My eyes blinked in unbelief as they beheld the domineering statue, the inscription "Power has no limits" on its face and "I came, saw, and conquered" on its feet.

Should there be a comma after face, or not?

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  • 2
    You're asking if you should use a serial comma or not. It depends entirely on what style guide you use. It's generally the case (although by no means always the case) that the serial comma is used in North America but omitted in Europe. In North America alone, The Chicago Manual of Style says to use it, while the Associated Press Stylebook says to omit it. – Jason Bassford Mar 16 at 16:01
  • The passive voice is an interesting choice. Your eyes beheld it, yet you are just there. Astonishment or disbelief might be slightly more evocative. I would use a comma there. – Rasdashan Mar 16 at 16:07
  • 3
    Possible duplicate of Appropriate use of commas – fred2 Mar 17 at 4:47

This is a list. The speaker is seeing (beholding) the statue, in inscription on the face of the stature, and the inscription on the feet of the stature. It is correct either to use or omit a comma before the final list item. Use of such a comma is known as the "serial comma" or the "Oxford comma" and despite the latter name, is more common in North America than it is in the UK.

Almost every guide would advise using it when its omission would leave a sentence unclear. This is most likely to happen when individual list items are complex.

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