What I'm Reading

Whoever thought a "comma" would be the deciding factor in a case?

I certainly didn't. Granted, even the very best writers can misuse a comma (which is so easy to do). I certainly struggle with it. There's something about the "comma" that reeks of too many rules. Too many rules.

There's one rule that I detest most of all. The dreaded "comma in a series" rule applies to a “series” that consists of three or more items, in which the last two items are joined by "and, or, or nor."

A simple example: I love to eat apples, bananas, and pineapples.

Now, there are two types of people. Those who would put the comma after the banana and those who wouldn't. People have their own views on commas. However, that view can be a costly one.

As reported by the NY Times, the following state law doesn't have the serial comma, which might cost a dairy company in Portland, Me., about $10 million.

The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of:

(1) Agricultural produce;

(2) Meat and fish products; and

(3) Perishable foods.

There's a missing serial comma after "shipment."

Read the article. It's a valuable lesson in grammar.