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Ah, the comma. I attended grade, junior high and high school during the later 1940's and the 1950's. I was taught that when listing three or more nouns, there was always a comma before the "and." My college English professors found nothing wrong with that. My junior partner attended grade, junior high and high school during the 1960's and the early 1970's. She had the same teachers that I had. They taught her the same thing they had taught me. Her college English professors found that she had been taught incorrectly and that there should never be a comma in front of that "and" (or so she has told me for the last 25 years in our ongoing argument concerning same). My children went to grade, junior high and high school during the later 1970's and the 1980's (same school system, different teachers). They learned it the way my junior partner does it -- no comma in front of the "and." Being a traditionalist, I continue to punctuate as I learned it (except when my Supreme Court insists on the later approach -- I may be traditional, but I "ain't" stupid). I find the style books split on the subject; it seems to be a function of their date of publication.

Another usage that seems to have changed is the use of the comma to set off a date. I was taught that proper usage was "the meeting has been set for one o'clock p. m. on Friday, September 14, 2007, in Room 204 . . . ." I am now informed by my junior partner, my secretaries and my computer that the comma after 2007 is improper. Oh well, I'm retiring shortly and won't have to worry about that anymore. ;-)

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