comma after 'Jr.' [why?, abbreviation]: Martin Luther King, Jr., was

Discussion in 'English Only' started by u-1, Jun 17, 2011.

  1. u-1 Senior Member

    Dear teachers,

    Good morning,

    I have a question.

    I want to know why comma is necessary after Jr. in the sentence below:

    "Martin Luther King, Jr., was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. "

    Is it ok to omit the comma from the sentence?

    Thank you in advance.
  2. Ramza Junior Member

    English - USA
    Yes. You may omit that comma.
  3. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    It's a bit like a non-restrictive clause.
    I think you already know, but you may not, what a non-restrictive clause is (example in bold!). It allows the sentence to read well if what is between the commas is removed. In any case, it's the standard way of writing such names. I would say it is not OK to omit just one comma - the one you selected. Some style guides don't like commas and periods after abbreviations and might prefer "Martin Luther King Jr was ... "
  4. Fabulist Banned

    Annandale, Virginia, USA
    American English
    I think in the U.S. we would always put a period after the abbreviation for "Junior" or "Senior," whether there is any other punctuation afterwards or not. I suppose that in theory you could have either two commas or none, but it seems to be more or less standard in the U.S. (or at least it used to be) to put a comma between surname and a suffix like "Jr." or "Sr." (but not a roman numeral); if you do that, then it looks like you need another one after it (unless it's at the end of a sentence, in which case the period does doubled duty in AE in indicating both an abbreviation and the end of a sentence).
  5. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    Issues of style, such as this, can vary, depending upon the guide you choose or have imposed upon you by an employer or teacher.

    The style book used by American newspapers specifically prohibits a comma between the name and the "Jr" suffix.

    This is logical since the "Jr." is considered part of a person's full name.

    Academic titles, on the other hand, are set off by commas, since they are not part of a person's name.
  6. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    Whatever the practice regarding the comma before the "Jr.", as described by Mr. Graham, there should not be a comma after the "Jr."
  7. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    These "rules" have changed over the years and different style guides have changed at different times. To quote this source covering some of the changes,


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