Friday, February 13, 2009

Who gives a f**k about an Oxford Comma?

(name that band!)

There are several English majors reading this blog. They probably cringe at all my grammatical faux pas that I didn't have drilled into my head over and over for 4+ years after high school and have therefore forgotten. I challenge anyone who actually deigns to correct and/or mock such mistakes to balance a balance sheet or prepare a tax return for a publicly-traded international corporation. Yeah, that's what I thought.

Now, however, I'm actually asking your grammatical advice about the Oxford Comma. When I was originally taught the rules, I was told to put in a comma before the conjunction and last item in a list (e.g., 'Sally loves dogs, cats, and bunnies' rather than 'Sally loves dogs, cats and bunnies). When I worked for a newspaper, however, AP Style says "no way, get that comma outta there" (or something grammatically correct).

Let's take a poll - who's for it and who's against it? No crap about how both ways are technically correct, I want to hear what you actually do when you write.

Yeah, I just wrote a whole blog entry about a comma. That's right.


  1. Personally, I use the Oxford comma. I can't remember if this is how I was taught or if I just prefer it stylistically. Like most, whenever I have a choice between two perfectly acceptable choices, I pick the one I like best; grammar is no exception.

    Plus, I think the Oxford comma can clear up ambiguity in a sentence. Lynne Truss, author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves has this to say:

    "I allude to punctuation marks as the traffic signals of language; 'they tell us to slow down, notice this, take a detour, and stop'. And, well, I argued for that Oxford comma. It seemed to me that without the comma after 'detour', this was a list of three instructions (the last a double one), not four."

    So, I like the Oxford comma!

  2. I just have to point out that I accidentally deleted the comma after the book title when I was putting in italics. Figured I better cover my comma bases for a post all about 'em!

  3. I agree with Meg, I like the Oxford Comma. But it's not such a big thing if people don't use it - it seems like just a personal stylistic choice.

  4. I'm glad you guys agree with me. I had stopped using it because of working at the Wildcat and I'm officially bringing it back! I miss it and I think it just sounds wrong! There is a pause there and it's missing.

  5. I actually wasn't taught the Oxford comma...and since we tend to like what we know, I prefer not using it. However, my biggest preference is for people to either use it or not use it consistently.

  6. I also prefer to use it. I agree with author Lynne Truss that without it, two items appear to belong together instead of being two separate items.


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