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Proper list of adjectives questions

Crumbly Writer

Since I can't remember the conditions for the proper list of adjectives (where you DON'T need a comma), how do you punctuate "though solid hard work"? Does it need a comma or not? It seems to be like both are physical condition modifiers, but they are repeated. Does that mean you don't use a comma, since they're supposed in the correct order, or you use one because you're duplicating the same modifier twice?

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Geek of Ages
Updated:

It depends on what you want to mean

"Solid hard work" = hard work that is solid

"Solid, hard work" = work that is both hard and solid

"Solid-hard work" = work that is hard, and that hard is solid (absurd in this case, but sensible when generalizing to things like "stained-glass window")

Crumbly Writer

Here's the sentence:

Since my grades weren't good and I couldn't afford supplies, much less the advanced degrees, I established myself through solid, hard work.

As best as I can figure, "solid" and "hard" are synonyms, both describing how difficult to manage the work was. It's a common expression (at least in America). Being a native English speaker, and thus never studied the correct order of adjectives, I'm unsure whether it requires a comma or not.

Geek of Ages

It sounds better to my ear sans comma, so I would lean that way.

"Hard work" is kind of like a compound word in its own right these days, and if you were to replace it with something like "tenacity", it would clearly be the adjective "solid" modifying "hard work". Likewise if you said "lots of" instead of "solid". (I'm not actually advocating either of those, merely using them for illustrations of the underlying syntax)

Replies:   richardshagrin
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

thus never studied the correct order of adjectives, I'm unsure whether it requires a comma or not.

The explanation Geek of Ages gave was very good.
You need commas when the "order of adjectives" does not apply, i.e. the adjectives are in the same class.
I think they definitely are for 'solid, hard work'.
They would not be for 'long hard hours'.

REP

@Crumbly Writer

, I'm unsure whether it requires a comma or not.

If it makes sense with 'and' inserted a comma should be inserted.

solid and hard can mean different things. Solid work could mean lasting as is able to withstand challenges. Hard work could me difficult to do. So while they can be used a synonyms, they also have other meanings that are different.

If 'and' doesn't make sense, then check the following:
http://www.grammar.cl/english/adjectives-word-order.htm

Replies:   Joe Long
richardshagrin

@Geek of Ages

syntax

Boy, they will tax anything these days.

Joe Long

@REP

solid and hard can mean different things.


Solid work would be consistently of good quality or without error.

Hard work could be difficult, but in this example would be the worker consistently putting a high level of commitment and effort (a variation of 'working hard')

So "I established myself through solid, hard work" would mean that the worker always had his nose to the grindstone and produced good results.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ernest Bywater

Usually where people say or write about solid hard work the mean the word solid as a qualifier for the word hard - in which case it should be a compound noun of solid hard-work. But feel free to ignore me I studied UK English in the Australian system, not American Engrish (no typo - if you get it, laugh at the joke).

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

where you DON'T need a comma


The trick I remember is — if you can switch the order of the adjectives then you have the comma. If you can't (because it won't make sense) then you don't have the comma.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Since my grades weren't good and I couldn't afford supplies, much less the advanced degrees, I established myself through solid, hard work.


I would not have the comma.

But why do you need "solid"?

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater

in which case it should be a compound noun of solid hard-work.

You over-thought this one. :-)
Compound nouns are almost never hyphenated. It is compound adjectives which often are.

This thread could have stopped after the first reply when Geek of Ages said:
"Solid hard work" = hard work that is solid
"Solid, hard work" = work that is both hard and solid
The author could choose either in this case, depending upon which of those definitions best suits their meaning.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
richardshagrin

Some dildos are solid and hard. For porn stars who use them it is solid hard work.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Joe Long

So "I established myself through solid, hard work" would mean that the worker always had his nose to the grindstone and produced good results.

I vote for this interpretation, as that's what he was trying to imply. However, that only raises the question, are they two version of the physical description of the work, or are they something else.

Right now, I'm assuming they need the comma. It seems logical, since they are near synonyms, and it won't cost me much to add an extra comma, even if it's not strictly necessary.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

Usually where people say or write about solid hard work the mean the word solid as a qualifier for the word hard - in which case it should be a compound noun of solid hard-work.

Sigh! Okay. Only two seconds after coming to a decision, you've already talked me out of it. No comma it is, since it's a compound two-word adjective modifying the noun.

Any more opinions to confuse me ever more?

Replies:   Joe Long  Ernest Bywater
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

The trick I remember is — if you can switch the order of the adjectives then you have the comma. If you can't (because it won't make sense) then you don't have the comma.

Nope. I tried it. You can't write it as "hard solid work". Not only is the common expression "solid hard", but the "hard" seems to modify the "solid", though I'm not sure on that count.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

I would not have the comma.

But why do you need "solid"?

