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Basically, I wish to write something along the lines of

Bob, C.J., Greg and Charles all went to the store.

I'm not sure about the use of the comma after the C.J. Is this correct punctuation? Are there better, less awkward, alternatives?

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marked as duplicate by Kit Z. Fox Jun 4 '13 at 12:49

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.

Why is C.J. so special that he/she cannot have a spell-out name in the list? –  Stan Jun 4 '13 at 1:47
@Stan In all honesty, I was just choosing a random name that has an abbreviation in it. I guess it could really be any other abbreviation, but there are plenty of situations where (especially in dialogue), people would use abbreviations in lists. –  Reliable Source Jun 4 '13 at 6:54
This is a question of punctuation, not grammar. That comma cannot possibly be correct or incorrect grammatically. You could replace it with a plus or a backslash, and it wouldn't change the grammaticality of the sentence once bit. –  RegDwigнt Jun 4 '13 at 9:56
And also: english.stackexchange.com/questions/12872/… will help, I think. –  Kit Z. Fox Jun 4 '13 at 12:49

2 Answers 2

I agree a comma immediately following a period or full stop does look weird, but it would look worse without!

"Bob, C.J, Greg and Charles all went to the store."

So your way of punctuating was in the end, correct.

Bob, C.J., Greg and Charles all went to the store.

The rule is that a comma mustn't go after an initial, ever.

I did a bit of research to double check and I didn't find anything that contradicted my gut feeling.



However, you could change the order of names thereby avoiding the inaesthetic coupling of the period and comma.

"Bob, Greg, Charles and C.J. all went to the store."

EDIT: I thought it best to rephrase and change the original modal verb, "shouldn't" to "mustn't" to avoid any possible misinterpretation. I hope, I've made myself clearer!

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I strongly disagree. If the person is commonly referred to as "C.J.", then I see nothing wrong with referring to him/her in that manner in such a sentence. Note that "Bob" & "Greg" are also shortened names. I can also see that there could quite easily be a list of organisations that are commonly referred to by initials (with periods), where you may want to include them in a comma-separated list. –  TrevorD Jun 4 '13 at 10:50
-1 Both of the references you quote include sentences with a comma immediately following a period, as examples of appropriate usage: Karen tries not to eat chips, chocolate, etc., even though she loves junk food.; She works at ABC Company, Inc., where she has been working as an administrative assistant. In those sentences, the period after the etc and Inc are both indicating that they are contractions, which is the same function as the period after an initial. Why should a one-letter contraction be treated differently from a 3-letter contraction? –  TrevorD Jun 4 '13 at 10:58
@TrevorD I'm sorry but I fail to see why you are berating me. I never said that C.J. should not be referred to in that manner. My second suggestion merely stated that the order of names could be changed. Not his name. And I made perfectly clear, so I thought, that the sentence with only a comma after C.J. as in: C.J, looked worse! I even backed my argument with the very links you mentioned. I'm sorry if you thought I was contradicting myself, far from it. –  Mari-Lou A Jun 4 '13 at 17:37
Sorry, it appears I completely misunderstood your answer. Your comment A comma shouldn't go after an initial, I understood to mean that one shouldn't write C.J., - I didn't realise you meant A comma shouldn't go immediately after an initial. I was also confused by your first sentence and quotation, I thought they contradicted each other. I read you as arguing against C.J., and possibly preferring just C.J. with comma omitted, or using a name to avoid using an initial. And I thought you were using the refs to show they didn't use commas after initials. Mea culpa. –  TrevorD Jun 4 '13 at 23:18
@TrevorD perhaps I am at fault, too. If you misinterpreted my words then my writing was unclear. I will edit and rephrase my answer but only tomorrow when my head should be in working order. :) –  Mari-Lou A Jun 4 '13 at 23:30

The periods in C.J. don't punctuate. They act more like letters, and can thus be considered spelling rather than punctuation. Spelling doesn't affect how you use commas, so feel free to use a comma after C.J. whenever it makes sense to do so.

The only exception I can think of is when you end a sentence with a word that ends with a period. In that case, the period has to do double duty: it's both spelling and punctuation. Adding a second period would go against convention.

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