to reach a mutually-agreed long-term comprehensive solution that would ensure IranĖˆs nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful.

As I see, in the noun phrase a mutually-agreed long-term comprehensive solution, all the three adjectives describing the head noun are coordinate. Then, shouldn't there be commas between them making it look like a mutually-agreed, long-term,/and comprehensive solution? Is putting a comma between coordinate adjectives a must? If so, what has happened here?

  • 4
    There is no must, both are valid. I use commas to indicate to the reader that I want them to pause a little before continuing to read the rest of the sentence. Sometimes this can aid in the delivery/transmission of the message and its subsequent reception/decoding by the reader/listener. Sometimes you'll want to stress the individual descriptors, whereas sometimes you'll want to convey a complex amalgamation of multiple facets. – Sam Feb 6 '14 at 0:25
  • @Sam In international Academic English tests such as IELTS, am I permitted to not put commas between coordinate adjectives? Or it better to put those? – Juya Feb 6 '14 at 11:43
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    I would advise you to leave them in there for the test. – Sam Feb 7 '14 at 0:49
  • @MrHenI do not think so. – Juya Mar 12 '14 at 9:00
  • Juya: we (try to) deal with real English on ELU; teaching, publishing and examination bodies often have their own parochial 'rules' that they insist must be observed (and, sadly, encourage people to believe are the [only] right way; probably some of them even think they are). – Edwin Ashworth Jun 8 '15 at 8:39

Here's how I would word the sentence fragment (which I've turned into a full-blown sentence:

To reach a mutually agreed upon, long-term, comprehensive solution which would ensure Iran's nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful, is a worthy goal for the latest round of talks initiated by Slovenia.

The way in which I've punctuated the sentence illustrates how the rules apply in a situation such as this.

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  • I beg your pardon but what is "initiated by Slovenia"?! – Juya Feb 8 '14 at 12:55
  • and should this that be deleted "The way in which I've punctuated the sentence illustrates how the rules that apply in a situation such as this."? – Juya Feb 8 '14 at 12:56
  • and why have you started your last paragraph with an O "o reach"? and why have you repeated the noun phrase again at last? I do not get. – Juya Feb 8 '14 at 12:58
  • @Juya: Sorry for the confusion. I was operating on 2 hours of sleep this morning! I've just now edited my post. It'll make more sense now, I hope. Time to take a nap! The "Slovenia" in my sentence has absolutely no significance; it's the first country that popped into my head. Frankly, I don't even know where it is, though I plan to find out. Don – rhetorician Feb 8 '14 at 17:02
  • 'The rules' as laid down by which particular style guide/s? In OP's example, the hyphens indicating the compounding remove the need for 'commas to clarify'; surely that leaves the author with the choice of including (or omitting) 'commas to dictate prosody'. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 8 '15 at 8:32

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