Series in a nonessential clause
How does one punctuate a series within a nonessential clause? Is one of the following examples correct, or is there some other way to punctuate this?
"Janet, the captain of the volleyball, soccer, and basketball teams, runs a lot."
"Janet; the captain of the volleyball, soccer, and basketball teams; runs a lot."
"Janet, the captain of the volleyball; soccer; and basketball teams, runs a lot."
What you've got here is a "garden path" sentence—it leads readers down a path that turns out not to be the right one. When I read it, I thought that Janet and the captains of those teams were going to be different people. And then when I hit the word "runs," I had to back up and start again.
The most elegant way to avoid this is to separate your clause with dashes:
Janet—the captain of the volleyball, soccer and basketball teams—runs a lot.
If you prefer commas, you can reword slightly:
Janet, who's the captain of the volleyball, soccer and basketball teams, runs a lot.
Notice that I removed the serial comma (after "soccer"). That's just a personal preference of mine. It's correct either way.
|link||answered Jul 29 '13 at 16:26 Actually Holly Expert|
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