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Old
10-14-2010, 12:56 AM
  #176
Terence Peterman
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Originally Posted by CantSeeColors View Post
How can either be factually incorrect? The presence or absence of a comma doesn't change any of the facts in the sentence (in this context).
It's not that it's factually incorrect, but that it can create confusion depending on perception (which the writer has nothing to do with but still has to deal with). Omitting the Oxford comma before "and" in a sentence can make it look as though the two items are grouped together (ex: The shore house cost was split evenly between Ray, Joe, Eddie and Frank as opposed to [...]Ray, Joe, Eddie, and Frank," which deliberately separates everyone.

This isn't based on anything scholarly, but only my own experiences. It's why I prefer the comma before the and. The example above isn't a great one, but there's certainly been times where I've become confused because of the sentence's context. To me, not using the comma before and just looks rushed. I also think that having it in there better conveys how it would be spoken, which contributes to the flow of any paper at any level.

But this is probably more than anyone ever wanted to know on an individual's feelings on the comma.

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10-14-2010, 06:04 AM
  #177
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Originally Posted by CantSeeColors View Post
How can either be factually incorrect? The presence or absence of a comma doesn't change any of the facts in the sentence (in this context).
It can change the facts in a sentence. Some sentences could literally be read two different ways by virtue of that comma.

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Originally Posted by Pantokrator View Post
Correct according to Turabian A Manual for Writers 6th edition, 3.68 (page 53):

"In a series consisting of three or more elements, the elements are separated by commas. When a conjuction joins the last two elements, a comma is used before the conjunction.

Example: We have a choice of copper, silver, or gold."

Turabian is currently on the 7th edition (which is a nuisance and really anoying to use compared to the previous 2 editions), but I am certain she maintains this rule.
This seems to sum it up pretty well

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Originally Posted by Rick Blaine View Post
It's not that it's factually incorrect, but that it can create confusion depending on perception (which the writer has nothing to do with but still has to deal with). Omitting the Oxford comma before "and" in a sentence can make it look as though the two items are grouped together (ex: The shore house cost was split evenly between Ray, Joe, Eddie and Frank as opposed to [...]Ray, Joe, Eddie, and Frank," which deliberately separates everyone.

This isn't based on anything scholarly, but only my own experiences. It's why I prefer the comma before the and. The example above isn't a great one, but there's certainly been times where I've become confused because of the sentence's context. To me, not using the comma before and just looks rushed. I also think that having it in there better conveys how it would be spoken, which contributes to the flow of any paper at any level.

But this is probably more than anyone ever wanted to know on an individual's feelings on the comma.
Haha, I'm just glad I'm not the only one who thinks about it!

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10-14-2010, 07:25 AM
  #178
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Blaine View Post
It's not that it's factually incorrect, but that it can create confusion depending on perception (which the writer has nothing to do with but still has to deal with). Omitting the Oxford comma before "and" in a sentence can make it look as though the two items are grouped together (ex: The shore house cost was split evenly between Ray, Joe, Eddie and Frank as opposed to [...]Ray, Joe, Eddie, and Frank," which deliberately separates everyone.

This isn't based on anything scholarly, but only my own experiences. It's why I prefer the comma before the and. The example above isn't a great one, but there's certainly been times where I've become confused because of the sentence's context. To me, not using the comma before and just looks rushed. I also think that having it in there better conveys how it would be spoken, which contributes to the flow of any paper at any level.

But this is probably more than anyone ever wanted to know on an individual's feelings on the comma.
Couldn't agree more. I always use the comma before the 'and'.

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10-14-2010, 08:21 AM
  #179
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I'm 24 and can't believe I have friends that do the 2 spaces after a sentence thing. I don't know where they learned it, because I never did.

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10-14-2010, 08:34 AM
  #180
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Originally Posted by Jester View Post
Actually, you shouldn't put two spaces after the end of the sentence. The reason that got instituted into culture is because it is a hold over from block typewriters, which had the same spacing for each character. Therefore, you'd put two spaces in order to distinguish a new sentence.

However, with fonts on a computer you do not have that problem. An "i" takes up less space than an "e", for example. So, when you're writing on a computer you should only put one space after a period completing a sentence.
I still do two spaces. There are many fonts, such as Courier New, which are absolutely acceptable in academia that are block fonts. And there are many instances in modern computing where, for alignment/readability purposes, a block font is encouraged. I still see both all of the time. Old habits die hard.

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10-14-2010, 09:06 AM
  #181
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Originally Posted by Valhoun View Post
I still do two spaces. There are many fonts, such as Courier New, which are absolutely acceptable in academia that are block fonts. And there are many instances in modern computing where, for alignment/readability purposes, a block font is encouraged. I still see both all of the time. Old habits die hard.
In my case I learned on a typewriter (a real one, not electric) and I was taught to put 2 spaces. I continue to do so. I see the logic in using 1 I suppose, but I also don't see a need to change.

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10-14-2010, 09:09 AM
  #182
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For all the iPhone users out there when ending a sentence I'm sure you just hit the space button twice which adds a period and a space to get the next sentence started. I always wondered why it only put 1 space after the period and now I know. Consider my mind blown.

