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Example 1

Alice eats pizza, and Bob drinks coffee.

In the above sentence, I believe there should be a comma before "and". But how about the following case?

This is a place where Alice eats pizza, and Bob drinks coffee.

This is a place where Alice eats pizza and Bob drinks coffee.

I feel that the first one is weird because the two parts connected by "and" are not of equal status.

Example 2

Alice eats pizza and drinks coffee.

I believe there should be a comma before "and". But how about the following case?

Alice eats pizza and ice cream and drinks coffee.

Alice eats pizza and ice cream, and drinks coffee.

I feel that the first one is weird because the two "and"s are connecting some pieces that are not of equal status.

1 Answer 1

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The ", and" is appropriate in these sentences when the two clauses each could stand on their own as sentences. It can help to think of ", and" as an alternative to a period "." for when the two clauses are very related.

These are correct:

  • Alice eats pizza and drinks coffee.
  • Alice eats pizza, and she drinks coffee.
  • This is a place where Alice eats pizza and Bob drinks coffee.

In this last sentence above, you are talking about the place. In this place, two things happen: Alice eats pizza, and Bob drinks coffee. If you added a comma, then the "Bob drinks coffee" clause would be separate from the "In this place..." and it would essentially be combining two disjointed thoughts by conjunction.

Finally of these, only the first one is really grammatically correct, but it just sounds awkward because the two ands are joining two different lists (what she eats and what she does):

  • Alice eats pizza and ice cream and drinks coffee.
  • Alice eats pizza and ice cream, and drinks coffee.

You could say:

  • Alice eats pizza and ice cream, and she drinks coffee.

Or just:

  • Alice eats pizza and ice cream. She drinks coffee.

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