I have the following sentence:

I am a self-starter possessing excellent problem solving ability and outstanding coordination and communication skills.

Using the Oxford comma, what is the correct way to write it?

I am a self-starter possessing excellent problem solving ability, and outstanding coordination and communication skills.

I am a self-starter possessing excellent problem solving ability and outstanding coordination, and communication skills.

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    I'm voting to close because this is OP's sixth question, all of which seem to be concerned with nothing more than helping him write his job application, phrase by phrase. Mar 6, 2012 at 22:58
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    @FumbleFingers: as long as each question is valid, I don't see a problem with all of them having the same ultimate purpose.
    – Marthaª
    Mar 6, 2012 at 23:01
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    @user576510: As I've said many times before, it's not really my concern whether your questions violate the exact wording of ELU's "site policy". Without wishing to be derogatory to you personally, I do not think the level of questions you ask are of interest to linguists, etymologists, and (serious) English language enthusiasts. If others agree, your questions will be closed. If not - well, I'm just one voice trying to push the site in a direction I would prefer. Mar 6, 2012 at 23:07
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    @FumbleFingers, those questions are all asking about the actual serial comma, i.e. involving an actual list rather than just a pair of items. As such, their answers don't really apply here. (I was trying to edit out the "oxford comma" mentions from the question, but I was afraid of changing the OP's intent too drastically.)
    – Marthaª
    Mar 6, 2012 at 23:42
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    @user576510: In this example your final "and" connects both "coordination" and "communication skills" to the preceding word "outstanding". In the earlier one, the final "and" connects "developing new software" and "doing enhancements in existing ones" to the preceding "4 years experience in .net". There is no difference. Also I notice you have ignored Peter Shor's well-meant advice, and not bothered to edit "once" to "ones" in that earlier question. There is more wrong with your English than ELU can be expected to help with. Mar 7, 2012 at 0:15

1 Answer 1


The serial comma only comes into play if you have an actual list, i.e. three or more items. You only have two:

excellent problem solving ability


outstanding coordination and communications skills

To see this, look at the nouns, not the phrases describing them: ability and skills are two things.

Within the phrase "outstanding coordination and communications skills", it is absolutely wrong to insert a comma before the "and". For the sentence as a whole, though, the issue isn't quite so clear-cut: it's not really a list, so adding a comma is unnecessary, but on the other hand, it can aid comprehension to group the adjectival phrases — basically, to make it clear that excellent problem solving goes with ability, while outstanding coordination and communications all go with skills.

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