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Malaysia is famous for its pleasant beach resorts, Langkawi, Pangkor, Tioman Island, Damai beach in Sarawak, and, again, Penang.

I am totally confused about the usage of "comma" in this sentence.

Does it mean Langkawi Island, Pangkor Island, Tioman Island?
Does the comma after "beach resort mean to add "the examples of beach resorts"?

2

The comma after beach resorts is used to introduce a list of resorts.

It could also be described as signaling a natural pause, or as setting apart nonrestrictive or nonessential information.

http://www.thepunctuationguide.com/comma.html#settingoffnonrestrictiveinformation

A colon (:) could instead be used for this purpose (introducing a list).

http://www.thepunctuationguide.com/colon.html

We can't know whether Langkawi is meant as a short name for Langkawi Island unless we have more context or familiarity with Malaysia.

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your confusion may be caused by the fact that the placement of comma after

its pleasant beach resorts

is wrong.

It should have been a colon (:), a semicolon (;) or even a dash (-) but the comma here throws the sentence off. The colon is the best possible choice to introduce a list like this.

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Series of three or more items joined by commas should be set off by commas.I suggest to you to refer to THE OXFORD ADVANCED LEARNER'S DICTIONARY.

-2

One of the functions of the comma is to separate words and word groups in a simple series of three or more items, therefore the commas after 'Langkawi', 'Pangkor', 'Tioman Island', and 'Damai beach in Sarawak' are correct. The words mean exactly as they are read - they are the placenames 'Langkawi', 'Pangkor', 'Tioman Island', and 'Damai beach' (which is in Sarawak) respectively.

The comma that comes after 'and' is incorrect, as there shouldn't be a pause at this point of the sentence.

The comma after 'beach resorts' is also incorrect as our list of items hasn't begun yet. As we introducing a series of items, a colon (:) should be used. For example:

  • One needs the following items to bake a cake: butter, sugar, and flour.

Effectively a colon can be interpreted as 'that is to say' or 'here's what I mean.

Therefore the correct punctuation for that sentence (in my opinion) should be:

Malaysia is famous for its pleasant beach resorts: Langkawi, Pangkor, Tioman Island, Damai beach in Sarawak, and again, Penang.

There's a nice outline of the different types of punctuation here, which may be useful.

  • 1
    There is no authoritative basis for deeming the comma after and "incorrect". If the writer intends a pause there, which would be perfectly natural, the comma achieves this. We may find the sentence overpunctuated, but that is a matter of taste and style, not of "correctness". The same is true of the comma after "resorts": A colon is a conventional choice to introduce a list, but a comma can also achieve this and may be preferred when a softer break is desired. There remain, again, issues of taste and preference. – Jim Reynolds Nov 25 '16 at 2:11
  • @JimReynolds I'm happy to concede that the comma after 'and' can be attributed to personal choice, and that 'incorrect' was probably a poor choice of word on my part. It does seem to be, to use your phrase, overpunctuated though. However, I think that comma usage vs. colon usage to denote the beginning of a list comes down to much more than a personal preference - it has a distinct effect on the meaning of the sentence. Consider the examples below.... – mike Nov 25 '16 at 7:28
  • (apologies for formatting) "Malaysia is famous for its pleasant beach resorts, Langkawi, Pangkor, Tioman Island, Damai Beach in Sarawak, and, again, Penang." To me this means "Things Malaysia is famous for:" * pleasant beach resorts * Langkawi * Pangkor * Tioman Island * Damai Beach * Penang "Malaysia is famous for its pleasant beach resorts: Langkawi, Pangkor, Tioman Island, Damai Beach in Sarawak, and, again, Penang." To me this means "Beach resorts that Malaysia is famous for:" * Langkawi * Pangkor * Tioman Island * Damai Beach * Penang – mike Nov 25 '16 at 7:30

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