Writing for Business - A Whatis.com Blog

Oct 2 2009   2:02PM GMT

Commas to set off occupations?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
Bookmarklets are just one of the Web-related interests of ____________ Steve Kangas.
a. the mathematician,
b. the mathematician


Answer: b

Explanation:
You should only use a comma to set off an occupation if it uniquely describes the person following. If we said “the chief of Rocket Science at bookmarklets.com, Steve Kangas” we would need the comma — unless, at some point, they have a co-chief in that department, in which case we would revisit our sentence. However, because Kangas is not the only mathematician on the planet, we don’t need a comma in our sentence above.

Here are some more examples:

  • the current pope, Benedict XVI
  • the author Margaret Atwood (there are other authors)
  • right-wing pundit Ann Coulter (there are other right-wing pundits)
  • the president of the United States, Barack Obama

Incorrect use of commas is just one of the interesting discussions in Lex’s On Second Thought blog.

Follow us on Twitter @tao_of_grammar

 Comment on this Post

 
There was an error processing your information. Please try again later.
Thanks. We'll let you know when a new response is added.
Send me notifications when other members comment.

REGISTER or login:

Forgot Password?
By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Forgot Password

No problem! Submit your e-mail address below. We'll send you an e-mail containing your password.

Your password has been sent to: