I want to list 3 things within a sentence in an article, and I don't want to use multiple lines. Is the following OK?

"I need to get 3 things from the supermarket: a) eggs, b) milk and c) coffee"


closed as unclear what you're asking by user19148, Kristina Lopez, MetaEd, Matt E. Эллен, RegDwigнt Jun 26 '13 at 15:17

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    This question appears to be off-topic because it is not about English. – MetaEd Jun 26 '13 at 2:57
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    Just: "I need to get three things from the supermarket: eggs, milk and coffee." – Andrew Leach Jun 26 '13 at 13:10
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    @Andrew looks like two things to me. :) – tchrist Jun 26 '13 at 15:07
  • @tchrist Despite its name, the Oxford comma is not greatly used on this side of the Atlantic. I eschew it and remain correct (albeit differently correct!) – Andrew Leach Jun 26 '13 at 15:21
  • @AndrewLeach Just try passing three arguments to a function using but a single comma. This may be part of why programmers prefer the clarifying comma. You will also find that most technical works use it. For those who don’t, I leave them to a delectable repast of egg salad, tunafish and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. – tchrist Jun 26 '13 at 16:39

That should be:

I need to get three things from the supermarket: eggs, milk, and coffee.

  • The thing is, that I want to expand on a) b) and c) later on. Perhaps the supermarket example looks too simple. It is supposed to be "the corresponding solutions are divided into three groups: a) right traveling waves, b) left traveling waves and c) stationary waves" with expansion on each part later on. – user1337 Jun 23 '13 at 19:49
  • @Panda If you are going to return to the group names, and especially if you are going to repeat the enumerating markers, then the a), b), c) works well. If not, follow tchrist's guidance. – bib Jun 23 '13 at 20:11
  • Even in the case of waves, I'd be inclined to repeat the phrases rather than replacing them with markers a), b), and c). In the case of far longer phrases, though, I can see the need for markers. – Andreas Blass Jun 26 '13 at 0:31
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    @Panda: in the future, I would strongly suggest including such crucial information in your question, and perhaps also doing so before you start getting answers. Different question is different. – RegDwigнt Jun 26 '13 at 15:16

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