. Commented May 20, 2022 at 9:28
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You asked about the order and I am unsure if you mean the order in which you have the adjectives, so I'm going to assume that that's what you meant and answer it (the comma part has already been answered). There's a rule of precedence for adjectives in English that native speakers use subconsciously but most are probably not aware is formalised. The rule is explained at https://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/adjectives-order. As an example, to a native English speaker, "big red bus" sounds correct, but "red big bus" just sounds completely wrong.

You correctly ordered the three adjectives in your sentence as:

  1. small
  2. round
  3. red

(caveat: this is for British English, I have no knowledge of other variants)

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