Grammar Stickler

It’s time to play Spot the Comma Splice! From today’s articles on the Bozeman Daily Chronicle Web site:

As of Saturday afternoon prices for gas varied around Bozeman with the Loaf & Jug on Eighth Avenue and College Street, at $4.19 per gallon, the Loaf & Jug at 19th Avenue and Main Street at $4.15 and the Exxon on North Seventh Avenue near Interstate 90 at $4.14.

This selection should not have a comma after the words “College Street.” There’s no grammatical reason for it. There probably should be a comma after “As of Saturday afternoon” since it modifies the entire sentence. Next from an article in today’s edition of the paper:

Forrest said she hopes the block party will become an annual affair, and that other Bozeman neighborhoods will work to become more cohesive.

The comma after “annual affair” is unneeded. It’s joining two relative clauses, not two independent sentences. From a news brief in the paper:

MSU’s College of Agriculture presents the award to an individual or couple who is, or has been, involved in production or agribusiness agriculture, and has exhibited outstanding leadership in Montana agriculture.

This one’s a bit tricky. The commas around “or has been” are perfectly fine, but no comma is needed after “agribusiness agriculture” since the conjunction is joining a compound predicate within a relative clause (the one beginning with “who”), not two independent clauses. And finally from another article in the paper:

The biggest contracts are recommended to go to Central Plumbing & Heating for a $4 million ventilation and heating system; Liberty Electric for a $2.3 million electrical system; and Dick Anderson Construction for $1.4 million for framing and sheetrock, and $975,000 in concrete work.

This one’s pretty basic, but seems complicated because of the complex list with semicolons. In the last part of the sentence, there should be no comma after “sheetrock” (which should be capitalized as a proper noun, by the way). The conjunction is joining a compound object of the preposition, not independent clauses.

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