advice you can use — short and to the point — every Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday

Wednesday, October 13th, 2021 technology  research  practice

  • Research & Writing

It’s disheartening to see how frequently people mess up with commas.

This kind of thing is all too common: Partner, Alfredo Garcia will be speaking about …

Remove that comma! And don’t be tempted to leave it but add one after Garcia! Both suggest that there is only one partner (which, as you know, is not possible as a matter of law).

Another version of the same error: My colleagues, Suresh and Amy, will … It’s not an error if these are your only colleagues, which is the implication of those offsetting commas. If you have more than just the two colleagues, no commas. 

A worse blunder was made by former prime minster Stephen Harper, who tweeted this on International Women’s Day in 2019: Special mention to @LaureenHarper, my mother and daughter.

Mr Harper, you really ought to have put a comma after mother in order to make it clear that there are three main women in your life, not just one with multiple roles.

Unless, of course, there is some weirdness going on in your family that we didn’t previously know about.

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)