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Commas always trip me up. I feel that I use them far too often, and I most likely do. Can anyone set my mind at ease in regards to the following sentence:

Neutrogena is a family-oriented brand producing a large array of health and beauty products, such as acne wash, hair treatments, and sunscreen.

The comma in question is the one between "products" and "such." I feel like it can go either way, but I would like a second, third, or even fourth opinion.

Thanks a ton.

marked as duplicate by tchrist Aug 3 at 16:42

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The Chicago Manual of Style, sixteenth edition (2010), offers the following guidance for dealing with punctuation before "such as":

6.27 Commas with "such as" and "including." The principles delineated in 6.26 ("Commas with restrictive and nonrestrictive phrases") apply lo to phrases introduced by such as or including. Phrases introduced by these terms are set off by commas when they are used nonrestrictively (as in the first two examples below) but not when they are used restrictively (as in the last example).

[First example:] The entire band, including the matutinal lead singer, overslept the noon rehearsal.

[Second example:] Some words, such as matutinal and onomatopoetic, are best avoided in everyday speech.

but

[Third example:] Words such as matutinal and onomatopoetic are best avoided in everyday speech.

In the second example above, matutinal and onomatopoetic appear as illustrations of the types of words that are best avoided in everyday speech. Without the phrase "such as matutinal and onomatopoetic," the sentence becomes more abstract but no less accurate:

Some words are best avoided in everyday speech.

But in the third example above, the phrase "such as matutinal and onomatopoetic" is essential to the fundamental sense of the statement. Take it away, and you get this:

Words are best avoided in everyday speech.

—which is nonsensical.

If we take away the comparable phrase "such as acne wash, hair treatments, and sunscreen" from your original sentence:

Neutrogena is a family-oriented brand producing a large array of health and beauty products, such as acne wash, hair treatments, and sunscreen.

—we are left with this sentence:

Neutrogena is a family-oriented brand producing a large array of health and beauty products.

This is clearly a meaningful and logically valid statement. It follows that the phrase "such as acne wash, hair treatments, and sunscreen" is not essential to the fundamental sense of the sentence but rather supplements it by identifying examples of the types of products mentioned earlier in the sentence. The phrase is thus nonrestrictive, and Chicago would endorse preceding it with a comma.

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The comma in question represents a natural pause when saying the sentence.

If you removed the pause it would sound wrong. Likewise, if you omitted the comma it wouldn't read well.

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