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Being not a native speaker, I find it hard to differentiate coordinate adjectives from cumulative ones, especially when punctuating a sentence. For example, let's look at this sample "effective, private treatment." Do we need a comma before private in this case? In other words, is private here a cumulative adjective?

  • Put an and between them. Then switch their order and see if the meaning changes or if they stop making sense. Effective and private treatment vs Private and effective treatment. It works. They are coordinate adjectives. – mama Feb 11 at 14:16
  • Compare: "I know the public treatment is effective, but can I get effective private treatment?" vs. "Here at the No-tell Spa, we provide effective, private treatment." In the first, "private treatment" is a "noun phrase" (there's probably a better word for that) with the single modifier "effective." In the second, "treatment" is the noun, and privacy is one of two equally stressed requirements. – remarkl Feb 11 at 14:17
  • Using this order can help you tell when reversing two adjectives sounds wrong in English. In your example both belong to the same category of Observation/opinion. – mama Feb 11 at 14:24
  • It's all about the intended meaning. Coordination (with the comma) would mean "treatment that is both effective and private". Stacking (without the comma) would mean "treatment that is effective by the standards applicable to private treatment". See the difference? – BillJ Feb 11 at 15:34
  • Is there any detailed information about stacking? – Vladislav Yurchenko Feb 11 at 18:39

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