For the reasons that Ernest detailed. It wasn't just that the work was hard, which wasn't his claim. Instead he was describing his approach to life, that he always focuses on working hard to produce a consistent quality of work (in this case, the "hard" would be working overtime to get everything just right, regardless of how "hard" the physical effort was).

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

This thread could have stopped after the first reply when Geek of Ages said:
"Solid hard work" = hard work that is solid
"Solid, hard work" = work that is both hard and solid
The author could choose either in this case, depending upon which of those definitions best suits their meaning.

Nah, I agree with Ernest on this one. The expression, especially in this case, describes something other than how physically demanding the work was.

Replies:   Joe Long
Joe Long

@Crumbly Writer

Only two seconds after coming to a decision, you've already talked me out of it.


Dammit, there are no take backs!

Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

Some dildos are solid and hard. For porn stars who use them it is solid hard work.

Then again, some are 'soft but firm', which work especially well with the double-ended dildoes which need to bend to be used, especially as everyone twists and humps. 'D

Joe Long

@Crumbly Writer

The expression, especially in this case, describes something other than how physically demanding the work was.


Yes.

Hard work is difficult or physically demanding.

Working hard is being diligent - such as when someone asks the office, "Working hard or hardly working?"

Joe Long
Updated:

Speaking of working hard, a new client reviewed the data submission and noticed a few things not as described, and then mentioned he's waiting to submit the invoice until all is as he expected.

I have a new found sense of urgency.

*The data I'm offering is both current and previous. The original clients were only interested in the new data going forward and not the old. This new client expects all the data described in the catalog, but I hadn't prepared it yet. Working hard.

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

Any more opinions to confuse me ever more?


to get the most opinions ask 5 lawyers so you get seven to eight official opinions.

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

I'm assuming they need the comma. It seems logical, since they are near synonyms

I would certainly suggest a comma if I saw that editing - for that reason.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Nope. I tried it. You can't write it as "hard solid work".


So it failed the test and therefore there is no comma.

Replies:   Joe Long  Ross at Play
Joe Long

@Switch Blayde

Nope. I tried it. You can't write it as "hard solid work".


I saw an article recently that described how we inherently know the proper order of adjectives in English.

This is something I Googled up just now which attempts to tackle the subject.
https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/1155/what-is-the-rule-for-adjective-order

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

So it failed the test and therefore there is no comma.

SB, I don't expect you to believe, and I don't care. I'm not going to argue about it ...

Actually, that is NOT a "good test".
It works for proving a comma is required; it does not always work to show one is not required. It is prone to returning false negatives.
There are two reasons that something will sound off if the order of two adjectives is reversed:
1. They are in different categories for the natural order of adjectives
2. The pairing is a familiar one and usually said in the same order.
That test returns true negatives for type 1, but false negatives for type 2.
I suggest the reason 'hard solid work' fails your test is that you have heard 'solid hard ...' so often it sounds natural, rather than because that order is intrinsically natural.
CW says they are almost synonyms: they are in the same category.

A better test is whether it sounds natural to put 'and' between the two adjectives, and if so then use a comma.

But, it's not a "bad test" either. While it sometimes gives the incorrect answer, those are unlikely to be jarring to readers of fiction - because the order will sound somewhat familiar to them.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Joe Long

I saw an article recently that described how we inherently know the proper order of adjectives in English.

We have discussed that here several times.

I would caution you that you cannot use the list of categories in that article to figure out the correct order for a particular set of adjectives. Dragons be there! There have been several attempts to define the list, and there are differences between them. You'll drive yourself nuts if you try to match a set of adjectives with any list of categories someone else has come up with.

But you do need to know that such lists of categories exist. Once you know that - when you shuffle some adjectives and find an order that sounds more natural than any other - that's when you may confidently list them ahead of a noun with no commas separating them.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Ross at Play

But you do need to know that such lists of categories exist. Once you know that - when you shuffle some adjectives and find an order that sounds more natural than any other - that's when you may confidently list them ahead of a noun with no commas separating them.

I think that's also one of the reasons God created editors.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@robberhands

I think that's also one of the reasons God created editors.

Don't blame Him for my existence.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

I suggest the reason 'hard solid work' fails your test is that you have heard 'solid hard ...' so often it sounds natural, rather than because that order is intrinsically natural.
CW says they are almost synonyms: they are in the same category.

However, Crumbly also said that, given the situation, "hard solid" are NOT synonyms and that the "solid hard" test fails not just because it's a commonly used phrase, but that it doesn't fit the story situation.

Switch's test may produce an occasional false negative, but I don't believe it did in this case, or that it's likely to in most cases.

In my case, "sold and hard" doesn't work, because "solid" and "hard" are describing things other than physical properties.

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

Don't blame Him for my existence.

Don't worry, we won't. Most of us assume that Satan is responsible for your current position. 'D (Just teasing)

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

Most of us assume that Satan is responsible for your current position.

If I believed in God, I blame Satan too.

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