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Old
10-14-2010, 09:58 AM
  #183
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Originally Posted by Beef Invictus View Post
I remember the MLA handbook I had actually contained the explanation you gave about typewriters and such, and explicitly told us not to use two spaces when using a computer. Our professor told the class to just ignore that, since he had such a hard time breaking the habit himself.

on a side note, i just pulled out a bunch of old books to see if any of them had the double space. They don't...but of course, all those extra spaces would add up pretty quickly over the course of 400 pages. I guess removing the space could have been a cost-cutting measure for printers, regardless of era.
Yeah, I'd imagine typesetters always had the shortened space... just because, yes, if you add a space after every sentence you're going to end up with added pages which means more money for the publisher.

And printers are big on cost cutting... that's why a lot of books have end notes as opposed to footnotes (which is really irritating when you're doing research).

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10-14-2010, 09:58 AM
  #184
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Blaine View Post
It's not that it's factually incorrect, but that it can create confusion depending on perception (which the writer has nothing to do with but still has to deal with). Omitting the Oxford comma before "and" in a sentence can make it look as though the two items are grouped together (ex: The shore house cost was split evenly between Ray, Joe, Eddie and Frank as opposed to [...]Ray, Joe, Eddie, and Frank," which deliberately separates everyone.

This isn't based on anything scholarly, but only my own experiences. It's why I prefer the comma before the and. The example above isn't a great one, but there's certainly been times where I've become confused because of the sentence's context. To me, not using the comma before and just looks rushed. I also think that having it in there better conveys how it would be spoken, which contributes to the flow of any paper at any level.

But this is probably more than anyone ever wanted to know on an individual's feelings on the comma.
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoshLind View Post
It can change the facts in a sentence. Some sentences could literally be read two different ways by virtue of that comma.
Then it's an ambiguity issue, not correctness. Absent that ambiguity the other option is still there.

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10-14-2010, 10:02 AM
  #185
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Originally Posted by CantSeeColors View Post
Then it's an ambiguity issue, not correctness. Absent that ambiguity the other option is still there.
Right, and that's why there is discussion concerning whether the comma should be mandatory or not.

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10-14-2010, 10:05 AM
  #186
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Originally Posted by Jester View Post
Right, and that's why there is discussion concerning whether the comma should be mandatory or not.
As an abuser of gross over-commatization, I have to say I'd love any excuse to remove commas from my work. I spent the first 22 or so years of my life using one before "and", but more and more of what I read in law school didn't include it and I slowly changed to stop using it. I do think it reads cleaner that way as long as the sentence is clear.

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10-14-2010, 10:05 AM
  #187
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Originally Posted by Jester View Post
And printers are big on cost cutting... that's why a lot of books have end notes as opposed to footnotes (which is really irritating when you're doing research).
I can not morther****ing stand end notes.

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10-14-2010, 10:10 AM
  #188
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I can not morther****ing stand end notes.
Worst things ever.

Here's something I might as well throw out there that has always bugged me simply because I don't know the answer: what's the correct usage of ensure and insure? I've always used ensure in basically every case where I'm not talking about the **** banks do, but more and more I see insure in other contexts. Are they interchangeable?

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Old
10-14-2010, 10:14 AM
  #189
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Originally Posted by CantSeeColors View Post
As an abuser of gross over-commatization, I have to say I'd love any excuse to remove commas from my work. I spent the first 22 or so years of my life using one before "and", but more and more of what I read in law school didn't include it and I slowly changed to stop using it. I do think it reads cleaner that way as long as the sentence is clear.
I generally find strict grammar irritating, and actually rebelled against it in HS... but more and more I've come around to the importance of it.

I would imagine legal writing embraces streamlined writing... and there you go. As a history grad student, we're locked into Chicago Style, so apparently I will be using the strict commas...

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10-14-2010, 10:44 AM
  #190
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I'd like to recommend one of the all-time best, and most widely used, reference books for grammar, punctuation, etc.: The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. Whyte. The first edition was published in 1959, but it is still very relevant to writing clearly and concisely.

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10-14-2010, 10:46 AM
  #191
Terence Peterman
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Originally Posted by CantSeeColors View Post
Then it's an ambiguity issue, not correctness. Absent that ambiguity the other option is still there.
You're right but, in my opinion, it still has to be accounted for. To me, it just takes out any potential ambiguity.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CantSeeColors View Post
As an abuser of gross over-commatization, I have to say I'd love any excuse to remove commas from my work. I spent the first 22 or so years of my life using one before "and", but more and more of what I read in law school didn't include it and I slowly changed to stop using it. I do think it reads cleaner that way as long as the sentence is clear.
I can definitely understand why Law writing would encourage not using a comma before "and." When it comes down to it, it ends up more of a case of the context the writing is set than anything.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CantSeeColors View Post
Here's something I might as well throw out there that has always bugged me simply because I don't know the answer: what's the correct usage of ensure and insure? I've always used ensure in basically every case where I'm not talking about the **** banks do, but more and more I see insure in other contexts. Are they interchangeable?
For the most part, yeah, they're interchangeable. They both find their origin in late middle english, and it's a specificity thing. From the OED:

