-4

Is it okay to delete the comma after '1969' below ?

Joe said, "February 7, 1969[,]is my date of birth." 

And can we delete the comma after 'Indiana' and '2015' below?

Lisa reported, "The Gary, Indiana[,] man was arrested on charges of conspiracy."

Johnson said, "The February 1, 2015[,] meeting has been canceled."

After all, '1969', 'Indiana' and '2015' are all essential information and are not parenthetical elements; hence those commas should be removed, right?

Thank you.

10
  • 1
    None of those sentences need commas anyway. They're not optional in those cases, they're wrong. Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 8:54
  • the first one can avoided by saying "My date of birth is February 7, 1969"
    – mplungjan
    Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 8:56
  • But we'd need one after Indiana in the following sentence: Mike said, "Gary, Indiana, is my home town." If we omitted the comma after Indiana in that sentence it'd look as though we were telling Gary that Indiana is my home town. Thus we should retain the comma in this one, correct? Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 9:01
  • 2
    @James Webster I've seen a strong argument based on traditional rules that the second comma in "The Gary, Indiana, man was arrested on charges of conspiracy." is quite acceptable (see the thread I mention; see Jon Hanna's mention of parentheticals ). What justification do you have to say it is wrong? (Please don't just cite a style guide advising this particular style.) Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 9:19
  • 2
    @James Webster So how about correcting / deleting your erroneous claim above. Which persists in your answer: 'They're not optional in those cases, they're wrong.' Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 9:25

1 Answer 1

1

None of those sentences need commas anyway. They're not optional in those cases, they're wrong.

However it's fine to have a comma after a date.

e.g.

After the meeting on 1 February, 2014, two decisions were made about the university's new prospectus.

And it's fine to have them after your toponym, just not in that sentence.

First, the prospectus would picture Gary, Indiana, the destination of the new campus.


The commas in the middle of those examples are just part of the layout of the constructs. Don't treat those like "normal", clause separating commas.

1 February, 2014  
          ^
Gary, Indiana
    ^

Looking at an example from your comments, this one is a little more fuzzy:

The confusion arises because "Gary" is also a person's name. But would you put a comma there if the toponym wasn't a given name?

Mike said, "Gary, Indiana, is my home town."
I said, "South Shields, England is my home town."

In this case I would say the comma is optional.

12
  • In summation, all four examples are punctuated below exactly as presented, correct (yes or no)? Joe said, "February 7, 1969 is my date of birth." (No comma after "1969" here?) Lisa reported, "The Gary, Indiana man was arrested on charges of conspiracy." (No comma after "Indiana" here?) Johnson said, "The February 1, 2015 meeting has been canceled." (No comma after "2015" here?) Mike said, "Gary, Indiana, is my home town." (Comma required after "Indiana" in this one?) Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 9:15
  • The first three are correct now. Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 9:17
  • 1
    James, how could the comma in the last sentence be optional? We need a comma after Indiana in the following sentence: Mike said, "Gary, Indiana, is my home town." If we omitted the comma after Indiana in that sentence it'd look as though we were telling Gary that Indiana is my home town. Thus we should retain the comma in this one, correct? The inclusion or omission of the comma after Indiana drastically changes the complexion -- and meaning -- of the sentence here, no? Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 9:21
  • 1
    So the it would be senseless to say that the pattern follows an inviolable rule. You can't just ignore awkward cases. Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 9:29
  • 2
    It doesn't alter the meaning. It may/could/would make it ambiguous, especially if the audience is unaware of A Town Like Gary. There's no reason to separate the subject "Gary, Indiana" from its verb; and one could say that if there's a comma after Indiana then that word is a parenthetical phrase (so both are correct).
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 10:17

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.