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Thursday, January 6th, 2022 technology  research  practice

A Research Tip

  • Research & Writing

Commas can be confusing, and one of the most common misuses is this:

Join partner, Eleni Papadopoulos for this informative seminar on …

Sometimes another comma will be placed after the person’s name as well.

Both are wrong where there are more partners than one.

Offsetting someone’s name with two commas suggests she is the only partner (which is impossible at law), and using only one comma just doesn’t make sense.

To recapitulate, My friend Ed… means I have a friend called Ed, but also some other friends. My friend, Ed, … means I’m a bit of a loser and have only one friend. He’s called Ed.

Here are some even more puzzling commas that have crossed the radar recently:

  • Make culture, part of your Performance Management.
  • It is my hope, with the current modernization efforts that are being implemented, this tradition of exemplary customer service, will blossom and flourish for generations to come!
  • The Canadian Bar Association, recommended that …
  • Moses will be supporting, Jennifer and Eli in the corporate group.

The first is a corporate slogan seen on LinkedIn. The comma is presumably intended to create an emphatic pause, but it’s wholly unnecessary (as are the caps on performance management).

The second is a rather florid customer testimonial in an ad for public transport in Toronto. The writer probably got a bit confused by a relatively complicated sentence, which he thought needed more breaks than it actually does. The third comma is superfluous.

The last two examples are more puzzling, but are perhaps also meant to be in the ‘emphatic pause’ category.

The errant commas in examples 3 and 4 could just be typos, but the fact that they emanate from the same lawyer writer suggests that some remedial comma training would be in order.

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)

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