Comma with Items in a Series

Jared Aragona

Comma with items in a series: Use commas to separate three or more words, phrases, or clauses written in a series.

Series of words and phrases:

In the United States, the field of anthropology includes the subfields of cultural anthropology, biological anthropology, linguistics, and archaeology.


Series of long phrases:

Activities archeologists do include conducting excavations in the field, handling artifacts carefully, materials testing on artifacts, and archiving artifacts for further research.

H3-Ox:  The Oxford Comma:  You have a stylistic choice whether to put a comma before the “and” connecting the last item in the series.  However, it can be recommended to prevent confusion or odd misinterpretation:

“For my eventual success in understanding comma use, I’d like to thank my parents, Emily Dickinson and my 8th grade grammar teacher.”

An Oxford comma after Dickinson would ensure understanding that this was a list and not an apposite phrase modifying “parents.” Be sure to check with your professor to confirm their opinion about Oxford commas.


The MLCKRB (Master List Code Key and Rule Book): An English Grammar & Style Handbook by Jared Aragona, CC BY 4.0


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Comma with Items in a Series Copyright © by Jared Aragona is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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