The Case of the Creeping Ampersand

If you read a lot you notice punctuation.  Punctuation helps the reader understand what the writer is saying.  Language – both verbal and written – is always in flux and rules of writing exist to help to makes things clear.  Imagine how hard it would be read a novel that has no commas no periods and no quotation marks around what a character says we would get frustrated annoyed and stop reading

I get frustrated when I see frequent grammar and punctuation errors routinely committed.  And one that I find annoying now-a-days is the endless use of the ampersand, that is, the symbol “&” in place of the conjunction “and”.  In recent times the ampersand was used mainly in the name of a company such as McKinsey & Co.   Wikipedia states that another one of its uses is to show that two words go together in a list of other words such as, “She loves jazz, soul, rhythm & blues and rap music.”

I see “&” creeping into writing and used interchangeably with “and,” and wish writers would think more carefully about using it.  What’s particularly incorrect is using both for the same phrase in the same document such as “Department of English and Comparative Literature” and “Department of English & Comparative Literature”.  Pick one and be consistent… and I prefer “and” for text and “&” for corporate bodies.

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