In this blog, there are two sentences as follows:

  1. She had a deep, religious experience.

  2. She had a deep religious experience.

However, the blog fails to clarify the nuance. I think that in the first sentence, the experience is religious and unusual while in the second, the religious meaning of her experience is very deep. Am I correct? What's the nuance between these two sentences?

  • @MichaelHarvey but in that case i think the 2nd it should be deeply religious experience?
    – BCLC
    Sep 18, 2022 at 10:33
  • @MichaelHarvey deep is describing religious rather than experience right?
    – BCLC
    Sep 18, 2022 at 11:10

1 Answer 1



Sometimes, a pair of adjectives can be both coordinate and cumulative. Let’s take the adjectives “deep” and “religious” and pair them with the noun “experience.” If we say, “She had a deep, religious experience,” we’re using coordinate adjectives: She had an experience that was both deep and religious (or religious and deep). Now, let’s get rid of the comma: “She had a deep religious experience.” Here, the religious experience was deep. The adjectives are cumulative. Granted, the difference between the two is quite subtle.

I'm not sure, but I think if 'deep' in the 2nd case is describing 'religious' then what should be used is 'deeply'.

However, it seems 'deep' in the 2nd case describing the noun 'religious experience' rather than adjective 'religious'.

If there's really such an important distinction to be made, then what I'd do is as follows:

  1. 1st case: I had an experience that was both deep and religious.

  2. 2nd case: I had a religious experience that was deep.

But I think they'd have to use better examples. I mean would anyone really say like as follows?

I had an experience that was deep. That same experience was religious. However, the experience as a religious experience was not deep.

Sure technically you can have an experience that is deep as an experience but maybe you have a higher standard when it comes to religious experiences specifically. Like say, chess is both a fun game and a board game. But as a board game, chess is not so fun because you have a higher standard for board games. (Eg For board games, you strongly prefer 9LX to chess. But for games in general, you weakly prefer 9LX to chess.)

But in that case the context should be made clear. I don't think you infer the meaning of a sentence largely based on a comma or lack thereof.

  • 1
    Not gonna lie, I'm not sure what a 'deep experience' means.
    – Michael
    Sep 18, 2022 at 12:02
  • @Michael lol yeah but anyhoo yeah it's basically adjective and then a noun. the article is making some distinction like 2 adjectives X and Y that describe a noun Z vs X describing the new noun (Y-describing-Z) insanely based on a comma or lack thereof. ah well i'm not a professional english instructor or anything but as a monolinguist i find that confusing. and hell any language that does something like that is insane.
    – BCLC
    Sep 18, 2022 at 12:09

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