When Commas Work in Pairs


A reminder: sometimes commas work in pairs. When you drop the second one, you end up with bad punctuation logic:

The city of Pasadena, California has a playhouse and many museums.

Here we're separating Pasadena from California, but we're not separating California from the verb "has." The result is a sentence that says California has these things while that bit about the Pasadena has no logical attachment to the sentence. The idea is that commas can set off what's called parenthetical information. When you're talking about a city, the state it's in is parenthetical to the city name.

You can see the same logic at work with terms like "Inc." as well as years after dates.

Widgets, Inc., is based in Toronto.

On April 4, 2017, we attended a concert.

Without the second comma, you'd be giving the wrong impression about the relationship between Inc. and the words that follow or between 2017 and the words that follow. So keep an eye out for this one. It's a very common mistake.

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