The sentence I'm having trouble with is:

Track monetary and material donations and compose gift acknowledgement letters.

I am trying to express that I keep track of both monetary and material donations and also compose gift acknowledgement letters.

Should there be a comma after donations?

  • 4
    You are right, a comma there will be greatly appreciated by the reader: with an and in the first independent clause, there's ample scope for confusion. Grammar does not say that comma is mandatory, though. – Kris Dec 14 '12 at 6:38
  • 1
    How about replacing the second and with as well as? – Em1 Dec 14 '12 at 8:05

It's not strictly necessary, but to me this is a bit clearer:

Track monetary and material donations, and compose gift acknowledgement letters.


The comma isn't needed because you have a second verb: compose. It's clear that you're tracking the monetary and material donations and that you're composing the letters. Wouldn't make sense to be tracking (a) monetary donations, (b) material donations, and (c) composing letters. Composing letters is a separate action not a thing being acted on as are the donations.

Now if you had said, "Track monetary and material donations, and shipments," you would need that comma after donations to make it clear that you were tracking two different types of things: donations and shipments. You just happen to have two types of donations as well, which you want to group together for clarification.


Very often the simplest and easiest way out of this kind of situation is just to order the sentence differently. If you'd said ...

Compose gift acknowledgement letters and track monetary and material donations

... there would have been no need to worry about clarity.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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