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Journal Chacham's Journal: Words, commas, and two or three. 2

There seems to be two acceptable ways of delimiting three or more items in English. The difference being in the amount of commas.

One, two, and three.


One, two and three.

In the past, I noticed most people using the the first type, and some "professional" articles using the second type. However, more recently, I have seen the second type much more often.

This could either be due to what I have been reading, or a change in peoples' preference. Has anyone else noticed this phenomenon?

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Words, commas, and two or three.

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  • When I was a lad and in school I was taught the one, two, and three method. This beleif was only supported when I learned programing and argument(passing).

    Then I got to college and I had a really crappy "teacher" who insisted we use the one, two and three method. And just the other night on late night PBS there was a show (from the 80s judging by the dress and computer ware) talking about succeeding in business and they showed how the one, two, and three method is worth while.

    Consider stating that these people will be coming to a meeting: research and development, sales, and marketing. Doesn't that have less ambiguity than say: research and development, sales and marking?

    I once had a crack head of a prof latter in college suggest you use the one, two and three method unless there is chance of ambiguity, then and only then use the added comma. However, I argue that this practice can only serve as adding to confusion since people tend to get used to one-another's styles of writing.

    I'm a logic person, things need to make sense. To me, having "good" sentance structure and an attempt at spelling is worth my time and thought, and listing things using something clearly stated as effective at conveying logical ordering or grouping is just natural to me.
    • Doesn't that have less ambiguity than say: research and development, sales and marking?

      Good example. There is a similar problem when only two items are listed. Imagine if sales and marketing actually were one department. Then, the sentence should read, research and development and sales and marketing. In such a case, I'd probably throw in a comma between "development" and "and". Though I am not sure, I believe that to be incorrect. If only English had an escape character for conjunctions.

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