How do I avoid confusion when "and" is in a comma-separated list?

E.g. "The guy eats, weighs a lot, and moves and jumps well."

If I don't use a serial comma, it would be:

E.g. "The guy eats, weighs a lot and moves and jumps well."

As you can tell it may cause some confusion when "and" is part of a list.


1 Answer 1


The practice of not using a serial comma when the last element is preceded by the word "and" often bothers me because these missing commas are very often spoken. When I read, I usually hear the printed text being spoken in my mind. So I would definitely add the serial comma, but as an editor I would not hesitate to add "he" to the third item in the series, which is to me a clause with a missing subject. Thus:

"The guy eats, weighs a lot, and he moves and jumps well."

Punctuation should be based not only on printed rules — the sound of the spoken words should also be a guide.

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