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Which one is correct?

"My name is Karl, and I'll be helping you today." "My name is Karl and I'll be helping you today."

  • Possible duplicate of When to use a comma before "and" – Laurel Dec 10 '18 at 4:14
  • @Laurel See also my comment at youcantryreachingme – Kris Dec 10 '18 at 8:13
  • A good point! Not quite about the Oxford comma at all. – Kris Dec 10 '18 at 8:14
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    @Kris You're absolutely right that it's not about the Oxford comma (which requires 3 items). It's only a duplicate because it's the same situation as mentioned in this example from the other question: "He is a great player(,) and he prefers to play Counter-Strike." – Laurel Dec 10 '18 at 8:24
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Both are correct.

In the first case you are using the comma before the word 'and' - this usage is termed comparable to using the "Oxford comma". Some English classes taught that a comma should never be used before the word 'and' but others argue the Oxford comma makes explicit that there should be a pause in the delivery of the message:

My name is Karl, (pause) and I'll be helping you today.

Cf:

My name is Karl and I'll be helping you today (no pause).

See this reference for the way in which an Oxford comma affects legibility, and this one for a definition of the Oxford comma, which states the Oxford comma relates to a list of three or more items (unlike in your sentence, but I believe the effect is comparable here anyway).

  • Just because it occurs before an and it may not make an Oxford comma. – Kris Dec 10 '18 at 8:12
  • Ok, it's not an Oxford comma because the list of items does not have at least three things. That said, its function in the sentence given here is analogous and I still think it is correct to state both versions of the sentence are correct. Some references suggest usage of an Oxford comma is a stylistic choice. I would argue in this case the usage of the comma is a stylistic choice. As explained at this link, it affects the way the sentence is read as I explained: grammarly.com/blog/… – youcantryreachingme Dec 11 '18 at 3:03
  • Thanks for taking the time to respond! Good point! However, I feel like the comma used before the word 'and' in my sentence is not an oxford but a joining comma. I read about the four types of comma here: sussex.ac.uk/informatics/punctuation/comma/summary – Karl Dec 11 '18 at 3:41
  • That being the case, you have the answer to your own question! The University of Sussex style guide makes clear how they employ this comma and your usage meets their guideline. That said, your alternative without the comma is also correct - so my response is the same: both are correct. To take the style guide to to task, it says "A joining comma must be followed by one of the connecting words and, or, but, yet or while". I beg to argue otherwise: "The report was due last week, although they accept late submissions". I would consider this comma optional, valid, and in contravention of the guide – youcantryreachingme Dec 11 '18 at 5:05
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We have a pair of sentences joined by the conjunction here.

My name is Karl.

and

I'll be helping you today.

Just to make that fact explicit, we may end the first with a comma.

(My name is Karl), (and) (I'll be helping you today.)

We could also separate the two with a semi-colon:

(My name is Karl); (I'll be helping you today.)

Although

(My name is Karl) and (I'll be helping you today.)

is grammatical and generally works well, as noted early above, it does not clearly set out the constituent sentences (independent clauses), which sometimes may lead to ambiguity.

  • 1
    Thanks for the thorough explanation, Kris! I've been telling my students to use a comma before 'and' whenever they introduce themselves in their emails. I just raised this question because some of my colleagues don't seem to get my point to use a comma to separate the two independent clauses. Appreciate your response! :) – Karl Dec 11 '18 at 3:48

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