Commas with the State and the Year

Margie Wakeman Wells The Comma Leave a Comment

The English rule is that the year is surrounded by commas when it follows the date and that the state is surrounded by commas when it follows the city.

…happened on May 4, 2013, near Tulsa.
…lived in El Paso, Texas, for many years.

The confusion often comes when these combinations are used as adjectives before a noun. The rule that says that there is never a comma between an adjective and the noun it modifies is about putting a single comma there.

It is important to note here — and everywhere — that there is a difference between using ONE comma to separate language elements and using a pair of commas to surround those elements. A pair of commas can be used anywhere. When the element is removed, both commas go with it.

In the instances of the year after the date and the state after the city, it is correct to always surround them with commas.

Just a note on the ZIP code. It forms a unit with whatever it follows and never has commas of its own.

…has lived in Culver City, California 90230, all his life.
…has lived in Culver City 90230 all his life.

Happy punctuating!

Margie

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