Your reckless abuse of the Oxford comma is furthering the demise of the English language

Oxford comma-nistas around the world are having a heyday over a recent push alert sent by Sky News, which they believe is the end-all, be-all argument in favor of their precious punctuation mark.

Comma

Now, let’s be clear: The Oxford comma is necessary in this “sentence” as it’s written. Obviously, there are some pretty serious implications without it. However, this whole “sentence,” if you can even call it that, could be rewritten for clarity, and we would not have been subjected to all this nonsense in the first place. The Oxford comma-nistas would never suggest that though!

See, the purpose of a comma when used in a list is to replace the word “and.” When you use an Oxford comma in a list of three or more items, it’s redundant. You’re essentially writing “and and.” And that’s just silly.

Let me spell it out for you using another famed Oxford comma-nista example: Instead of saying “We invited the strippers and JFK and Stalin,” you substitute “and” with commas. “We invited the strippers, JFK, and Stalin.”

See how I used the Oxford comma there? Because it’s necessary for clarity. Without it, one could infer the writer is saying JFK and Stalin are strippers. Better yet, you could just rewrite the sentence to read “We invited JFK, the strippers and Stalin.” Because what kind of red-blooded American puts strippers before JFK, anyway?

(JFK. JFK may have put strippers before himself.)

I’m certainly not for an outright ban of the Oxford comma. I just ask that people tasked with the glorious responsibility of writing sentences pause to think about whether it’s necessary instead of blindly inserting it. Because if you can’t make that distinction, do you really have any business writing sentences in the first place? Especially those involving world leaders and strippers.

I mean, have you been on the Internet lately? Couldn’t we all benefit from everyone taking a moment to consider whether their sentences could be written more clearly?

And Oxford comma-nistas, let me ask you: With the current state of the English language, do you really want more people paying less attention to appropriate punctuation use? Do you want society to inflict upon your precious comma the same fate that has befallen the poor semi-colon? Just scattering it throughout sentences from time to time, showing no courtesy for its intended use? Do you really have so little respect for a punctuation mark you claim to love? HAVE YOU NO SENSE OF DECENCY?!

If you continue your misguided crusade, before you know it all the written word will consist of is emoticons and Oxford commas:

SmileConfused, Loser, and Dizzy. LOL!

So, knowing what the future holds, do you still want to continue on your quest? Let’s take a quick poll:

<br>

If your answer is still yes, fine. But just know you’ll be on the wrong side of history.

Advertisements

213 responses to this post.

  1. Reblogged this on Promoting Your Personal Brand and commented:
    Another skirmish in the grammar wars.

    Reply

  2. Seriously? You can’t think of a better reason to get your panties in a bunch? There are far nobler causes for panty bunching. Texting, vining, and twittering leap to mind. (What’s the past tense on that, anyway? I twitter, I twatted, I have twatted, they will have twatted–?)

    Commas are the bomb, especially the dark chocolate covered ones. I pop them like vitamins. Have some on me, I buy them in bulk at Trader Joe’s. ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    Reply

    • I use the Oxford comma exactly the way I was taught in school. What really irritates the piss out of me is the continued abuse of the homonym. Saying 2+2=7 would get you laughed off the internet, but apparently it is acceptable ignorance to ROUTINELY mix up “there,” “they’re,” and “their.” (This goes as well for “your and “you’re.”) Also, see my use of the comma? LOL

      Reply

      • What about “to,” “two,” and “too”? Or “by,” buy,” and “bye”?

        I tend to use the Oxford comma, although I generally refer to it as the “serial comma,” because I believe it minimizes confusion or misinterpretation.

        I don’t see why anyone would call using the Oxford comma “abuse” or something that leads to the demise of the English language. It’s not like putting that little comma before the “and” in a serial list of three or more items costs you anything. And it’s not like the use of the Oxford comma and what this post’s author believes to be appropriate punctuation are mutually exclusive.

      • The only comma abuse is comma splicing! lol

      • OK, yeah, the there/their/they’re thing irritates the snot out of me.

        But it’s very handy for determining with remarkable accuracy the general age of the typist because the last couple generations seem to have successfully sloughed off the need for accuracy and erudition in favor of idiocy and celebrity. But I repeat myself.

      • I’m 32 years old…and I routinely see my aunts/uncles and other ppl I generally respect murder the shit out of some homonyms! I have to admit, it kinda of makes the go down a tiny bit in my esteem (I’m sure they’d be crushed to know it! lol)

      • Posted by ncarring on December 31, 2013 at 4:26 am

        … and then you use txtspk in the middle of a post about grammar …

      • To further my point … Thanks for reading!

      • Text speak and grammar are two separate issues. It’s not as if I don’t know how to spell “people,” and I’m going to guess most people realize that. It’s a shorthand for my typing.

      • Well, this post is actually about punctuation anyway …

      • Haha! Touche’.

      • Posted by ncarring on December 31, 2013 at 9:01 am

        You wrote a lucid post in which only one word was shortened in this way, so it stuck out like a sore thumb, and immediately affected my attitude towards the post as a whole (and my perception of you). You either care about writing properly, or you don’t. My impression is that you don’t, really.

      • Thanks for your input!

      • Good thing your impression is not really that important to me. If you really cared about how I wrote, you’d read my blog. If not… I doooooon’t caaaare. How’s that?

      • Posted by ncarring on December 31, 2013 at 9:38 am

        Would I understand your blog, or is it written in txtspk? 😛

      • LOL… It is not. I’m just lazy in the comments section.

      • We can all agree on homonym abuse being a major issue. Thanks for reading!

      • Amen to that! Mixing up your and you’re drives me crazy too!

      • Oh, don’t even get me started on that!

      • …”there,” “they’re,” and “their.”
        No, just no. Feel free to consider your own comma placement.

      • Like I said, just as I was taught. When listing successive items or things, one comma after each item, and before the conjunction. Feel free to bite me.

      • By all means, the comma should exist, but their placement inside the quotes is a crime.

      • Posted by Juan on May 6, 2015 at 12:05 pm

        Grammar is the difference between: “You know your s**t” and ” You know your’re s**T”!

      • Too be shore (see what I did there? 🙂 ) BTW, the second one is spelled “you’re.” 😉 I also saw a funny one that was something like:
        Punctuation: the different between
        “I’m eating out, Gramma,”
        and “I’m eating out Gramma.” (Awful, aint it? lol) Thank you for taking time to read and comment!

    • Oh, don’t worry … I have plenty of other things about which to get my panties in a bunch. Thanks for reading!

      Reply

  3. Reblogged this on faheem_chuhdary@yahoo.com and commented:
    Hello

    Reply

  4. Posted by grammar2shoes on December 19, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    Awesome post! “Do you really have any business writing sentences in the first place?” That made me laugh.

    This reminds me of an English teacher I had at high school who insisted it’s always wrong to put a comma before ‘and’. Even then I could see how her thesis could lead to absurd results, depending on the context. How I wish I’d had the “Strippers, JFK and Stalin” example handy back then!

    Reply

  5. Hi Allison, (now you have me scrambling to see if I need a semicolon, or comma lol). Thank you for your article. You entertained and taught without being pushy. I was beginning to wonder if writing quality had anything to do with getting Pressed, because the editors seem fixated on annoying articles designed to irritate without being well written. Thank you, Silent

    Reply

  6. Personally, I prefer sentences without the oxford comma (unless it’s necessary for clarity, of course.) It stilts the whole rhythm of the sentence. Some people prefer it, and that’s fine, as long as they don’t try to push their beliefs on me 😉

    Reply

  7. The English teachers at my school have been in a feud with one of the biology teachers over the use of the Oxford comma. It’s made for quite an awkward work situation. Thanks for reminding the world that grammar is for clarity, not for blanket rules that exist to make one feel superior, dammit.

