What comes after the series?


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Thread: What comes after the series?

  1. #1

    What comes after the series?

    I'm embarrassed that I don't know this, but I've looked in every source I can think of and just can't find it. I frequently find sentences like this one:

    The study consisted of observing teachers, assistants, and students, and developing recommendations for improving classroom management.

    No, this is not a discussion about the serial comma. I use them. The question is should there be a comma after "students"? What follows is not an independent clause, so technically there should not be one. But I almost always see sentences like this written with the extra comma. I realize the easiest thing to do would be to recast the sentence, but I often don't have the luxury of reworking the wording.

    So comma or no comma, and why?

  2. #2
    Of course it's an independent clause. The first part of the sentence reveals a study which consists of observing teachers, assistants, and students. The second part reveals plans for improving classroom management. They may be related but they're still independent of each other.

    Without a comma after 'students', it reads as though the study is observing everything, classroom recommendations included.
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  3. #3
    Forget about the assistants and students for now. What makes up the study? You wouldn't say "The study consisted of teachers and recommendations," right? The study won't list recommendations; rather it's concerned with the development of recommendations. So you'll need the word "of." So here's how you should word it:

    The study consisted of observing teachers, assistants, and students and of developing recommendations for improving classroom management.

    I'd probably put it this way:

    The study consisted of the observation of teachers, assistants, and students and the development of recommendations for improving classroom management. (It's smoother this way and I can get along without the "of.")
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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by patskywriter View Post
    Forget about the assistants and students for now. What makes up the study? You wouldn't say "The study consisted of teachers and recommendations," right? The study won't list recommendations; rather it's concerned with the development of recommendations. So you'll need the word "of." So here's how you should word it:

    The study consisted of observing teachers, assistants, and students and of developing recommendations for improving classroom management.

    I'd probably put it this way:

    The study consisted of the observation of teachers, assistants, and students and the development of recommendations for improving classroom management. (This way I can get away with leaving "of" out.)
    You still need a comma after 'students', otherwise it reads as though the study consists of observing teachers, assistants, students and the development of recommendations for improving classroom management.
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    "One morning I shot an elephant in my pyjamas. How he got into my pyjamas I'll never know." ~ Groucho Marx.

    "It is better to be feared than loved, if one cannot be both". ~ Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince.

    "A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer". ~ Bruce Lee.

    "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's mind there are few". ~ Shunryu Suzuki.

    "Give a man a mask and he will show you his true face". ~ Oscar Wilde.

    "He who learns but does not think is lost; he who thinks but does not learn is in great danger". ~ Confucius.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Sam W View Post
    Of course it's an independent clause.
    Since when is "developing recommendations for improving classroom management" an independent clause? It doesn't make a sentence on its own, so it can't be independent.

    I would say leave out the comma. It's clear to the reader that the second part isn't an element of the list (otherwise you would have "observing developing recommendations," which, while it could be interpreted to be proper English, clearly isn't the intended meaning). All that's left is checking whether the clause can stand on its own, and it can't. No comma is needed.
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  6. #6
    The problem with the sentence is not the comma after "students", but the "and' before it. If the purpose of the study is four-fold -- to observe teachers, assistants, students, and to develop recommendations -- then the recommendation development is part of the series.

    Commas exist to create clarity. As the original example is written, the comma is needed for clarity even if its existence can't be justified by a specific rule. There is, of course, the rule of comma usage which allows for commas to separate 'additional information'. It could be justified using that rule, if justification is actually needed.
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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by BaltimoreEd View Post
    The study consisted of observing teachers, assistants, and students and developing recommendations for improving classroom management.
    This seems correct to me. The second 'and' reads the same as 'as well as'.

    But I am not a comma expert, and they are frequently abused / neglected in my home.
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  8. #8
    "The study consisted of observing teachers, assistants, and students, and then developing recomendations for improving classroom management."

    First this, this, and that, and then this happened (based on the others)
    It's a time line, right? They didn't all happen at the same time.
    They were observations made, and then actions taken.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by BaltimoreEd View Post
    I frequently find sentences like this one:

    The study consisted of observing teachers, assistants, and students, and developing recommendations for improving classroom management.

    ... So comma or no comma, and why?
    When I learned grammar, they made you diagram sentences. Sometimes it made things obvious when nothing else would.

    What we have here is a subject, a verb, and a prepositional phrase with two objects, both of which happen to be gerunds. Here's a sentence with the same basic structure: "The meal came with wine and cheese." You wouldn't even think of putting a comma after wine.

    The original sentence is more complicated, but the same principle should apply. The two ands will tell the reader that one list has ended and another has started.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Sam W View Post
    Of course it's an independent clause. The first part of the sentence reveals a study which consists of observing teachers, assistants, and students. The second part reveals plans for improving classroom management. They may be related but they're still independent of each other.
    hnnnnnnnngh *blood spurts out nose*

    An independent clause is a clause of a sentence that can exist without the rest of the sentence. A dependent clause is reliant on the rest of the sentence to make sense, grammatically.

    For instance, take the sentence "An independent clause is a clause of a sentence that can exist without the rest of the sentence." It's a really stupid sentence and hard to understand but bear with me.
    There are two clauses to this sentence. 1) "An independent clause is a clause of a sentence." 2) "That can exist without the rest of the sentence."
    In this case, "An independent clause is a clause of a sentence." ...makes grammatical sense on its own. It is an independent clause.
    However, "That can exist without the rest of the sentence." ...is not grammatically correct as a sentence on its own. It is a dependent clause.

    A'ight?

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