comma/not before 'for short' [adverb]: called Katherine, or Kate, for


New Member
Sorry to trouble you.
I'm having a disagreement with a colleague over whether the adverb for short should be preceded by a comma. I.e.

1. I'm called Katherine, or Kate for short.
2. I'm called Katherine, or Kate, for short.

Does anyone know which is "correct" and why? Or of a source that I can look to for a definitive rule?

Thank you for your time.
  • If you bracket off something with two commas it usually means you can take it out completely - it's just an afterthought or an unimportant rephrasing:

    We admitted Katherine, or Kate as she sometimes was, to the club. = We admitted Katherine to the club.

    So in your sentence, two commas suggest you could leave that whole chunk out:

    I am called Katherine, or Kate, for short. = I am called Katherine for short. :thumbsdown:

    Compare with a proper use of two commas:

    My name is Katherine, but I am called Kate, or Kitty, for short. [You could leave 'or Kitty' out and it would still work.]
    Thank you both for your thoughts.
    I had been hoping for a definitive rule regarding adverbs finishing a sentence and comma usage. I opt for the first usage as well, as do about 80% of articles listed in the Corpus of Contemporary AE (from a selection of 55). Though I do wonder what rule the other 20% of writers were applying. Several magazines used both versions, though two times out of three it was without a comma.
    Anyway, thanks again for your replies.