    Reply

  8. I agree, or agree to disagree, or I don’t know what I am talking about!

    Reply

  9. Reblogged this on tymsizzle and commented:
    Anyone ever read Eats, Shoots and Leaves? This is the cause that I stand for! I am with Lynne Truss on this one. She’s my home-girl.

    Reply

  10. So what you’re trying to say here is that I need to work on my grammar and punctuation and grab another beer after that?

    Reply

  11. Does that make one a comma nist?

    Reply

  12. Oh, and, I, am one of the worst, of all, time. ty

    Reply

  13. It’s a shame that we don’t seem to learn much about grammar in school past the elementary years. I very vaguely remember learning about the Oxford comma in 3rd or 4th grade, but after that it didn’t seem to matter to my teachers. I had no idea what it even was until reading this post.

    Reply

  14. I’ve never heard the term “Oxford comma” before, or even “serial comma.” But I understand the general principal, and have always put a good deal of thought into whether or not I should use one in a sentence – always, it comes down to whether a sentence requires one; if not absolutely necessary, then it shouldn’t be used!

    I thought I was strict on grammar, but it is amusing (and faith-restoring) to find someone more keenly devoted to keeping the rules of grammar than I 🙂

    Reply

    • Posted by ncarring on December 31, 2013 at 9:07 am

      Principals are the people who run schools. Hopefully, they are people of sound principles, who understand the principle that education is their primary goal, and instil those principles in their subordinates and pupils.

      Reply

  15. I have some history of throwing fits over language use
    (See http://kitchenmudge.wordpress.com/tag/language/),
    and I’m sorry, I love the Oxford comma. “Unnecessary”
    does not mean there’s any reason to avoid its beauty.

    Reply

  16. Posted by didcotonline on December 20, 2013 at 1:16 am

    Reblogged this on DidcotOnline.

    Reply

  17. Reblogged this on When we get to where we're going and commented:
    “Oxford Comma” is the safe word. That’s because the Oxford comma is a big no-no. This post is a healthy reminder to double check your commas. Simple journo grammar, but I screw it up too.
    Also this was genuinely funny.

    Reply

  18. I thought that the new way of writing the English language is in the same way we write txt msgs. In which grammar isn’t an issue. (Note- no commas)

    Reply

  19. I don’t know about all the particulars of the Oxford/serial comma. I’m bothered more by improper punctuation, generally, like the use of a comma when a full stop (period) would be much more clear. I think instruction in diction would probably help with that, so that people write sentences more consistently with the way they speak. Some people tell me they ramble (so do I!), but I sincerely doubt the cadence of their speech would suggest run-on sentences or odd length of pauses.

    Reply

    • Posted by Amy on December 20, 2013 at 7:46 am

      I teach writing at a local community college, and I tell my students to read their work out loud. It helps them find major construction errors, but it also helps them figure out where you MIGHT need a comma or a period. Full stop–period. Slight pause–comma. It’s hardly foolproof, but some of these kids just throw punctuation marks at the page and see what sticks.

      Reply

  20. At my last job, where I was required to write to customers in response to the drivel they rote (sorry – wrote) to us, I was frequently lambasted by the word police for using proper English (Sigh). Our trainer, had completed a plain English course, and had it instituted throughout the organisation.(I’ll spare them the embarrassment)

    The rot set in with the trendy teaching brought about in the 70’s. Thankfully, I largely escaped it, though as a six year old, being taught to spell propally (sorry – properly) and put Kommas in (D’oh – commas in, ) and use “where, were and wear” et-al, was just part of getting the basics right.

    Sadly, the lefties, were (and still are largely) in charge of education.

    Reply

  21. And having re-read it, I notice a few errors “krept” in of my own… D’oh!

    Missing spaces – two after a full-stop, and missing commas, all lead me to mark my piece at 8 out of 10…

    MUST do better… (Sigh)

    Reply

  22. I am a complete failure when it comes to punctuation, but at least I am honest. I would tremble at the thought of you reading my blog posts!

