Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I'm looking for a concise phrase for the sentence construction "a, b, c, and d". That is, a comma-separated list of things, where the last comma is either replaced or accompanied by the word "and".

share|improve this question

closed as not a real question by Robusto, Cerberus, MετάEd, Kristina Lopez, Carlo_R. Jan 25 '13 at 16:33

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

3  
What's wrong with list? –  TimLymington Jan 24 '13 at 22:29
    
@TimLymington "list" is too generic. The specific action I'm looking for is a transformation from a simple comma separated list to one with an "and" before the last element. –  Josh Jan 24 '13 at 22:35
1  
Actually, list is precise and specific in describing the thing you say you want described. –  Robusto Jan 24 '13 at 22:36
    
@Robusto I disagree. "a, b, c, d" is a list. So is "a, b, c, and d". I'm looking for a word or phrase that describes the latter construction but NOT the former. –  Josh Jan 24 '13 at 22:52
    
A comma-separated list of things, where the last comma is either replaced or accompanied by the word "and". –  Edwin Ashworth Jan 24 '13 at 23:40
show 3 more comments

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The specific action I'm looking for is a transformation from a simple comma separated list to one with an "and" before the last element.

Not using and in a list is called asyndeton.

Such a list is styled asyndetic and the action of adding an and might be called syndetication, although I can't find a reference for that.

Using and between every element in a list ("a and b and c and d", in the manner of excited children) is called polysyndeton — that's listed in OED but not ODO.

I suppose a list with just one conjunction might be termed monosyndetic. I can't find a reference for that either.

share|improve this answer
1  
Rather than syndetication, you can just say the construction is a syndeton, which is well-attested. Monosyndeton is also found in linguistic works like this. –  Jon Hanna Jan 24 '13 at 23:52
    
good answer. coordination without a conjunction can also be called asyndetic coordination, and coordination with a conjunction is called syndetic coordination. –  jlovegren Jan 25 '13 at 3:38
add comment

I would just call that a series. (This is also why the Oxford comma is sometimes called a serial comma.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.