1. victo
    Offline

    victo Active Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2010
    Messages:
    103
    Likes Received:
    2

    Good without the commas?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by victo, Feb 9, 2015.

    The year and the state in the examples below are essential information; hence I do not believe that they should be followed by commas despite the guidance of many style guides.

    I believe the two examples below are okay with no comma after "California" and no comma after "2015".

    (1) The Sacramento, California teen was arrested on a charge of petit larceny.

    (2) The February 15, 2015 meeting has been canceled.

    (3) November 30, 1966 is my date of birth.
    (I say we would leave out the comma after
    "1966" as shown above.)

    Okay to the three examples above exactly as punctuated?
     
  2. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,352
    Likes Received:
    2,896
    Location:
    Boston
    Commas are definitely needed here. It's just a rule you have to follow.
     
    victo likes this.
  3. victo
    Offline

    victo Active Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2010
    Messages:
    103
    Likes Received:
    2
    Why, though, when these elements ("California", "2015" and "1966") are undoubtedly essential information?
     
  4. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,997
    Likes Received:
    5,506
    I'm confused. Are you saying that the commas already in the examples are needed, or that more commas are needed? I don't see any error in the examples as presented. Adding commas after California, 2015, and 1966 would be, IMO, not only unnecessary but incorrect.
     
    victo likes this.
  5. Shadowfax
    Offline

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,529
    Likes Received:
    1,356
    No, a comma is needed after California, 2015 and 1966. In each case they form a sub-clause that is not essential for the sentence to make sense. The information is NOT essential. If you're reading about a teen from Sacramento being arrested for petty larceny, you're probably reading it in the Sacramento Bee, so you're probably not going to assume that the kid came from Sacramento, New York State (if there is such a place!). When I google Sacramento, it comes up with "Sacramento (/ˌsækrəˈmɛnt/) is the capital city of the U.S. state of California..." so it's even less essential than with other place-names that are scattered throughout the US and need the state to identify which one you mean, but even then, the "it's the local paper, so we all know which Albrighton we mean" rule still applies. Equally with the dates. The year is only a qualifier, and in the case of a meeting in a week's time it's irrelevant...would you really cancel it over a year before?
     
    victo likes this.
  6. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,352
    Likes Received:
    2,896
    Location:
    Boston
    Yes, commas are definitely needed. The rule about essential/non-essential elements doesn't apply here because California and 2015 are treated as parenthetical elements in your examples. There are only a few exceptions to this rule. No comma is needed if the city is possessive ("He is Portland, Oregon's mayor.") or if you're using a hyphen ("Portland, Oregon-based store"). For dates, no comma is needed if you're only using only the month and year or only the day and month. Additionally, no comma is needed if you write dates like this: 9 February 2015. For more info on this topic, consult The Elements of Style by Strunk and White.
     
    victo likes this.
  7. Shadowfax
    Offline

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,529
    Likes Received:
    1,356
    I would read this to mean that both of the following apply:

    1/ His name is Portland
    2/ He is the mayor of Oregon.
     
    victo likes this.
  8. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,352
    Likes Received:
    2,896
    Location:
    Boston
    There's no such thing as a mayor of a state, so that wouldn't be a problem here.
     
    victo likes this.
  9. Shadowfax
    Offline

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,529
    Likes Received:
    1,356
    If I didn't know that (and I'm not certain about US practice), and I further didn't know that there isn't a town of Oregon (but when I google the town of Oregon, I find that it's in Wisconsin), I'd follow the logic of the language.
     
  10. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,352
    Likes Received:
    2,896
    Location:
    Boston
    If anything is ever unclear, the writer has to make it clear either by rephrasing the sentence or through context. However, I don't find the sentence to be unclear. We can agree to disagree.
     
    victo likes this.
  11. victo
    Offline

    victo Active Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2010
    Messages:
    103
    Likes Received:
    2
    Can we write:

    The 14 September 2012 issue of Newsweek was a best-seller.

    Does the date require commas in that construction? Is that construction doable?
     
