Series in a nonessential clause

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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."

1 answer


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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:

 

Janetthe captain of the volleyball, soccer and basketball teamsruns 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

Just as a curiosity, would you prefer "who's" or "who is" in this sentence? I find "who's" to just generally sound weird. Thanks!

TopknotJul 29 '13 at 22:16

I like "who's." "Who is" sounds overly formal to me.

Actually HollyJul 30 '13 at 13:30

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