Given that "A" is one set and "B" and "C" are cohesive, how should the following phrase be punctuated correctly?

A and B and C


2 Answers 2


You can write the matched pair with an ampersand instead of the word and to indicate that they are closer than the other items in the list:

We ordered spaghetti and fish & chips.

This usage isn't universal, although Wikipedia notes some specific cases where it's preferred:

In film credits for stories, screenplays, etc., & indicates a closer collaboration than and. The ampersand is used by the Writers Guild of America to denote two writers collaborating on a specific script, rather than one writer rewriting another's work. . . .

The ampersand can be used to indicate that the "and" in a listed item is a part of the item's name and not a separator (e.g. "Rock, pop, rhythm & blues, and hip hop").

If you're working with a particular style guide, it may have advice on whether ampersands are preferred (or forbidden) for these kinds of cases.


The only way to do it as it stands is A, and B and C. Whether that would be clear enough depends on the context. If it wasn't, then you might want to think of some other way of putting it.

  • 'Cornflakes, and bacon and eggs' would almost always be read the obvious way because bacon and eggs is such a common collocation. 'Jill and I ordered fish, and chips and peas' probably needs a 'respectively'. You may be forced into 'The four lads ordered fish and chips; fish, chips and peas; fish, chips, peas and gravy; and fish and peas' if you ever write up your diary in a restaurant. Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 7:58
  • Thanks a lot. I have another question related to punctuations. Please tell me whether the following sentences are correct or not. 01) Innodata is a company that provides BPO and KPO services. 02) Innodata is a company providing BPO and KPO services. 03) Innodata is a company, providing BPO and KPO services. Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 10:51
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    Any new question should be created as a NEW question - not within an existing question. BUT a question of the nature "Is this correct?" is off-topic on this site because it is deemed to be merely 'proofreading'. If you can explain why you think a sentence may be wrong or which particular aspect you are having a problem with, then the question my be acceptable. However, you may find English Language Learners more suitable for your basic questions.
    – TrevorD
    Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 11:24

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