Coordinate Adjectives

Sometimes, one adjective won’t suffice when describing a thing or person. Your friend may not just be smart but is also funny. In such cases, you can use two or more adjectives together to describe the same thing. Two or more descriptive words to describe a noun are called coordinate adjectives.

What is a coordinate adjective?

Coordinate adjectives are two or more adjectives that modify the same noun and are separated by a comma or the conjunction ‘and’. Moreover, coordinate adjectives are known as equal adjectives because they have equal importance in describing the noun.

Here are ten examples of coordinate adjectives used in sentences:

  1. She wore a bright, colorful dress.
  2. She wore a beautiful, fancy dress to the party.
  3. The food was hot, spicy, and delicious.
  4. The room was dark, damp, and cold.
  5. My father bought a new, expensive watch.
  6. Sharmila is a sharp and intelligent debater.
  7. We woke up to a cold and foggy morning.
  8. Golden retrievers are loyal, energetic, and friendly dogs.
  9. The restaurant served delicious and affordable food.
  10. The store had a wide variety of fresh and organic fruits.
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Coordinate Adjectives vs Cumulative Adjectives

Under the umbrella of the types of adjectives, learners usually get confused with the coordinate adjective. The difference between the two is that coordinate adjectives are of equal importance and are separated by a comma or conjunction like ‘and’, whereas cumulative adjectives are not equal in importance and are not separated by a comma or conjunction. To know whether adjectives are of equal rank or importance, they must be reversible in a sentence.

Example of adjective reversibility check:

(1) Kevin bought three large boxes.(Correct)

(2) Kevin bought large three boxes.(Incorrect)

Here, we have two adjectives to consider: “three” and “large.” “Three” is a numerical adjective while “large” is a descriptive adjective. Therefore, those adjectives are cumulative because they are not of equal rank or importance.

Here is a reversibility check for coordinate adjectives:

(1) Everything Everywhere All at Once is a philosophical, legendary movie. (Correct)

(2) Everything Everywhere All at Once is a legendary, philosophical movie. (Also Correct)

The sentences above contain two adjectives: “philosophical” and “legendary.” Both adjectives are reversible since they are of equal rank or importance.

Refer to the table below for the comparison of coordinate and cumulative adjectives.

Point of ComparisonCoordinate AdjectivesCumulative Adjectives
MeaningCoordinate adjectives two or more adjectives of equal rank that modify the same noun and are separated by a comma or the conjunction ‘and’.Cumulative adjectives are combinations of two or more adjectives that modify the noun. These adjectives typically come from different categories (age, size, origin, etc.), are arranged in an order, and are placed before a noun for greater specificity.
PunctuationCoordinate adjectives are separated by a comma. The conjunction “and” can be used in between two adjectives. It is also used when there are three or more adjectives in the series.


Mila wrote a poignant, fascinating novel.

The novel has been praised for its vivid and captivating plot.

It tells the story of a brave, strong, and determined young woman.

She faced many difficult, unexpected challenges.

The characters are complex and multifaceted individuals.
The series of adjectives under cumulative adjectives doesn’t use a comma. However, “and” is placed in between the last two adjectives.


She sold five beautiful new black dresses.

He bought a small silver sports car.

The family moved into a large modern house.

She found an ancient Chinese ceramic vase.

He purchased a cheap big round mirror.
ReversibilityCoordinate adjectives are reversible since they are of equal importance.


Correct: He was an intelligent, creative, and hardworking student.

Also Correct: He was a creative, hardworking, and intelligent student.
Cumulative adjectives are not reversible. Moreover, it follows a certain order: determiner, opinion, size, shape, age, color, origin, material, and purpose.


Correct: Vicky placed the ring in a small round metal box.

Wrong: Vicky placed the ring in a metal round small box.
Coordinate and Cumulative Adjectives Comparison Table
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More Examples of Coordinate Adjectives

  • Rock climbing is an exciting, thrilling adventure.
  • The painting is a beautiful, vibrant, and unique piece of art.
  • The movie is a funny, lighthearted, and heartwarming comedy.
  • She wore a stylish and fashionable dress.
  • Listening to music is a calming, peaceful, and relaxing activity.
  • Benny bought an affordable, and reliable phone.
  • He carried a heavy, bulky suitcase.
  • Sally went on a long, exhausting journey.
  • The dress is a stylish, elegant, and sophisticated piece of clothing.
  • Biking to school is a healthy, enjoyable experience.

Coordinate Adjectives Exercises with Answers

Identify whether the highlighted adjectives in the sentences below are coordinate or cumulative adjectives.

  1. It was a hot, humid afternoon when we strolled at the park and ate ice cream.
  2. The exam was a challenging and rigid test for the students.
  3. We saw an ancient stone Egyptian statue.
  4. On our first date, we went to a French restaurant that served a delicious, savory meal.
  5. She wore a beautiful long white dress to the party.
  6. Quin sells fragrant, aromatic, and relaxing candles.
  7. He wears a bright yellow tarpaulin fabric Scottish raincoat to school when it rains.
  8. She crafted a small wooden box for her jewelry.
  9. We ordered hot, spicy, and umami ramen from the restaurant.
  10. Charro avoids eating unhealthy, greasy fast food.


