Monday, May 31, 2004


Language Hat again makes the case for the serial comma.

I like the serial comma, and I was long sad that AP discouraged its use. (Anyone confused by this past tense discouraged?) I'm just now getting over it. Really.

But I think we delete the last comma in a series more than even AP calls for. See this entry.


At 9:31 PM, June 02, 2004, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At the Philly Inquirer, our style is to use the serial comma before the conjunction if any element contains three words or more. Thus: "The flag is red, white and blue," but "She took courses in English, art history, and African American studies." (Our style is also not to hyphenate African American in any sense.) It seems to make sense, but it causes no end of confusion.

At 12:00 AM, June 03, 2004, Blogger Nicole said...

That sounds like a fantastic guideline. I tend toward a four-word limit, but that was an arbitrary compromise I made up to give myself something to work with.

I do wonder where the confusion stems from ... but, then again, I also marvel at the confusion surrounding the hyphenation of compound modifiers. And we all know no one seems to think that's so cut and dry.

I'm glad you shared Philly's rule, though. I was beginning to feel alone in the cosmos on this.


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