I am a budding ESOL/EFL teacher in S.America that is trying to get to grips with the vagaries of using multiple adjectives in sentences - I am not a native English speaker :-(
I have been swatting up on the subject of multiple adjectives - cumulative and coordinate - but still can't quite get some of the more "tricky" aspects of this subject.
Can someone help with the following query about coordinate adjectives?

I AM aware of the coordinate adjective test - see if the phrase still makes sense when: 1.swapping the order of the adjectives; 2. inserting "and/but" in place of the commas - so there's no need to explain that one. Though how foreign students are supposed to 'know' if it makes sense is beyond me :-(
In the following phrases which would be more "correct" (I know, I should define "correct" first! But...):
1a. Mother has become a confident, independent woman. 1b. Mother has become a confident and independent woman.

2a. Mother has become a strong, confident, independent woman. 2b. Mother has become a strong, confident, and independent woman. 2c. Mother has become a strong, confident and independent woman.

3a. His difficult, stubborn behavior is disrupting class. 3b. His difficult and stubborn behavior is disrupting class.

4a. His capricious, difficult, stubborn behavior is disrupting us. 4b. His capricious, difficult, and stubborn behavior is disrupting us. 4c. His capricious, difficult and stubborn behavior is disrupting us.

5a. Intelligent, ambitious women.
5b. Intelligent and ambitious women.
6a. Intelligent, ambitious, good-looking women.
6b. Intelligent, ambitious, and good-looking women. 6c. Intelligent, ambitious and good-looking women.

(any comments about 6. being an oxymoron will be disconsidered ;-)) ((My apologies, Ms. Richoux - I couldn't resist it - the flesh is weak - as weak as my attempts at humo(u)r in English!))

Is there a general rule here - concerning the use of ',' or ', and' or 'and' or not using 'and' at all.
What I'm after here is some sort of rule relating to the use of "and" and/or a comma between the last two coordinate adjectives - is there one?
I know (I think), for example, that this rule exists with colo(u)rs:

The red AND white flag.
The red, white AND blue flag.
Any help would be welcome - especially from intelligent and good-looking ladies :-)
Thank You

Paulo
A very eager, serious, studious TEFL teacher
A very eager, serious, and studious TEFL teacher
A very eager, serious and studious TEFL teacher
1 2 3
In the following phrases which would be more "correct" (I know, I should define "correct" first! But...): 1a. Mother has become a confident, independent woman. 1b. Mother has become a confident and independent woman.

Both are fine.
2a. Mother has become a strong, confident, independent woman. 2b. Mother has become a strong, confident, and independent woman. 2c. Mother has become a strong, confident and independent woman.

For nonnewspaperese in the U.S.A., 2c is bad.
3a. His difficult, stubborn behavior is disrupting class. 3b. His difficult and stubborn behavior is disrupting class.

Both are awful. Cut the (misplaced nonrestrictive) adjectives, leaving this: "His behavior is disrupting class." A context that would make the adjectives OK (i.e. restrictive) involves a sentence like this: "His difficult, stubborn behavior indoors is disrupting class, but his easygoing, complaisant behavior outside is making play periods a joy." Clunky, but legal.
4a. His capricious, difficult, stubborn behavior is disrupting us. 4b. His capricious, difficult, and stubborn behavior is disrupting us. 4c. His capricious, difficult and stubborn behavior is disrupting us.

All are awful. For 4a and 4b, see above; for nonnewspaperese in the U.S.A., 4c is bad. (And can we really be disrupted?)
5a. Intelligent, ambitious women. 5b. Intelligent and ambitious women.

Both are OK.
6a. Intelligent, ambitious, good-looking women. 6b. Intelligent, ambitious, and good-looking women. 6c. Intelligent, ambitious and good-looking women.

6a and 6b are fine; for nonnewspaperese in the U.S.A., 6c is bad.
I know (I think), for example, that this rule exists with colo(u)rs: The red AND white flag. The red, white AND blue flag.

For nonnewspaperese in the U.S.A., the second version is bad.
A very eager, serious, studious TEFL teacher A very eager, serious, and studious TEFL teacher A very eager, serious and studious TEFL teacher

(1) Cut the vitiating "very" and change "A" to "An." (2) For nonnewspaperese in the U.S.A., the third one is bad.
In the following phrases which would be more "correct" (I ... woman. 1b. Mother has become a confident and independent woman.

Both are fine.

So with 2 adjs it can be "adjA, adjB noun" or "adjA and adjB noun"
2a. Mother has become a strong, confident, independent woman. 2b. ... 2c. Mother has become a strong, confident and independent woman.

For nonnewspaperese in the U.S.A., 2c is bad.

With 3 or more adjs: "adjA, adjB, adjC noun" or "adjA, adjB, and adjC noun"
The comma appears between the last two adjs even if I use the "and"? Would the same be true of post-modifiers? (Here I have only considered pre-modifiers).

I obviously still have a lot to learn about adjective use :-(

Same rule as 2.
I know (I think), for example, that this rule exists with colo(u)rs: The red AND white flag. The red, white AND blue flag.

For nonnewspaperese in the U.S.A., the second version is bad.

