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Sandi LeFaucheur
09-28-2006, 02:30 PM
Someone in our Communications Department is mad about commas. He, she, or it scatters them gaily like rose petals at a wedding. Case in point, a poster in the elevator telling employees to fill out a satisfaction survey:
"Complete it online or, grab a pen." I mentioned to a lady in the elevator with me that I'd like to take a bottle of white-out, go around the building, and remove the comma from every poster.

She looked at me haughtily down her nose. "The comma is correct."

"Umm, no, it's not."

"You sometimes see it after 'and', as well," she replied, driving home her point.

"You shouldn't. It's wrong."

She sniffed. "It depends what school of grammar you subscribe to."

I was dying to respond that she obviously subscribes to The School of Rotten Grammar, and that under no circumstances whatsoever does one put a comma after 'or' or 'and', but we got to the parking lot (ours is a small building) and it occurred to me that since I didn't have a clue who this woman was, entering into an argument with her--and possibly painting her from top to toe with white-out--might be a career-limiting move.

Is there ANY "school of grammar" that permits--nay, encourages--commas after 'or'? Am I once again hopelessly old-fashioned?

Jamesaritchie
09-28-2006, 03:22 PM
Someone in our Communications Department is mad about commas. He, she, or it scatters them gaily like rose petals at a wedding. Case in point, a poster in the elevator telling employees to fill out a satisfaction survey:
"Complete it online or, grab a pen." I mentioned to a lady in the elevator with me that I'd like to take a bottle of white-out, go around the building, and remove the comma from every poster.

She looked at me haughtily down her nose. "The comma is correct."

"Umm, no, it's not."

"You sometimes see it after 'and', as well," she replied, driving home her point.

"You shouldn't. It's wrong."

She sniffed. "It depends what school of grammar you subscribe to."

I was dying to respond that she obviously subscribes to The School of Rotten Grammar, and that under no circumstances whatsoever does one put a comma after 'or' or 'and', but we got to the parking lot (ours is a small building) and it occurred to me that since I didn't have a clue who this woman was, entering into an argument with her--and possibly painting her from top to toe with white-out--might be a career-limiting move.

Is there ANY "school of grammar" that permits--nay, encourages--commas after 'or'? Am I once again hopelessly old-fashioned?

In this case, no, there are no schools of grammar that allow a comma after "or." Having said this, commas are the downfall of most people, and not getting them correct is hardly surprising.

CaroGirl
09-28-2006, 04:38 PM
Sandi, you're right in this case. The comma should definitely not be there. I can think of only one case in which you could have a comma after "or" or "and", and that's if it's followed by a subordinate clause. For example:

The teenage girls read Cosmo and, even though they didn't understand it, they pretended they did.

Sandi LeFaucheur
09-29-2006, 02:27 PM
I can think of only one case in which you could have a comma after "or" or "and", and that's if it's followed by a subordinate clause.

I'd forgotten about that. I was thinking more about lists of things. Or like in the following example (obviously written by the same Communications person, because it, too, was on a poster in the elevator: "Do (something or other). And, tell your friends."

Oh, and if anyone's interested--the posters in the elevators are behind locked glass doors. But I did manage to fix an unprotected poster! Very discreetly, I might add. My bottle and I will continue our quest.