More Praise of the Serial Comma!

Yes, I continue to praise the serial comma!

I firmly believe that each item in a list should be separated, and the demarcation between the starting of one item and its conclusion should be clearly shown to a reader. The easiest way to make sure your reader understands the start-stop of an item is to separate all items with commas. In the case of the serial comma, it’s last comma, plus “and,” and then the last item. Easy.

Here’s a great example from a Wall Street Journal article that shows the difference.

No serial comma:

“The greatest influences in my life are my sisters, Oprah Winfrey and Madonna.”

(Gee, your sisters are named “Oprah Winfrey” and “Madonna”? That’s funny. There are two celebrities with those names!)

Serial comma:

“The greatest influences in my life are my sisters, Oprah Winfrey, and Madonna.”

(Oh, your sisters and Oprah Winfrey and Madonna are the greatest influences in your life. I get it!)

If your reader has to stop, go back, reread, you’ve failed as a writer. If your reader hesitates or is confused…you’ve failed as a writer.

Here’s the full article:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303410404577466662919275448