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Commas before and in a Series

In American English usage, a comma should precede and with three or more items in a series.

Example: I would like to order a salad, a sandwich, and dessert.

Newspapers and magazines do not generally use this rule as print space is too valuable to use on what might be considered extraneous punctuation. However, print publications will use the final comma before and if it is needed to avoid confusion.

Example: Her $10 million estate was split among her husband, daughter, son, and nephew.

Omitting the comma after son would have led the reader to believe that the son and nephew had to split one-third of the estate (each receiving one-sixth) rather than understanding that each relative received one-fourth of the estate.

Due to the E-Newsletter's large readership, please submit your English usage questions through GrammarBook.com's "Grammar Blog."


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Correction to Last Week's Wordplay

Thank you to Cynthia S. for noticing a twelfth word in therein: re.


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Wordplay

The Surprising Origins of Common Words
submitted by Tim Handorf of BestCollegesOnline.net

Bikini: Bikini lovers probably donít know the revealing two-piece swimsuit was named after a nuclear weapons test. It took place at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands in 1946 after the conclusion of World War II. A few days later, fashion designer Jacques Heim introduced the bikini in an effort to take advantage of the publicity surrounding the word.


68 One-Minute English Usage Videos

English In A Snap: 68 One-Minute English Usage Videos FREE 

Learn all about who and whom, affect and effect, subjects and verbs, adjectives and adverbs, commas, semicolons, quotation marks, and much more by just sitting back and enjoying these easy-to-follow lessons. Tell your colleagues (and boss), children, teachers, and friends. Click here to watch.


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