Which of these sentences is written correctly?

  1. Angela has three brothers, Mark, Adam, and Ryan.
  2. Angela has three brothers: Mark, Adam, and Ryan.
  3. Angela has three brothers Mark, Adam, and Ryan

Angela has three brothers: Mark, Adam, and Ryan.

That's the one to go with.

N.B. This is called the syntactical-descriptive function of the colon: it "introduces a description—in particular, makes explicit the elements of a set" (Wikipedia)

  • 2
    The example with no punctuation is horrible by the way. :D – Alenanno Apr 13 '11 at 17:19
  • The comma before the and really bothers me :| – mplungjan Apr 13 '11 at 17:21
  • 3
    @mplungian: That's another issue. But while the "Oxford comma" may bother you, it's at least a negotiable stylistic point. – Robusto Apr 13 '11 at 17:25
  • 1
    I have it on good authority that the "Oxford comma" didn't even go to college. – The Raven Apr 13 '11 at 17:50
  • 4
    Robusto's answer is correct (of course), but just to add another possibility: you could use a dash, and write Angela has three brothers—Mark, Adam and Ryan. – psmears Apr 13 '11 at 18:10

Angela has three brothers: Mark, Adam, and Ryan.

  • Welcome to EL&U. Please edit your answer to explain why it is right and to provide at least one reliable citation. Thanks. – MetaEd Jan 29 '13 at 18:06

In a series of three or more terms with a single conjunction, use a comma after each term except the last. With only a few exceptions, the serial comma clarifies any ambiguity when the meaning is not as simple as the example above. Clarity ought to be the objective in writing!

protected by tchrist Jan 29 '13 at 18:07

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