17
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Should take an array such as ['dog', 'cat', 'bird', 'monkey'] and return 'dog, cat, bird and monkey'.

Looking for a more elegant solution.

def self.english_join(array)
  return nil if array.nil?
  return array[0] if array.length == 1
  return array[0..-2].join(', ') + " and " + array[-1] if array.length > 1
end
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3 Answers 3

29
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Rails (actually ActiveSupport, part of the Rails framework) offers a very nice Array#to_sentence method.

If you are using Rails or ActiveSupport, you can call

['dog', 'cat', 'bird', 'monkey'].to_sentence
# => "dog, cat, bird, and monkey"

The method is automatically customized according to I18n settings. For example, in Italy you should omit the last comma before the and.

['dog', 'cat', 'bird', 'monkey'].to_sentence
# => "dog, cat, bird e monkey"

If you want something without depending on ActiveSupport, you can start using the method source code.

This is just an example

class Array
  def to_sentence
    default_words_connector     = ", "
    default_two_words_connector = " and "
    default_last_word_connector = ", and "

    case length
      when 0
        ""
      when 1
        self[0].to_s.dup
      when 2
        "#{self[0]}#{options[:two_words_connector]}#{self[1]}"
      else
        "#{self[0...-1].join(options[:words_connector])}#{options[:last_word_connector]}#{self[-1]}"
    end
  end
end
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3
  • \$\begingroup\$ .to_sentence is literally magic. \$\endgroup\$
    – drusepth
    Jul 9, 2014 at 15:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ You've forgotten to add a options parameter to the method. \$\endgroup\$
    – m26a
    May 2, 2019 at 23:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is how I discovered .to_sentence and oh my goodness, this made my whole day. \$\endgroup\$ May 9, 2021 at 22:52
5
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def english_join(array = nil)
  return array.to_s if array.nil? or array.length <= 1
  array[0..-2].join(", ") + " and " + array[-1]
end

A similar but different approach. Combines the joining of a slice of the array with a string append to get the last "and" part.

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2
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ However, it might be better to write the last line as "#{array[0..-2].join(", ")} and #{array.last}". "#{}" creates fewer String objects than +, and so should generally be preferred. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 9, 2011 at 16:13
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Also, this doesn't get the comma before the "and". \$\endgroup\$ Nov 9, 2011 at 16:14
2
\$\begingroup\$
def self.english_join(array = nil)
  return array.to_s if array.nil? or array.length <= 1
  array[-1] = "and #{array[-1]}"
  array.join(', ')
end

A different way but not much better. Returns an empty string instead of nil if the array is empty. Someone will chime in with a sweet to_sentence method.

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