  12. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,997
    Likes Received:
    5,506
    Hmm. I'm now more open to learning that maybe I'm wrong on this. The commas don't seem needed, but then again I pretty much never use constructions like the examples, so...hmm.

    I'll read up.
     
  13. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,123
    Likes Received:
    5,323
    Location:
    California, US
    I like it without the commas. If I was writing non-fiction and found that the rule required them, I'd include them. If I was writing fiction I'd leave them out and rules be damned.
     
  14. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,352
    Likes Received:
    2,896
    Location:
    Boston
    The way you have it is correct. No commas are necessary.
     
  15. KenA
    Offline

    KenA Member

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2015
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Lynnwood, WA
    (1) The Sacramento, California teen was arrested on a charge of petit larceny.

    If, two or more people are discussing a larceny, where more than one person was involved in the theft, I would not use the comma between the city and state.

    If this were the part of a new paper article it would need the comma between them, and a comma after California
    .

    (2) The February 15, 2015 meeting has been canceled.
    This sounds like something written in a memo, and needs commas between both the day and year, as well as after the year; though it's highly unlikely, in this case, the year "2015" would be taken as the number of the meeting."

    (3) November 30, 1966 is my date of birth
    If someone is responding to the question; when is your birthday? My response would have been "November 30th 1966.
    (I say we would leave out the comma after
    "1966" as shown above.)
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2015
  16. Johnny_Westerner
    Offline

    Johnny_Westerner New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2015
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    England
    I've seen it done with and without the second comma. It all depends on whether you regard that final term as parenthetic. In

    The Sacramento, California teen was arrested on a charge of petit larceny.

    you could argue that 'California' is non-essential information which further qualifies 'Sacramento', i.e., that it's parenthetic (just like this) and therefore needs to be delineated with paired commas; on the other hand, you can treat California as essential to the location being specified without which it's incomplete.

    The sentence is correct either with or without the second comma, there's merely a nuance of meaning between the two forms. The same goes for the date examples.

    Interestingly, British novelist Jilly Cooper might omit all commas from your examples. And that's cool with me. The only criterion is that what you've written is clear and all the rest is really just a matter of style.
     
  17. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,997
    Likes Received:
    5,506
    I'm befuddled about the essential and non-essential argument. To me, "Sacramento, California" is essentially an adjective, and an adjective doesn't need a comma before its noun. For example, you wouldn't need a comma with

    The California teen...
    The tall teen...
    The unemployed teen...
     
  18. Johnny_Westerner
    Offline

    Johnny_Westerner New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2015
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    England
    You're absolutely right, but if you're going to qualify Sacramento by showing it belongs to California then you treat (Sacramento, California) as a single term qualifying 'teen'. In this case the single comma merely indicates rhythm.
     
  19. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,352
    Likes Received:
    2,896
    Location:
    Boston
    I've come across a few places that recommend dropping the last comma if the phrase functions as an adjective (including a law grammar guide), but they never cite any reputable sources. It's basically stated without proof. Like victo stated in the original post, style guides recommend putting in that last comma, so that's the route I would always take.
     
  20. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,997
    Likes Received:
    5,506
    But...but....

    OK. I'd say:

    The tall teen ran down the street.

    rather than

    The, tall, teen ran down the street.

    And I assume that no one would write the ", tall," version. If that assumption is wrong, stop me here.

    And I'd also say

    The California teen ran down the street.

    and

    The Sacramento teen ran down the street.

    "Sacramento, California" is a place name. So why wouldn't I say:

    The Sacramento, California teen ran down the street.

    ?

    Edited to add: I can see the argument for the comma if there were multiple separate adjectives separated by a comma:

    The tall, frantic, sweaty, teen ran down the street.

    But we're talking about one adjective, or adjectival phrase, or whatever, that happens to contain a comma.
     
    Okon likes this.
  21. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,352
    Likes Received:
    2,896
    Location:
    Boston
    Like I mentioned in a previous post, states, countries, dates, etc. are considered parenthetical elements in this case. So using adjectives or essential/non-essential elements as analogies doesn't work here. It's just a rule that's in style guides and should be followed IMO, especially when writing nonfiction.
     

Share This Page