Tag Archives: serial comma

Where Does the Comma Go?


Do commas confuse you?

The final stage of the writing and editing process is proofreading: correcting any errors in spelling, punctuation, word usage, and format. Roughly 75% of what I do while proofreading clients’ documents is correct commas.

When I teach university writing courses, I ask the students, “What’s the number one thing that confuses you about punctuation and grammar?” In every class, someone says “Commas,” and about half of the students nod in agreement.

Commas confuse most people. Unlike other types of punctuation, they are used in so many ways. However, if you want to write clearly and professionally, you need to use commas correctly. Continue reading

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Use the Serial Comma


Commas in Series
  1. The toy was red [comma] round [comma] and heavy.
  2. I purchased pickles at the store [comma] gas at the convenience store [comma] and flowers at the florist for my beautiful wife.

RULE A:
Separate every item in a series with a comma.

Series: A series is a string of three or more matching items in a sentence. For example, the series in sample 1 contains three items: red, round, and heavy. The series in sample 2 also contains three items.

Take a look at sample 1 and see how the commas fit the rule. The first item is red, and it is separated from round by a comma. The second item is round, and it is separated from red and heavy by commas. Every item in the series is separated from the other items by commas.

The Zen Comma Master

Koan 1: Bumbo approached the teacher and said, “Teacher, I was taught not to use the comma before the word and. Is that true?” The teacher replied, “Newspapers.”

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