Quote:
Originally Posted by OED
Usage

There is considerable overlap between the meaning and use of insure and ensure. In both US and British English, the primary meaning of insure is the commercial sense of providing financial compensation in the event of damage to property; ensure is not used at all in this sense. For the more general senses, ensure is more likely to be used, but insure and ensure are often interchangeable, particularly in US English: bail is posted to insure that the defendant appears for trial the system is run to ensure that a good quality of service is maintained

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Old
10-14-2010, 10:48 AM
  #192
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I'd like to recommend one of the all-time best, and most widely used, reference books for grammar, punctuation, etc.: The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. Whyte. The first edition was published in 1959, but it is still very relevant to writing clearly and concisely.
Pandas Eats, Shoots and Leaves is a great read and informative too... also the title is relevant to our comma discussion.

If you're doing academic writing, some version of the Chicago Manual of Style is a good book to have... the full one is more information than you will ever *ing need, however. I have it mostly for the reference information... but it has a full grammar section, too.

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10-14-2010, 10:48 AM
  #193
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10-14-2010, 10:49 AM
  #194
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Originally Posted by Jester View Post
I generally find strict grammar irritating, and actually rebelled against it in HS... but more and more I've come around to the importance of it.
The thing about strict grammar is it's so easy to hate as we gain knowledge on it throughout primary and secondary school, but only because we're only taught where to put it and not what it does or means. There's a lot of **** going on in grammar about which a lot of people are pretty clueless. (I find this to be particularly true if a person doesn't have a background involving Catholic school. I was in one K-8 and I kick all my friends' ***** in English/grammar, and they kick mine in math and science.)

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If you're doing academic writing, some version of the Chicago Manual of Style is a good book to have... the full one is more information than you will ever *ing need, however. I have it mostly for the reference information... but it has a full grammar section, too.
I like Chicago much more than MLA, but am subjected to MLA because I'm an English major. A lot of Chicago just seems more logical.


Last edited by Terence Peterman: 10-14-2010 at 10:56 AM.
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Old
10-14-2010, 10:52 AM
  #195
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The thing about strict grammar is it's so easy to hate as we gain knowledge on it throughout primary and secondary school, but only because we're only taught where to put it and not what it does or means. There's a lot of **** going on in grammar about which a lot of people are pretty clueless.
I just think you need to have read a lot... and read bad writing... and then you begin to appreciate grammar. In all seriousness, the moment you start grading other people's writing grammar errors jump out in grating ways with a quickness. We can naturally gloss over grammar in our own writing because of our mental proximity (it naturally makes sense to us).

Once I got into grad school and was writing a lot... editing a lot... reading a lot... it really began to truly click. Of course, then you run into the problem of finding beauty in the use of a semicolon and you contemplate killing yourself.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Blaine View Post
I like Chicago much more than MLA, but am subjected to MLA because I'm an English major. A lot of Chicago just seems more logical.
Yeah, I don't really get why academia at large can come together and agree to a style... it seems like most academic publishers go with Chicago, which would make you think that would be the norm.


Last edited by Jester: 10-14-2010 at 11:04 AM.
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Old
10-14-2010, 11:01 AM
  #196
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The English language sucks. Who wastes time arguing over the internet about such meaningless crap?

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10-14-2010, 11:04 AM
  #197
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Originally Posted by Jester View Post
I just think you need to have read a lot... and read bad writing... and then you begin to appreciate grammar. In all seriousness, the moment you start grading other people's writing grammar errors jump out in grating ways with a quickness. We can naturally gloss over grammar in our own writing because of our mental proximity (it naturally makes sense to us).

Once I got into grad school and was writing a lot... editing a lot... reading a lot... it really began to truly click. Of course, then you run into the problem of finding beauty in the use of a semicolon and you contemplate killing yourself.
I agree with this. My wife's a high school teacher. I help when she has to grade multiple choice tests and run when it's essay-grading time.

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10-14-2010, 11:04 AM
  #198
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The English language sucks. Who wastes time arguing over the internet about such meaningless crap?
No, it doesn't!


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Old
10-14-2010, 11:06 AM
  #199
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No, it doesn't!

It kinda does... but like all other world problems, I blame the German influence on English for all its problems. If only the Romans had finished the job...

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10-14-2010, 11:08 AM
  #200
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Originally Posted by Jester
Pandas Eats, Shoots and Leaves is a great read and informative too... also the title is relevant to our comma discussion.

If you're doing academic writing, some version of the Chicago Manual of Style is a good book to have... the full one is more information than you will ever *ing need, however. I have it mostly for the reference information... but it has a full grammar section, too.
Thanks for the recommendation, Jester. I've heard alot () about Eats, Shoots and Leaves, but never took the time to pick it up. As a medical editor, I'm stuck on the American Medical Association style guide, as cumbersome a tome as any with the ad nauseum rules about taxonomy, etc. It's amazing how many "educated" professionals are just plain poor writers.

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