Doing a lot of editing these days and coming across “and” followed or preceded by a comma . . . also a lot. <LOL> As such, it prompted me to revisit using this lovely little punctuation mark with “and”.
Given this post is grammar oriented (yes, I sense those eyes glazing over already), let’s take a quick gander at “and”. A conjunction is a word often used to connect words, phrases, and clauses/sentences or to coordinate words in the same clause. But it can also be used to add (three and five equals seven, er, eight) or demonstrate a result (Read the manual thoroughly, and you’ll be able to build that generator, no prob). “And” can also serve as a noun (I told you to do that—no ifs, ands, or buts).
Let’s see. Ah yes. A coordinating conjunction can also refer to: in addition to (men and women); as a consequence (Gerald raced after the malevolent monster and tumbled off the cliff), and; subsequently or then (Joan texted Rodney her plans and drove over to his place). You can check the internet for more in-depth details if you’re so inclined. <wink, wink>
Be watchful of how you use commas after “and”. Use it as a linking device:
♦ Larry had a mug of coffee and tuna sandwich. ♦ She wrote a book about an angel and a saint.
But if you’re linking more than two phrases, put “and” in front of the last one.
♦ Larry had coffee, a tuna sandwich, and a chocolate-almond tart for lunch. ♦ She wrote a book about an angel, demon, and deity.
When linking adjectives, the comma is optional. Many people like to put a comma before “and” in a list.
♦ They felt weary, sweaty, and dirty. / They felt weary, sweaty and dirty. ♦ Henry the hamster is cute, well behaved, and energetic. / Henry the hamster is cute, well behaved and energetic.
Be wary of using a comma before “and” when there are only two actions/details.
♦ Correct: Martha and Jake like to jog and stretch. ♦ Incorrect: Marth and Jake like to jog, and stretch.
Here are two independent clauses; as such, add the comma before “and”. An independent clause, by the by, is a sentence that could stand on its own. But you already knew that.
♦ In May they’ll visit Japan, and in June they’ll travel to Australia.
Don’t use a comma before “and” when an independent clause is connected to a dependent clause (a phrase that can’t stand on its own).
♦ Taylor pulled the roast out of the oven, and watched Lee slice it.
The first clause, an independent one, can stand alone (as a sentence), but the second clause can’t. It’s “dependent” on the first.
♦ Correct: Taylor pulled the roast out of the oven and watched Lee slice it.
Eyes drooping? A yawn pulling at those down-turned lips? Okay, okay. I’ll stop. Just give thought to that comma. It’s a wonderful, practical punctuation mark . . . useful for keeping information clear and enabling ease of reading. However, used in overabundance (like anything), it can prove quite annoying [if not unprofessional].
Decide what your approach/style re the comma is and be consistent.
Here’s to the comma, and not making sentence structure errors. <LOL>