    Reply

  23. Reblogged this on marykay and commented:
    Hey everybody!!! Hope everyone is having a great day!!! Anyone need cheap fun fast easy last minute Christmas ideas for only $10-15????

    Reply

  24. Posted by darknesslites on December 20, 2013 at 5:15 am

    I delight in being on the wrong side of history. All the best people hang out there.

    Reply

  25. Great humour. I do worry whether this is an issue for our American brothers – in the UK most of us wouldn’t dream of using a comma before an and. As an Ex-English teacher with a First Class Honours degree in the British system, I’d never even heard of the phrase “Oxford Comma” until I started to regularly see complaints from Americans on the internet. I guess it’s true what they say that we are two countries separated by the same language.
    Loved your piece 🙂

    Reply

  26. Posted by Lorraine on December 20, 2013 at 6:12 am

    You DO have issues lady, but that is what makes you who you are.. being a little quirky is not a bad thing. I do use the “Oxford comma” correctly for the most part because I hate using the word ‘and’ so many times in the same sentence and I’m an avid shortcutter in all aspects of my life, I’m also an avid “typoist” ie (Someone who creates typos a lot). See I made up new word.. I think.. Gee I never knew that comma had a name… : ) What are the OTHER commas called? : )

    Reply

  27. Posted by Lorraine on December 20, 2013 at 6:13 am

    Reblogged this on Present Moment Accepted and commented:
    The Oxford Comma.. who knew? LOL

    Reply

  28. Posted by Lorraine on December 20, 2013 at 6:16 am

    I’m following your blog now.. I like squirrels.. I saved the life of a squirrel once and he hopped up on the lid of a trash can sitting by the curb next to my car and thanked me a few weeks later.. I mean he LOOKED right at me as I sat in the drivers seat.. it was a profound moment to me.

    Reply

  29. Another squirrel lover, my totem animal, has to follow your blog. Without commas, we wouldn’t be able to read the inflections properly. It would be hard, but not impossible, to make a ‘voice’.

    Reply

  30. #GrammarFAIL ☺️

    Reply

  31. And here I thought it was called the serial comma. 🙂 Just learned something, thanks!

    Reply

  32. Great post, Allison! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed, my friend! After reading this, I had Vampire Weekend’s song “Oxford Comma” stuck in my head 🙂 As a poet, I tend to overuse the comma, but that’s only because I hate the finality of the period
    Cheers,
    Tyler

    Reply

  33. Great post! I had to reflect on my own comma usage, and it does not look so good. Can I be forgiven? lol 🙂

    Reply

  34. I find most commas to be rather cheeky little devils — they always look like they’re sticking out their tongues at me. But maybe that’s just the Oxford commas; they don’t take kindly to misuse! 😉

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed. Enjoy the ride.

    Reply

  35. Love this post! The only issue i’d say you have is supporting a quirky cause which is no crime. An excellent choice was made by Wordepress to freshly press this.
    Devastating The Obvious

    Reply

  36. Is it a sign of immaturity that my first reaction to this post was an intense desire for a “love” button? Or is my exuberance just a sign of good taste?

    Reply

  37. Posted by ceruleanstarshine on December 20, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    In my first drafts I throw commas in like confetti at a party. In revisions, I am ruthless because my Business Writing teacher impressed upon me how awful overdoing the comma is.

    Loved the post!

    Reply

  38. This was a very fun and funny post! Thanks for including the poll at the end. 🙂

    Reply

  39. I placed my h, in the s, and saw a fish l,
    The beach was quiet

    Then a b, played gently

    I f, my face with a broad brimmed hat
    Lifesavers m, the waves

    A poem p,

    Good point made. Thanks for the tip.

    Reply

  40. If the Oxford comma dies out everywhere else, it will survive in legal writing. The reason is obvious if you think about it – good legal writing is all about precision.

