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Serenity Carr, Assistant Editor
Using Commas with Two or More Nouns in a List
Wednesday November 8th 2017
Question
In the sentence "I'm having cookies candies cake and soft drinks" where would the commas go? — Carrie Jean , United States
Answer

When you have a list of nouns in a sentence, you should put a comma after each noun except the last one, and sometimes the second to last one, with a space after each comma but not before. In the United States it is common to put a comma after every noun except the last one, as in the following sentences:

  • I'm having cookies, candies, cake, and soft drinks.
  • She bought eggs, milk, and cheese.
  • The boy put away his trucks, his books, his blocks, and his stuffed animals.

 

In the United Kingdom it is more common to leave out the last comma, before the word "and," as in the following sentences:

  • I'm having cookies, candies, cake and soft drinks.
  • She bought eggs, milk and cheese.
  • The boy put away his trucks, his books, his blocks and his stuffed animals.

 

Sometimes that last comma is needed so it is clear what you are talking about. Look at the following sentence:

  • He called his parents, the principal and the police chief.

 

In the above sentence it is not clear if he called two people or four people. Are the principal and the police chief his parents? If they aren't, you need the last comma, as below:

  • He called his parents, the principal, and the police chief.

 

Now it is clear that he called four people, and that his parents are not the principal and the police chief.

 

I hope this helps. For more posts about words and usage, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

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