Using the Comma

Subject: Using the Comma
From: Barry West <Barry_West -dot- S2K -at- S2KEXT -dot- S2K -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 8 May 1995 09:19:21 EDT

Charles asked:

>Which sentence is correct, relative to the comma:

>The Tech Writer was bright, articulate, knowledgeable, and computer literate.
>The Tech Writer was bright, articulate, knowledgeable and computer literate.

Nancy Ford Demeter responded that either is correct.

She is right. Either style is correct. The second style is typically considered
a journalistic style. As Nancy points out, the key is consistency throughout
your document. Select a style and stick with it. However, in her examples
(following), no comma should be placed between 'Jane' and 'to' in either case.
There is no grammatical explanation for doing so. In the second example,
separating Joe and Jane with commas implies a parenthetical construction, which
it is not. Also, adding a comma to the second example does not clearly
distinguish which percentage is going to whom.

>1. Mother bequeathed $1 million to Sarah, Joe, and Jane, to share equally.
>[Sarah, Joe, and Jane each get approx. 33.3%]

>2. Mother bequeathed $1 million to Sarah, Joe and Jane, to share equally.
>[Sarah gets 50%; Joe and Jane each get 25%].

To show that Sarah is getting 50%, the sentence should be re-written. For

Mother bequeathed one million dollars. Half of the money was bequeathed to
Sarah, and half was bequeathed to Joe and Jane.

Barry_West.S2K @ @ INTERNET

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