So how do I say it when the flag has 3 colo(u)rs?
A very eager, serious, studious TEFL teacher A very eager, serious, and studious TEFL teacher A very eager, serious and studious TEFL teacher

(1) Cut the vitiating "very" and change "A" to "An." (2) For nonnewspaperese in the U.S.A., the third one is bad.I can't be "very eager"? :-(

Thank you very much for your reply - it has helped a lot - I think. (Confusion reigns)

Paulo
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I obviously still have a lot to learn about adjective use

(Smiley snipped to protect the innocent.)
No, you're doing fine. Native speakers do occasionally use nonrestrictive adjectives in restrictive position. Shakespeare did! Still, it's unlikely that anybody but a mindless bureaucrat would commit "His capricious, difficult, stubborn behavior" on a regular basis.
So how do I say it when the flag has 3 colo(u)rs?

In U.S. English generally and pre-WWI British literature, "red, white, and blue"; in current U.S. newspapers and British English (but not in pre-WWI British literature and not in certain educated British styles), "red, white and blue." The problem isn't with the adjectives: it's with the serial comma (q.v. in the FAQ and via Google).
I obviously still have a lot to learn about adjective use

(Smiley snipped to protect the innocent.) No, you're doing fine.

Thank you for the undeserved encouragement.
So how do I say it when the flag has 3 colo(u)rs?

In U.S. English generally and pre-WWI British literature, "red, white, and blue"; in current U.S. newspapers and British English (but ... and blue." The problem isn't with the adjectives: it's with the serial comma (q.v. in the FAQ and via Google).

Aha! The "Oxford" comma - I had forgotten about that! Thank you.

Also, would it be opening a bag of worms to ask about colo(u)r order?

Why "black and white" and not "white and black"?
Why normally "yellow and black" and not "black and yellow"? Why "red, white, and blue" and not "R, B, and W" or "W, R, and B" or...
etc

Paulo
Also, would it be opening a bag of worms to ask about colo(u)r order? Why "black and white" and not "white and black"? Why normally "yellow and black" and not "black and yellow"?

It isn't really. Google shows that it's a 3:2 ratio which means they're nearly interchangeable.
Why "red, white, and blue" and not "R, B, and W" or "W, R, and B" or... etc

Paulo, what sort of answer would make you happy? Are you hoping there is some rule we all know that is easily applied and understood? "Arrange the colors in decreasing order of wavelength" or something?

"Black and white" and "red, white, and blue" are two traditional phrases. Beyond that, there is no rule.
Now, if you were to ask the difference between "greenish blue" and "blue-ish green," then there would be an answer.

Best Donna Richoux
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Why normally "yellow and black" and not "black and yellow"?

It isn't really. Google shows that it's a 3:2 ratio which means they're nearly interchangeable.

Yes, I HAD done that search beforehand:
Y&B 88200 ; B&Y 62100
But I have found in talking to people that thr Y&B is more common - is it that when people speak they don't have time to think? I tested this by giving a piece of 50-50 Y&B paper to people and asking them to tell me what colo(u)rs they could see: 89% Y&B; 11% B&Y
Why "red, white, and blue" and not "R, B, and W" or "W, R, and B" or... etc

Paulo, what sort of answer would make you happy? Are you hoping there is some rule we all know that is easily applied and understood? "Arrange the colors in decreasing order of wavelength" or something?

An easy-to understand, and 100%-applicable one, of course! ;-) Yes - that is my hope - please tell me the rule that you are all hiding from me!
Something like that - although it could be "increasing order of frequency" instead ;-)
"Black and white" and "red, white, and blue" are two traditional phrases. Beyond that, there is no rule.

Blast and damn it!
Now, if you were to ask the difference between "greenish blue" and "blue-ish green," then there would be an answer.

Even little me can understand that - adj modifying adj - cumulative - the dark red dress/ red dark dress syndrome.
I HAVE come across discussions about low/mid/hi vowels and vowels nearer the front of the word coming first. None of which I understood:

"if all else is equal, high front vowel before mid-front before low before mid-back before high back: bigger and better, etc. This last one may be contributing to the preferential order of 'black and white', since the vowel of 'black' is more front than the nucleus of the vowel in 'white'. "
As clear as mud to me :-(
I just KNEW that this was a b-of-worms :-(
Sorry I asked - please ignore me and I will go away

Thank you anyway for your answer, kind lady

Paulo
I am a budding ESOL/EFL teacher in S.America that is trying to get to grips with the vagaries of using ... and ambitious women. 6a. Intelligent, ambitious, good-looking women. 6b. Intelligent, ambitious, and good-looking women. 6c. Intelligent, ambitious and good-looking women.

None of the above is/are wrong. The use of "and" can suggest discrete grouping though, eg. 3a: If his behaviour is difficult it's also stubborn; 3b: His behaviour isn't necessarily simultaneously difficult and stubborn. (3b can be also interpreted in the same way as 3a, of course, but it might not be.) This difference is clearest in 5a/b.
Adrian
I'm not sure that I'd go so far as to say "there is no rule". If one of two colors is white, I seem to want to put white second. If one of three colors is white, I seem to want to put white in the middle. I don't know if this has anything to do with the heraldic notion that "metals" (yellow and white) are not colors, but must be placed between colors. There are probably other regularities that we could discover.

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