  1. Coordinate Adjectives
  2. Coordinate Adjectives
  3. Cumulative Adjectives
  4. Coordinate Adjectives
  5. Cumulative Adjectives
  6. Coordinate Adjectives
  7. Cumulative Adjectives
  8. Cumulative Adjectives
  9. Coordinate Adjectives
  10. Coordinate Adjectives
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List of Coordinate Adjectives

A list of coordinate adjectives can be helpful for writers who are looking to add more description to their writing. Some common coordinate adjectives include:

Coordinate Adjectives
hot, windydelicious, savorywarm, inviting
stuffy, mustytough, resilientlight, airy, soft
bright, colorfulexquisite, delicatecruel, conniving
hot, spicy, and umamilively, bedazzlingproud, confident, and strong
cold, freezingcute, adorable, and sweetexpensive, luxurious
intelligent, creative, and hardworkingloud, obnoxiousdark, damp
tall, slender, and gracefulconstant, monotonouszealous, passionate
fragrant, aromaticpowerful, independentbeautiful, elegant, and sophisticated
Coordinate Adjectives Table

Advice for ESL Students & English Language Learners

Adjectives are a great way to add more description and detail to your writing. For ESL students and English language learners, it is critical to understand the difference between coordinate and cumulative adjectives. Coordinate adjectives are reversible since they are of equal importance, while cumulative adjectives follow a certain order.

Familiarizing yourself with this topic can be done through reading and writing exercises. Try to practice using coordinate adjectives in your own writing, and be sure to use commas when necessary. Additionally, pay attention to the order of cumulative adjectives when you are constructing sentences. With enough practice, you will be able to master this topic in no time!

Additionally, it is important for learners to properly understand Adjectives with -ly termination and Cumulative Adjectives.

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Common Mistakes Made by English Learners

Making mistakes is a part of the language-learning process. However, it is important to be aware of the common mistakes so you to avoid them and improve your language and grammar skills. Here are three mistakes you must look out for:

1. Forgetting to use commas when writing coordinate adjectives.

The comma is the defining factor between coordinate and cumulative adjectives. Therefore, it is crucial to remember to use commas when writing coordinate adjectives. Always separate two equal-rank adjectives in a sentence. If you want to drop the comma, replace it with the conjunction “and.” Remember that this is only possible when dealing with two adjectives. For example:

Incorrect: Japan is a beautiful modern country.

Correct: Japan is a beautiful, modern country.

Also Correct: Japan is a beautiful and modern country.

When there are three or more coordinate adjectives in the series, separate the last two adjectives with “and.” For example:

Correct: I’m looking for a heart-warming, astonishing, and compelling movie to watch next week.

Incorrect: I’m looking for a heart-warming, astonishing compelling movie to watch next week.

Also Incorrect: I’m looking for a heart-warming astonishing compelling movie to watch next week.

2. Using two adjectives of different or unequal rank.

Some learners may mistakenly use two adjectives of different or unequal rank. This is incorrect because coordinate adjectives should be of equal importance or rank. Use this example to determine whether two adjectives hold the same weight:

Incorrect: I bought a Taiwanese expensive computer.

Correct: I bought an expensive Taiwanese computer.

There are two adjectives to consider here: “Taiwanese,” an adjective of origin, and “expensive,” an adjective showing an opinion. Note that cumulative adjectives use a certain order. Hence, the example above is a cumulative adjective and not a coordinate adjective. Here are two sentences to make the statement above a coordinate adjective:

  • I bought an expensive, dependable computer.
  • I bought an expensive, popular computer.
  • I bought an expensive, sophisticated computer.

Learning Coordinate Adjectives Strategies and Best Practices

When learning coordinate adjectives, it is essential to understand the concept and rules behind them. Start by reading up on the topic and familiarizing yourself with the definition and examples of coordinate adjectives. Once you have a basic understanding of the concept, practice using coordinate adjectives in sentences. It will help you understand how its usage and structure.

There are real-life practices you can do to apply your knowledge in using coordinate adjectives. First, pay attention to the adjectives used in everyday conversations. Including this grammar component in your communication with others builds your vocabulary. Second, practice using coordinate adjectives by journaling your life experiences or writing a narrative. Apply coordinate adjectives in essays you write for school projects or in creative writing.

Studying with a native English speaker, teacher, or another language learner can also help you to understand coordinate adjectives better. Doing so creates an avenue for you to ask questions and get feedback on your writing. Finally, use online resources such as websites and apps to practice using coordinate adjectives.

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Coordinate Adjectives Frequently Asked Questions

Coordinate adjectives are two or more equal adjectives or adjectives of the same rank that refers to a noun. It is reversible without changing the meaning of the sentence.

Cumulative adjectives, on the other hand, are two or more adjectives that describe a noun in a specific order. Reversing the order of the adjectives will change the meaning of the sentence.

A non-coordinate adjective example is “The old wooden bowl.” In this sentence, the adjectives “old” and “wooden” both describe the noun “bowl,” but they cannot be reversed as “wooden old bowl” does not follow the order of adjectives in a series.

No, coordinate adjectives are not hyphenated. They should be separated by commas and can be reversed without changing the meaning of the sentence.

A comma is used to separate coordinate adjectives in a sentence. For example, “My mother is a caring, loving person.”

When there are more than three or more coordinate adjectives in a sentence, place “and” in between the last two adjectives, for example, “Sofia is a proud, confident, and strong woman.”

Reversibility is a test used to determine if adjectives are equal. When you can reverse two or more adjectives in a sentence and not change their meaning, then those are adjectives with equal rank. Coordinate adjectives have this characteristic.

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