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My mother, Theresa; my brother, Frank; and my sister, Danielle, are going to the meeting. (In this sentence I have one mother, one brother, and one sister.) The sentence is cluttered with punctuation, albeit correct I think.

The Associated Press replied and said to strictly use commas (which appear wrong):

My mother, Theresa, my brother, Frank, and my sister, Danielle, are going to the meeting.

They even said that, in the inverted construction, to do this (which looks worse):

Theresa, my mother, Frank, my brother, and Danielle, my sister, are going to the meeting.

Can we get away with removing all the punctuation and punctuate that same sentence thusly?

My mother Theresa, my brother Frank and my sister Danielle are going to the meeting. (In this sentence I have one mother, one brother, and one sister.)

Thank you.

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  • "Theresa, my mother, Frank, my brother, and Danielle, my sister, are going to the meeting." I think we'd be forced (for clarity) to use semicolons, do you? E.g., "Theresa, my mother; Frank, my brother; and Danielle, my sister, are going to the meeting." But we'd use a comma--not a semicolon--after "my sister", agreed? Feb 12 '14 at 15:56
  • At any rate, which presented versions would you accept? If you don't support any of them, how'd you punctuate each of these? Thank you. Feb 12 '14 at 16:00
  • You are wrong with your use of the semicolons; the AP is right to remove them and replace them with commas. As for the inverted construction, it puts the emphasis on the names, which I think is fine. You could get away without using their inverted construction suggestion, as long as you use the commas. Your use of the semicolon is incorrect.
    – Josh
    Feb 12 '14 at 16:01
  • Sorry, but this inverted construction (with just the commas) is correct? Theresa, my mother, Frank, my brother, and Danielle, my sister, are going to the meeting. Feb 12 '14 at 16:08
  • @Soylent Green The use of the semicolon as a 'super-comma' is becoming more acceptable (but since you don't give endorsement for your dogma, neither will I). So I could well say "You are wrong with your prescriptive 'You are wrong with your use of the semicolons' ". But obviously the AP is old-school. (FWIW, I'd use OP's final suggestion here.) Feb 12 '14 at 16:10
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The construction my brother Frank is common enough that it would probably appear less awkward than using semicolons as second-level commas. So I would go with your last construction:

My mother Theresa, my brother Frank, and my sister Danielle are going to the meeting.

with the noticeable difference of putting a comma before the "and". ;-)

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  • Thanks, everyone. This is the best forum out there. You people are brilliant. I'm just learning ... not really good at this stuff (as you can readily decipher). Feb 12 '14 at 17:46
  • This is a Q&A site, not a forum, but we appreciate the endorsement anyway :P
    – Joe Z.
    Feb 12 '14 at 17:52

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