Language has passed me by.

August 12, 2009 Writing Comments (0) 307

Poor typewriter, how callously your contributions are cast aside!

I used to pride myself on being a language nerd, but that changed this week.

First I discovered coordinate adjectives.  My understanding had been that separating adjectives with commas was always incorrect.  Not so!  “Coordinate adjectives,” that is adjectives that modify a noun in the same way, are properly separated by a comma.  The easy way to determine this is to ask oneself whether the same adjectives could be joined by the word “and.”

“The old red car” is correct because “old” modifies “red car.”  Joining the adjectives with the word “and” produces “the old and red car,” which doesn’t work.

“The tall, strong man” is correct because “tall” and “strong” both modify “man.”  “The tall and strong man” works fine, though a comma works better.

Shamed as I was to discover this rule, my week was made worse today when I learned that the internet has apparently assaulted my beloved rules of language.  Specifically, the double-space after a period is no more.  So sayeth the typists and the graphic designers.

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