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If all you add is the final comma -- "If I have some balloons, a red, a blue, and white, I have three -- the meaning does comes across but the construction's a tad awkward. But adding just that one little "a" -- "If I have some balloons, a red, a blue and a white, I have three" -- that extra comma is superfluous.


Nope, the comma is necessary. ‘If I have some balloons, a red, a blue and a white,” I still have two balloons: one of them a blue and a white. The comma is not superfluous because it divides ‘blue’ and ‘white’ into singulars. While it could be argued the ‘a’ defines singularity, adding the comma nails division.

Or this:

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew)
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.

Kipling solved the comma problem by not having one. It’s a group picture.

But when it comes to this.....What bugs me is comma placement with ‘and’. Too many put the comma ahead of it....... Total agreement. It's a real peeve of mine!

Mine also but, segueing into another pet peeve: newspaper writers who think their sterling prose (why am I reminded of Bullwer-Litton?) starting off a story supersedes Kipling’s serving-men.

“The village of Little Scrap, incorporated in 1898 and home to the famous Hinton Cheese Factory to which hundred of tourists come each year to taste the company’s exalted Brie is a bucolic oasis where church socials and strawberry festivals are attended by families across the district intent on holding dear the age-old ceremonies to which the town richly deserves its motto ‘We care’; so it was a shock when 18 town residents were machine-gunned to death recently.”

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