I was wondering what people who were knowledgeable in the latest U.S. grammar thought about this?
Well a lot of American things don’t use commas before “and”…
The Scientific American Magazine
I’ve found about them avoid commas about 10 times, but I’ve never seen them use a comma.
I’ve found a couple of examples without the comma, but one with the comma. (Link shows without comma)
Right now the front page has two examples without the comma -
"President Bush Reflects …education, a reduction in taxes and the brownfields bill. "
But clicking on that
(http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/08/20020802-1.html) it says:
“…war on terror, and money…”
The other example on the front whitehouse page:
“President Commends…open markets, expand opportunity and create jobs…”
Clicking on that link:
“… find work, and some farmer is going to be able to sell his product, and some nation…”
Both of those were transcripts… perhaps commas are used to show that the speaker is pausing.
Their West Wing article is more formal though…
It uses a comma before an “and” though:
“…the Roosevelt Room, and the James…”
Microsoft uses commas before “and”… but when it detected that I lived in Australia (for their Help and Support page) it didn’t use the commas any more…
A professor of English at Washington State University says:
“Authorities differ as to whether that final comma before the “and” is required. Follow the style recommended by your teacher, editor, or boss when you have to please them; but if you are on your own, I suggest you use the final comma. It often removes ambiguities.”
The street was filled with angry protestors, shouting spectators and police.
(Leaving out the last comma makes it look like the police were shouting, too.)”
The street was filled with angry protestors, shouting spectators, and police.
(Makes it clearer.)”
So do people think that guy I quoted is right? Note that he was particularly talking about scholarly and formal writing.