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comma

Posted: Fri Oct 09, 2020 3:12 am
by azz
a. I bought twenty books and notebooks.

Could that mean
b. I bought twenty books and some notebooks.
?

And would a comma before 'and' make it clear that it was twenty books and some notebooks?

c. I bought twenty books, and notebooks.

Many thanks.

Re: comma

Posted: Fri Oct 09, 2020 4:12 am
by Erik_Kowal
The best way of expressing the distinction you are seeking to make is to include "also some" to clarify that you are referring to a second distinct category that should not be confused with the first:

I bought twenty books, and also some notebooks.

That renders the comma optional. (Personally, I would include it anyway because it marks where there would be a natural pause in speech.)

Re: comma

Posted: Fri Oct 09, 2020 12:35 pm
by Phil White
If you intend the sentence to have the meaning you indicate in b, the phrasing you use in b would seem to be ideal to me.

If you intend to say that you bought 20 items, some of which were books and some notebooks (which sounds to me to be a rather peculiar thing to want to say), I think you would say something like "I bought some books and notebooks; (about) twenty in all."