Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Three sentences that illustrate why the Oxford comma is needed

For some arguments pro and con regarding using the Oxford (or serial) comma, click here.

If you simply don’t care one way or the other, move along.


  1. I think you are referring to the semi colon. (;)
    I just thought they joined writing that was a bit different but sort of of going with what I was thinking, I know I am a Muppet.

  2. Adrian, I was NOT referring to what you call the "semi colon" at all.

    Wikipedia states the following about the semicolon:

    The semicolon or semi-colon (;)is a punctuation mark that separates major sentence elements. A semicolon can be used between two closely related independent clauses, provided they are not already joined by a coordinating conjunction. Semicolons can also be used in place of commas to separate items in a list, particularly when the elements of that list contain commas.

    Wikipedia states the following about the Oxford comma:

    In English punctuation, a serial comma or series comma (also called Oxford comma) is a comma placed immediately before the coordinating conjunction (usually and, or, or nor) in a series of three or more terms. For example, a list of three countries might be punctuated either as "France, Italy, and Spain" (with the serial comma), or as "France, Italy and Spain" (without the serial comma).

    It further states that opinions among writers and editors differ on whether or not to use the serial comma. In American English, a majority of style guides mandate use of the serial comma, including APA style, The Chicago Manual of Style, The MLA Style Manual, Strunk and White's Elements of Style, and the U.S. Government Printing Office Style Manual. In contrast, the Associated Press Stylebook and the Stylebook published by The Canadian Press for journalistic writing advise against it. It is used less often in British English, but some British style guides require it, including The Oxford Style Manual. According to The Oxford Companion to the English Language, "Commas are used to separate items in a list or sequence ... Usage varies as to the inclusion of a comma before and in the last item ... This practice is controversial and is known as the serial comma or Oxford comma, because it is part of the house style of Oxford University Press." Some use it only where necessary to avoid ambiguity, in contrast to such guides as Garner's Modern American Usage, which advocate its routine use to avoid ambiguity.

    What makes you a Muppet?

  3. "What makes you a Muppet?" - someone has a hand up his bum.

    *runs away very, very fast*.

  4. My pedant self is in favour. Too often commas are used like seasoning, sprinkled carelessly with no thought about where they fall.

  5. Any discussion about punctuation brings out the teacher in me. My feeling is, that if you think it clarifies meaning, use it!

  6. Now, see there, even atheists can be hypocrites. On the one hand, Ayn Rand said she was an atheist, but then what does she do but go out an have conjugal relations with God?