Grammar Wednesday: COMMA–sequence of events/lists

Welcome! Guess what?! This is the last week on commas! Oh my! Unless someone really doesn’t understand one of the rules or I feel there needs to be a reprise. We’re done! (Yes, why I do believe I overused my exclamation quota for the day.)

Sequences of events and lists are very similar in nature. The first few commas are obvious, while the last one is debatable.

EXAMPLE:

She bent her knees, squatted down, waited for two beats and pushed up to spring into a leap.

Here’s where there issue comes in to play. The first two commas are obvious, they are one event leading into the next event and thus needed, just like in a list. However, the last comma is optional. The best way that I can describe whether or not a person puts a comma in there is regionally. I grew up all over the United States and that afforded me the opportunity to learn this grammatical style (that is sarcasm, I hope you know). In California, I was told no comma. In Montana, I was told comma.

Really, that last comma is up to you and your preference. I will beg of you, however, to please, please, please, PLEASE be consistent in whichever way you decide to do it. Do not change back and forth throughout the document.

Now…practice time.

EXAMPLE
1. I had to go to the store and get a few things: baking soda vinegar food coloring and the likes for that experiment.

RESOLUTION
I had to go to the store and get a few things: baking soda, vinegar, food coloring and the likes for that experiment.

EXAMPLE
1. Grace’s shoes pounded on the ground as she ran she breathed hard her pace increased and sweat trickled down the sides of her temples to her collar.

RESOLUTION
Grace’s shoes pounded on the ground, as she ran she breathed hard, her pace increased and sweat trickled down the sides of her temples to her collar.

Hope this makes sense! Catch you next week where I’ll be discussing how to resolve comma slices. That should be the next five weeks. ttfn.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. M.E. Kinkade
    Mar 14, 2013 @ 16:53:26

    This is my hands-down favorite explanation of the Oxford comma (that’s the name for the serial comma, that “optional one”). While for the most part I agree that consistency is really important, sometimes you just need a comma to clear things up: http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lt2axwlaT71qhzm18o1_500.jpg
    ;)

    Reply

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