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Does the following sentence require a comma after the word "meal?"

Quizzing the waiter, complaining about the menu, and criticizing the meal, detract from your advocacy.

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marked as duplicate by tchrist, coleopterist, Kristina Lopez, MετάEd, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Mar 26 '13 at 22:35

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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Highly relevant answer. –  RegDwigнt Feb 26 '13 at 20:13
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An alternative would be to add a linking word like "all", as an aid to parsing the sentence: "Quizzing the waiter, complaining about the menu, and criticizing the meal all detract from your advocacy." –  Hammerite Feb 26 '13 at 20:32

3 Answers 3

No, you don't. Also, generally you don't need commas after the second-last item in a list (before the and) either:

Quizzing the waiter, complaining about the menu and criticizing the meal detract from your advocacy.

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"generally you don't" need the serial comma? Bah, I say. Generally, you do. –  ghoppe Feb 26 '13 at 21:06
    
@ghoppe funny. You should develop your comment into an answer. I'll upvote it. –  JAM Feb 26 '13 at 22:56

Two approaches to the issue:

WHEN DO YOU USE A COMMA? http://www.sandhills.edu/academic-departments/english/commaguidelines.html Do you feel comfortable knowing where to place a comma when you write? When asked this question, many people say they are never sure. Some people have been taught to use a comma whenever they pause, especially when they would pause in speaking. Since many people pause to breathe or to swallow, pausing is not a reliable reason for using a comma. Instead, follow this general rule for using a comma: Use a comma to guide the reader through the sentence and to prevent misreading. ...

Comma Usage Made Simple By Michael LaRocca http://www.absolutewrite.com/novels/comma_usage.htm Don't they drive you nuts?You can visit all the rules of style you want, and you can read all the books and articles you want. You'll still be confused. You'll see inconsistency. You'll see experts who don't agree with each other …Well, folks, here are some rules. A bare minimum. … (4) And finally, THE rule. It works for narrative and it works for dialogue. Read what you've written aloud. Wherever you would pause for breath, whack in a comma. Because, you have internalized the rules. You've been speaking English all your life. But as an aspiring writer, you've been so busy trying to learn "the rules" that you've forgotten the rule you've known all along. And you DO know it. … I'm pausing for emphasis. Read my sentences aloud. Pause at every comma. The rhythm works. It's how I talk, and you won't be all freaked out and confused as you listen because I paused in funny places. Speaking as an editor, I run into a lot of writers who have problems with commas. …We're not stupid. As Sean Connery noted in Finding Forrester, critics spend a day destroying what they couldn't create in a lifetime. That's also what I think of people who want us to memorize dozens of silly rules about commas. They're pauses. Nothing more, nothing less. Pause where you want to pause, not where you think someone else thinks you're supposed to pause.

Personally, I appreciate both approaches. Sadly, they're not always compatible.

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If one thinks about how one would say the sentence in the example provided) in normal, everyday speech, you would have a slight pause after the "meal".

As the comma indicates a brief pause in the English language, then yes, the comma after "meal" would be correct.

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