    Say you wrote a will in which you left your land “in equal parts to A, B and C.” You might think the meaning here is obvious – A, B, C each receive a third of the land. However, A’s lawyer might argue that the lack of a comma between B and C indicates that B and C’s claim are lumped together – therefore A receives one equal share (50%) and B and C receive another (25% between the two of them.) Using the Oxford comma here makes it impossible for A’s lawyer to push this argument.

    I still don’t use the Oxford comma if it’s not absolutely necessary to the meaning, though. It breaks the flow of the sentence, I think. Not a fan.

    Reply

  41. Reblogged this on An Ashbourne Voice and commented:
    And educated a little along the way

    Reply

  42. AllThoughtswork/ your comment is very funny.

    Reply

  43. Posted by Digby on December 21, 2013 at 7:47 am

    Alas thou hast confused one with such a peculiar concern for our ever changing, nay we can say dramatic, language. Shakespeare was a language iconoclast, much berated for it as one recalls. Comprehension is the ultimate goal. Clinging to rules which do not work at all times is rather in the vein of that scamp Emerson (what were the youth coming to?) in his oft quoted “hobgoblin” comment.

    Reply

  44. Posted by Miranda Stone on December 21, 2013 at 10:01 am

    I certainly respect your decision not to use the Oxford comma (however much it pains me to see it omitted.) But to call my unwavering usage of the Oxford comma abuse? That’s carrying it a bit too far, don’t you think? It’s not abuse at all. It’s merely employing proper grammar. I do hope you will soon resolve your hostility toward this very beneficial bit of punctuation. 🙂

    Reply

  45. Posted by Miranda Stone on December 21, 2013 at 10:04 am

    And darn it, I was so flustered by this attack on the Oxford comma, I put the period of that first sentence inside the end parentheses instead of outside of it, where it actually belongs. I regret the error.

    Reply

  46. The reason for the controversy is that there is no correct set of rules. Punctuation varies between users and always has done. Even the ‘authoritative’ manuals outlining the rules were made up by somebody who appointed themselves an authority.

    (SImilarly, Samuel Johnson appointed himself an authority on spelling. If Samuel Johnson had lived in the North East then spelling would be very different).

    These things are not based on logic but chance and somebody’s personal preference. This is why the authoritative sources are different. Difference is a good thing; we should be proud of our individuality. If you have a particular punctuation style of which you are fond then bully for you.But don’t accuse people of ‘misusing’ language because they follow a different set of rules. Otherwise language would never change or evolve and that would be sad.
    .

    Reply

  47. I agree, but I think it’s better when people use too many commas rather than too few. If we can’t have perfection, we have a choice between two evils, yeah? :/

    Reply

  48. Great read and guilty as charged!

    Reply

  49. I love the Oxford Comma. Hard to read without it. Great post though.

    Reply

  50. I am also a lover of the Oxford comma, also known as the serial comma. And I think you either use them throughout the piece or you don’t. You would probably consider me an Oxford comma abuser and an em dash abuser, but I love that you wrote about BOTH of them.

    You know what also makes me crazy? Misuse of the apostrophe. Such as “the 1970’s.”

    Reply

  51. You talk about commas, i lament about mis-spelt words used to fit into Twitter, SMSes, FB and the likes (hope the commas have been used correctly). You = u; And, n; Like, lyk;and so on…..
    How I hate the continuous rape of English language in today’s digital world!!

    Reply

  52. Well I couldn’t read the full post because Kaspersky said it had violent content :/

    Reply

  53. I don’t bother with Oxford commas because I put my faith in the fact that the people of the internet have common sense. (Bold move, I know) If a sentence could be taken a different way, go ahead and make fun of it but in your heart you already know what I’m trying to say so there’s no point in me adding that one little oxford comma.

    Reply

  54. Adding a serial comma in a list may be redundant, but there’s nothing wrong with it. Now leaving it out, can have unintended implications. Now to rephrase, if you always use it, you’re never wrong. If you never use it, you’re sometimes wrong.

