The Elusive Comma (Part 7)

For six sessions we have talked about places where we should use the comma. Now let’s talk about places where the comma may be omitted.

In a series whose elements are all joined by conjunctions, no commas are needed unless the elements are long and pauses are helpful.

Example: Is it by Beethoven or Brahms or Bach? Of course it would not be wrong to say:

Is it by Beethoven, Brahms, or Bach?

When elements in a series involve internal punctuation, or when they are very long and complex, they should be separated by semicolons.

Example: The brown, fuzzy-wuzzy bear; the black and white panda bear; and the snowy-white, fat polar bear were all friends.

When an ampersand is used instead of the word “and,” as in company names, the serial comma is omitted.

Example: Dooey, Soakum & Howe

These examples end our seven sessions on commas.