Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the EnglishProofreading Service - Pain in the English

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24-Hour Proofreading Service—We proofread your Google Docs or Microsoft Word files. We hate grammatical errors with passion. Learn More




Member Since

May 24, 2004

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Where are the commas?

  • May 24, 2004, 5:35pm

As a Brit, I find the use of the serial comma in the U.S. surprising. We were taught in school to write "A, B and C".

Some have argued that using the serial comma removes a source of ambiguity, as in "This book is dedicated to my parents, Ayn Rand and God". Adding a comma here would remove the ambiguity. However it should be noted that using the serial comma can also create a source of ambiguity, for example "We considered Miss Roberts for the roles of Marjorie,
David's mother, and Louise". This sentence would no longer be ambiguous, if the final comma were removed.

The guideline to always use the serial comma is is prefered in the U.S., except in some newspapers (e.g. New York Times)

In the U.K. and Commonwealth countries the normal guideline is to omit the serial comma. The exception here is Oxford University Press, where the serial comma is used.