    Reply

  55. If you never use it (except when not using it would cause a misreading), you’re following Associated Press style. If you always use it, you’re following the Chicago Manual of Style. I don’t know what MLA, APA, and the other style manuals do, because I haven’t worked with them.

    It’s not about right or wrong. What matters is consistency. One style has to be used throughout a publication.

    I’m a chronic illness blogger, but I used to be a curmudgeonly copy editor.

    Reply

    • I am a copy editor-turned-digital-editor who still lives and breathes AP style. It doesn’t always make sense, but it does more often than most of the styles, I’ve found. Thanks for reading!

      Reply

  56. Oh boy you are going to Hate me…I have invented my own form of punctuation recently…things that are Important to me like Love, they get capital letters. I use these ~~ because they look nice. And sentences start with And because it’s more like “talking” to the readers > . <

    Reply

  57. When my teacher handed back my most recent essay, I was irritated to find that he had given me a ‘B’ solely based on my lack of Oxford commas. He made no other edits. He seems to believe that serial commas are mandatory. :/

    Reply

  58. Wow, what a dreadfully prescriptivist argument – “furthering the demise of the language”, don’t make me laugh! People like you who would insist on meaningless rules like “don’t use the Oxford comma” are the ones really damaging the language.

    Reply

  59. Commas in general are tremendously misused in writing. This was still an interesting piece to read!

    Reply

  60. Let me spell it out for you using another famed Oxford comma-nista example: Instead of saying “We invited the strippers and JFK and Stalin,” you substitute “and” with commas. “We invited the strippers, JFK, and Stalin.”
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    You do realize that you totally botched your “example”, don’t you? The *correct* incorrect sentence should be, “We invited the strippers, JFK and Stalin.” The Oxford, or serial, comma is ALWAYS necessary. And no, it’s doesn’t replace the word “and”. Even the above example that I cited shows that you don’t practice what you preach!

    I suggest you read “The Glamour of Grammar” by Roy Peter Clark.

    Reply

  61. Posted by the13alchemist on December 26, 2013 at 7:56 am

    Reblogged this on the 13 Alchemist and commented:
    awesome

    Reply

  62. This is actually amazing! I have had so many arguments with people about this and they think I am nuts. They do not see the importance of using correct grammar. I know that sometimes people make errors but most of them don’t even know where to use one and it drives me insane. However, the two errors that frustrate me the most are when people do not use capital letters for names or when they can’t figure out which is the right ‘there’. it makes me want to smash their face into old text books i used in primary school haha 😉
    I enjoyed the humour in this piece and it really is something I can relate to. Great write 🙂 ❤

    Reply

  63. Reblogged this on Truth Through Words and commented:
    I agree so much haha

    Reply

  64. I write for a university and my editor insists we use “serial” commas as a rule or I get thwapped for every error. So the need to use the serial comma has crept into my fiction writing as well. So much so that I cannot bear to see a list without a serial comma. However, personally, I feel the English language is an evolving one. It’s okay or not to use the serial comma based on the author’s preference. And if the serial comma enables people to use punctuation and make their writing clearer in an environment (read Internet) where most writing is garbled and barely readable, then I would say, why not?

    Reply

  65. Reblogged this on sedation.

    Reply

  66. Posted by Ashley on December 27, 2013 at 10:28 am

    Two short thoughts are more powerful than a single long one. Always have been. Always will be. The period is your best friend. The comma is the friend who smiles to your face, but sleeps with your boyfriend.

    Reply

  67. Posted by Doug Ales on December 27, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    Their arr too, phunny, comments.

    Reply

  68. I read a grammar book as a teenager (because I was cool like that) called, “Eats, Shoots, and Leaves”. The cover showed a picture of a panda holding a restaurant at gunpoint as he exited. It was titled after an encyclopedia entry that described the diet of a panda as “eats, shoots, and leaves”. An Encyclopedia!

