comma before 'and' in list [serial, Oxford, Harvard] : I like apples, pears<,> and oranges.

Alxmrphi

Senior Member
UK English
If someone is giving a list of something like.......

I like apples, and oranges, and pears.

The first "and" is incorrect, right?
I always thought that because of the comma, there is no and, only with the last noun, so it should be

I like apples, oranges, and pears.

This is correct, isn't it, it is quite redundant to keep repeating and, and is incorrect 'proper' English, isn't it?
 
  • cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Hi Alex,
    Before I go hunting for grammar book 'rules' about lists, it's worth mentioning that whatever 'rules' may or may not say on the topic of potentially redundants "ands", there will be times when a writer's stylistic intentions, including a need for emphasis, dictate the use of more than one "and" in a list.


    Edit:
    I've now checked with H.W. Fowler, who says that the combination of 'and' with a comma may be logically unnecessary, but
    useful. He mentions no rule.

    Type (b) can be very shortly disposed of. It differs in that the conjunction (and, or, nor, &c.) is expressed every time, instead of being represented except in the last place by a comma. It is logically quite unnecessary, but rhetorically quite allowable, to use commas as well as conjunctions. ... In the type sentence, which contains two enumerations, it would be legitimate to use commas as well as ands with one set and not with the other, if it were desired either to avoid monotony or to give one list special emphasis.
    This is the sample sentence he calls (b):

    b. Let us freely drink in the soul of love and beauty and wisdom, from all nature and art and history.
     

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I accept that, I just mean on the value to say it is redundant, is it something like, well I dunno, would it be wrong enough to suggest not to use it and be considered a bad judgement to correct someone who is learning another language, or say it on here etc?
     

    Mark1978

    Senior Member
    English
    Yes, in most circumstances when making a list you will use commas except before the last item when you will use and.
     

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Yes, cuchu I understand your example, but this is not what I am talking about, not making a list with and, where as you said it can be useful, I mean making a list with "and" AND "commas".

    I agree with Mark though, thanks for confirming!
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Stylistic generalities are useful for learners, and it certainly wouldn't hurt to state that we usually do as Mark1978
    suggests. That is a far cry from saying that use of more than a single comma+and in enumeration is wrong, incorrect, or violates a rule of grammar. It is not wrong, or incorrect, or in violation of a rule. It may be unidiomatic in some contexts, and thus should be avoided unless it serves a rhetorical or other stylistic purpose.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    There are two generally-accepted styles:
    A, B, C, D and E.
    A, B, C, D, and E. <The comma after D is sometimes referred to as the "Oxford comma" because this style is used by the Oxford University Press.

    That doesn't prevent you from inserting ands here and there if the context requires it.
    Red and yellow and pink and green, orange and purple and blue: I can sing a rainbow ... ... ...
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    More Fowler, on the combined use of commas and ands: "In the type sentence, which contains two enumerations, it would be legitimate to use commas as well as andswith one set and not with the other, if it were desired either to avoid monotony or to give one list special emphasis."
     

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    But in my example I gave in the first post, if I suggested to someone learning English that it's best to take out the "and" before oranges, this isn't wrong of me, is it? (just for future clarification)
     

    river

    Senior Member
    U.S. English
    But in my example I gave in the first post, if I suggested to someone learning English that it's best to take out the "and" before oranges, this isn't wrong of me, is it? (just for future clarification)

    Repeated ands aren't wrong. They tend to happen when people are still thinking about something: "Let's see - I'll have one these, and two of those, and one of these, and three of those, oh, and one of these."

    Fun fact: the "Oxford" comma is also know as the "Harvard" comma.
     

    Toadie

    Senior Member
    English
    The exta "ands" are only right when, like you said, you are still thinking. Technically, they aren't right, though. They are only excusable when you pause in between saying something. Kind of like: "I'll have a... uhh... an apple."
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    In my opinion, the extra "ands" are acceptable if:

    1. You know it is not conventional in usage.

    2. You know the conventional usage and how to structure the sentence using it.

    3. You feel that the extra "ands" are useful for either artistic or expressive effects.

    4. You know that there will be some criticism for the use of the extra "ands", and in spite of that risk you think they are worthwhile...

    Then go ahead and use them.

    Using them out of ignorance is a bad deal; using them with knowledge can be very effective.
     

    Kotuku33

    Senior Member
    French & English, Alberta, Canada
    In an academic text, do people have an opinion on whether the use of the Oxford comma must be slavishly applied? Sometimes I feel like a sentence needs one and then in another sentence it just feels slavish and a bit pretentious to put one in. Do the editors out there choose a style and stick with it no matter what in a given text?
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    Kotuku33, this is something that many members feel quite passionate about :), so I've merged your question with one of the earlier threads on this topic. I hope some of your questions are answered in this thread, but if not, you're welcome to add to it.

    JustKate
    English Only moderator
     

    nuggets12345

    Member
    English-America
    <This thread has been merged with an earlier one.>

    Can someone explain to me when you do and do not put a comma before "and" when listing. Here is an example: grapes, oranges, apples, and bananas.
     
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    dipsota

    Senior Member
    Español- Buenos Aires -Argentina
    This is a style choice known as a "serial comma". Both styles are correct. I usually use: grapes, oranges, apples and bananas.
     

    Lena_Kim

    Member
    Korean
    <This thread has been merged with an earlier one.>

    A, B, and C / A, B and C

    Which one is correct?
     
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    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    ... but may mean different things or should be used in different contexts.
     

    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    It's the "Oxford Comma" problem. In general I prefer the final comma, but my observation has been that in modern editing commas are being done away with as much as possible. If you find that the final comma adds clarity, then use it. If you find it is awkward and unnecessary, then don't use it.
     

    lingvoforum

    Member
    slovak
    New question added to previous thread.
    Cagey, moderator

    Hello,

    is there any difference concerning the use of coma in the following sentences:

    Quizzes on content, vocabulary, grammar and writing

    Evaluation of content, reading, listening, grammar, and vocabulary.

    Context: enumeration. Are the both sentences correct? Or should there be also a coma before the word "and" in the first sentence?

    Thank you.
     
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    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Thank you, I have already read it but it is not clear for me. I really do not understand it and do not know which one use.
    I would say that in your example you can probably do it either way, with or without the comma. If it were my sentence, I'd omit it. :)
     

    Sarp84224

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    <Added to this thread. Nat>

    1. My three sons are called, John, Paul, and Dave.

    2. My three sons are called John, Paul and Dave.

    I think that the first sentence is correct because there is a pause between John and Paul so I think there should also be a pause between Paul and Dave.

    Which sentence is grammatically correct?
     
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    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Both are correct. The comma before and is the Oxford comma or the serial comma. See earlier discussion above.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Yes, sorry, didn't notice that stray comma. :oops: Thank you Loob for noticing everything! :)
     
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