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I am having difficulty with this, or maybe my brain has just shutdown. Can you follow a compound adjective with another adjective and then the noun? Or does it always have to be adjective + compound adjective + noun (i.e. the compound adjective directly before the noun). I did search the forum and saw a similar discussion regarding adj + adj + noun, but not compound adj + adj + noun, which is why I am asking the question.

Consider the following sentences:

The band have achieved great success with their self-penned, positive lyrics.

Versus:

The band have achieved great success with their positive, self-penned lyrics.

Are they both correct (including the use of commas)?

I searched the forum and saw a great tip: if the adjectives can be switched around or if you can place an "and" between them (and they still make sense), then you need a comma. However, I don't know if they can be switched around, as I'm uncertain as to whether it makes sense with "self-penned" before "positive lyrics".

The reason I got confused was because I read something in a dictionary that said the word "feel-good" has to be placed directly before a noun e.g. "positive feel-good music" and not "feel-good, positive music". Wondered if this applies to compound adjectives like "self-penned".

Thanks.

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  • Why would you not consider using "and" in place of comma? Does the order make any difference?
    – user140086
    Oct 21, 2015 at 17:34
  • Hi, "and" would work, but still wanted to know if it was correct in either order and with the commas.
    – cors85
    Oct 21, 2015 at 18:56
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    I'm going to disagree with the dictionary. I think "feel-good, positive music" would work if that were your target sentence.
    – trident
    Oct 25, 2015 at 16:38

1 Answer 1

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From what I know, you treat a compound adjective the same as a normal adjective; So, yes, both of your sentences would be correct, commas and all.

My opinion, though, is that the second sentence sounds less awkward than the first.

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  • Ok thanks! You're right it does sound less awkward, so I opted to use it, although I did omit the commas.
    – cors85
    Oct 25, 2015 at 15:52
  • Your comment 'you treat a compound adjective the same as a normal adjective' seems to imply that the question is not too complex. But there is a 'royal order of adjectives'. Or rather, different versions. And even the best seems to have exceptions. Dec 25, 2015 at 11:56

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