Coordinate and Cumulative Adjectives – Examples & Worksheet

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Danielle McLeod

Danielle McLeod is a highly qualified secondary English Language Arts Instructor who brings a diverse educational background to her classroom. With degrees in science, English, and literacy, she has worked to create cross-curricular materials to bridge learning gaps and help students focus on effective writing and speech techniques. Currently working as a dual credit technical writing instructor at a Career and Technical Education Center, her curriculum development surrounds student focus on effective communication for future career choices.

To make your sentences interesting and concise, you should always include adjectives to help clarify your nouns and pronouns. There are two types of adjectives: coordinate and cumulative.

It’s important to know the difference between these types of adjectives, so you know how to punctuate and provide clarity to your sentences properly. Let’s review the rules of adjectives and practice with a worksheet.

Coordinate and Cumulative Adjectives Examples Worksheet 2

What Is an Adjective?

Adjectives modify or describe a noun or pronoun. They provide detail and clarity to your sentences and help to quantify or provide quality to someone or something.

For example:

  • The brown dog chased the bouncing red ball.

The adjectives in this sentence are brown, bouncing, and red.

What Is a Coordinate Adjective?

Coordinate adjectives are two or more adjectives listed before a noun that may be placed in any order without changing the meaning of the sentence.

For example:

  • I like the clean, breezy taste of that toothpaste.
  • I like the breezy, clean taste of that toothpaste.

Changing the order of the adjectives clean and breezy does not change the meaning of the sentence, so these are coordinate adjectives. Note that coordinate adjectives require commas to be placed between them.

It is also possible to put the word “and” between coordinate adjectives and still have a grammatically correct sentence.

  • The chilly, blustery day made me yearn for hot cocoa.
  • The chilly and blustery day made me yearn for hot cocoa.

What Is a Cumulative Adjective?

Cumulative adjectives modify a noun by building meaning. Cumulative adjectives are two or more adjectives listed before a noun that must be placed in a specific order to convey the meaning of the sentence.

  • Correct: The waiter brought a tall baby chair.
  • Incorrect: The waiter brought a baby tall chair.

In the example above, the first sentence contains cumulative adjectives. The word baby must be next to the noun it modifies, chair, to make sense. If the cumulative adjectives are reversed, the entire meaning of the sentence changes. Note that when using cumulative adjectives, no comma is used.

Let’s look at another example:

  • Correct: The beautiful Dutch doors opened into the backyard.
  • Incorrect: The Dutch beautiful doors opened into the backyard.

In the above sentence, a Dutch door is a particular type of door, and the adjective Dutch must appear immediately before the word door to convey the sentence’s intended meaning.

Choosing the order of cumulative adjectives can be confusing, but if you can remember the rules pertaining to the order of cumulation, you should always get it correct.

Number or Quantity

such as few, an or three

Opinion or Quality

such as beautiful or priceless

Size

such as gargantuan or petite

Age

such as young or aged

Shape

such as square or oblong

Color

such as red, pink, or white

Origin

such as Greek or Dutch

Material

such as wooden or plastic

Qualifier

The qualifier is an adjective that denotes the item’s type or purpose. Some examples are evening bag and cooking pot.

Let’s Review

Coordinate adjectives are two or more adjectives listed before a noun that may be placed in any order without changing the meaning of the sentence. They must be separated by a comma or the word and.

Cumulative adjectives modify a noun by building meaning. Cumulative adjectives are two or more adjectives listed before a noun that must be placed in a specific order to convey the meaning of the sentence.

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