Apr. 14th, 2008

maudite_a_deux: (stunned monkey)
The serial comma is so called because it involves a series or list. For example, "Eggs, bacon, toast and jam." You see how you leave that last comma out? That's the serial comma at work. (Some people believe you shouldn't leave that comma out. That's okay too. Opinions vary. Just pick one and be consistent.)

Serial commas do not mean that you have to leave off the last comma in any sentence that has more than one. For example, "The writer, who really ought to have known better left out the second comma in this sentence because she doesn't understand serial commas." For extra credit, tell me where the second comma belonged, and where a third might arguably, though not necessarily, have been inserted.

You think I'm not serious? I (and I will note here that I got kicked out of high school, albeit for errors other than grammatical) once vetoed the hiring of a former English teacher as a tech writer because she didn't understand serial commas. And boy, was she pissed! She kept calling me until I finally gave in and told her, "There was some misuse of punctuation on your resume."

She not only refused to believe me, she didn't even call me on the passive voice, which is the kiss of death in technical writing. PWNED!

I am not, by any means, a paragon of grammatical perfection. I loves me some split infinitives, I sometimes end sentences with prepositions, and I'm kind of vague when it comes to defining the more esoteric parts of speech. This is all the more reason to take my words to heart. If I know better, anyone ought to. Last grade completed: 10th. SRSLY. Set your bar higher than me.

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November 2009

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