    Reply

  69. My dream in life is to be one of those people, that know exactly how to use commas.

    Reply

  70. I want to learn how to be a better writer. Can you please give me some more good examples of the use of the oxford coma. I didn’t even know that was the proper term. I see hanging out of the internet has made me a lazy writer. I am ready to reform my ways. Help! 🙂

    Reply

  71. The oxford comma comes before the coordinating conjunction (and, or, but, yet, so, for, nor). We ate cake, cheese, and fruit. The Oxford comma is also called the serial comma.

    Reply

  72. Who doesn’t love a good, round, comma, with it’s cute, little hook?

    Reply

  73. Vampire Weekend should definitely change their lyrics…

    Reply

  74. Reblogged this on Vidahlia Press & Publishing House and commented:
    Punctuation Drama

    Reply

  75. I’m constantly researching proper grammar and punctuation usage so as to not offend the Language Police and come off as a complete literary imbecile. Good to know this matters to others just as much if not more.

    Reply

  76. I almost clicked “Lady, you have some issues” in the Poll, but I do try not pot/kettle whenever possible.

    Thanks for this.

    Reply

  77. Posted by gustyadek on December 30, 2013 at 4:30 am

    Reblogged this on gustyadek.

    Reply

  78. The comma, quite possibly, the most life saving punctuation mark, of all. (Please note the improper use of the comma to assist in making your point.)

    Reply

  79. Posted by thisoldtoad2014 on December 30, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    who me? do you mean i? you couldn’t be talking at me?

    Reply

  80. Then there are those who OVERUSE the comma. My boss drives me NUTS with his run on sentences. He uses a comma to separate ideas, but will have one sentence full of commas that is half a page long.

    Though people do need to realize the importance of punctuation and sentence structure.

    (Note my comment is probably an English teachers nightmare. 🙂 )

    Reply

  81. […] and the privilege of living in Big Sky Country. My obsession passion for punctuation led to my most popular post ever (with an assist from the WordPress editors. Thanks, […]

    Reply

  82. We need that final comma. I will defend it with my life. I am a punctuation purist. Laugh at me all you want. I know my em-dash from my en-dash, and I’m not afraid to use them.

    Reply

  83. Reblogged this on Nutshell.

    Reply

  84. Don’t think generalising the use of Oxford Comma as good or bad, black or white, etc is necessary. Here’s my thinking when I use an Oxford Comma.

    It’s generally when listing multiple things, possibly in pairs or groups, along with singular nouns or items, etc.

    Eg. Black and blue, red and yellow, orange, and white.

    Black and blue are in a pair and in the context, they’re being used as a singular object. Same for red and yellow. In that case you would need something to clarify that orange and white don’t come together in this instance and are separate.

    Having said that though, as a broadcast journalist, I have to cite a number of single and multiple items together where the repeated use of ‘commas’ or ‘and’ is robotic and monotonous when they’re read out like that.

    It’s one thing for the printed word where the information needs to be there and clarified as accurately as possible but doesn’t need to be in as spontaneous voice as someone telling you the information.

    It’s another thing when the same information has been imparted verbally where saying ‘and’ a gazillion times can make you seem (and rightly so) a tad brain dead.

    I tend to substitute the ‘and’ with phrases like ‘as well as’ or ‘along with’. Even a ‘plus’ every now and again.

    That’s just for writing things which need to be delivered verbally.

    Talking about words where the final output in the print format, or least one where it has to be read instead of listened to, is there something wrong with using an Oxford Comma to clarify a piece of information just another step further?

    Just as a security blanket or an extra layer, just in case someone confuses two points to be related when they are simply being listed one after another.

    One final example. We all presumably know about Laurel and Hardy. if we’re talking about those two and a bloke called John, we could first write it as

    John, and Laurel and Hardy. [This implies John along with the pair]

    Laurel and Hardy, and John [This implies the pair with John]

    Both implications however originate from the assumption that we all know Laurel and Hardy are a single subject, instead of individual characters from different story lines.

