1) The islands lie along the Florida Straits, dividing the Atlantic Ocean to the east from the Gulf of Mexico to the northwest, and defining one edge of Florida Bay.

"The islands" are the Florida Keys.


Source:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Florida_Keys

2) 1) The islands lie along the Florida Straits, dividing the Atlantic Ocean, to the east, from the Gulf of Mexico, to the northwest, and defining one edge of Florida Bay.


Sentence '1' is from the Wikipedia article on the Florida Keys. Sentence '2' is my version. I have added three commas. Are both versions acceptable?


Gratefully,
Navi

Original Post

Hi, Navi,

Your version is technically (i.e. grammatically) more correct than the one in Wikipedia. However, I think the omission of commas in this particular case is more common because the phrases in question (to the east and to the northwest) are reminiscent of similar phrases used to describe boundaries, in which case using the comma would be wrong:

- The islands are bounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and by the Gulf of Mexico to the northwest.

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