Thursday, July 30, 2009

I Love the Serial Comma

I had a piece published recently in a very nice venue, but the editor pitched my serial commas overboard.

I suppose it's standard practice now -- I'm too cheap to buy a Chicago Manual of Style -- because this morning as I read the New York Times another example of the missing serial comma jumped out at me.

“Michelle was a very hard-working, intelligent and dedicated assistant,” he said. “I think she will be a very successful trainer.”

There's simply no need for this. Commas are as plentiful. And I doubt either production of the ink to print them or the voltage/amperage to display them add to global warming in a significant way.

4 comments:

Middle-aged Diva said...

No comma before the "and" in a series is an AP Stylebook thing. Journalistic tradition in most newspapers for years.

One Sick Mother said...

I learned in third grade that to put a comma before an "and" in a list would get you flamed by Sister Theresa more surely than if you insulted the Pope.

Carter said...

Nobody but newspapers omits the Oxford comma.

The most famous example of the need for the serial comma comes in this dedication: "To my parents, Ayn Rand and God."

CMS 15, article 6.22, "strongly recommends this widely practiced usage." Fowler (1954). article "and.3," doesn't even recommend--he simply says do it.

And so do I.

deanna said...

You going to mention which nice venue? Was it from New York, California or someplace else? ;o)