    Firstly, the knowledge may not be as widely held as we think and secondly, when we substitute Laurel and Hardy for less well known and/or popular points of conversation, or facts, or subjects, etc (whatever you want to call them) there’s no predicting if someone understand only half the facts contained in the sentence due to either their lack of knowledge or other reasons.

    Depends on the priority as well. In our line of work, the priority is to try and make sure the facts and ideas are grasped as accurately as possible, and by as many as possible.

    I’ve just an Oxford Comma in that last sentence as well. Not to clarify a point but just to separate it. Writing’s been evolving a bit over the years to incorporate a slightly more conversational element as well.

    Of course I won’t support too much of that mind, to the tone of using cryptic language in texts and so on. But a tiny element of it for clarification doesn’t bother me much, despite being a bit of a grammar Nazi myself.

    P.S. After that final statement, if there happen to be any grammatical errors, excuse them. My colleague is waiting for me to go and get a coffee so I don’t have time to proof-read. Probably shouldn’t be lazy but what the hell, it’s New Year’s Day.

    Reply

    • I certainly appreciate that you take the time to think about it. I’m a digital editor for a local newspaper, so my line of thinking is also influenced by journalism and the need to make sentences as clear and concise as possible. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!

      Reply

  85. Posted by mordee on January 1, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    what, me?

    Reply

  86. This was good – I mean, really good!

    Reply

  87. Reblogged this on drucatic.

    Reply

  88. I found your post funny and educational, so for me it was a win-win. Great stuff! I will be scrutinizing my commas from now on — loved the JFK example. As much as it bothers me when others publish poorly written material, I can’t imagine how many mishaps I have tossed out into the World Wide Web. We live, we learn. Thanks for the comma lesson!

    Reply

  89. Reblogged this on my kingdom for a word. and commented:
    Oxford Comma Woes. While I am a serial comma splicer, at least I make the effort to proofread. It’s almost as though people who deem it necessary to write via internet need some form of screening.

    Reply

  90. Reblogged this on Indiefilmlaw's Blog and commented:
    Great post on the need for the Oxford comma. Amazing how such a small thing makes such a big difference.

    Reply

  91. Posted by Anon. on January 5, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    I’m afraid I do use the Oxford comma the way my professors taught me, but I find sentences perfectly readable with or without it. Honestly, if a comma is the only thing I don’t agree with in a sentence, it’s probably a perfectly acceptable sentence.

    Reply

  92. The Oxford comma has come up 3 times in my life this month, I had never even heard of it until then. So weird. Maybe I just wasn’t aware I was aware….? Is it a meme or something? It’s everywhere.

    Reply

    • Yeah, it’s getting a lot of play on social media. It’s also called the serial or Harvard comma, but Oxford seems to stick the best. Probably because of that damn Vampire Weekend song. Thanks for reading!

      Reply

  93. Posted by michellerene00 on January 6, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    Reblogged this on Michelle Rene Goodhew's Blog.

    Reply

  94. […] Reckless abuse of the Oxford comma […]

    Reply

  95. Reblogged this on Sylvia's Life and Style and commented:
    I admit I’m a wreckless user of the Oxford comma. Probably because I don’t want it to go away, I feel it’s necessary for clarity of any sentence to replace the excessive “and”, and I was taught to use it. (Ha! I snuck that one in.) I don’t always use it for fear of the anti-Oxford comma people and avoid the argument. This is a classic example of when you need to use it so why get rid of it?

    Reply

  96. I think it’s appropriate for some cases, and others, not so much. When I’m listing more than three items, I’m likely to use it for clarity. The sentence in the article would benefit from it, as well.

    Reply

  97. This is everything.

    Reply

  98. […] Well, the results are in! Shockingly, the majority of you think I have some issues regarding my passionate tirade against Oxford comma abuse: […]

    Reply

  99. Lol, I was going to vote that one too. I was told to be consistent if you’re going to use them. But I agree with those that say use when it’s necessary. 🙂 (Okay now paranoid I used incorrect commas, spellings, etc. in my short comment).

    Reply

  100. As a few have mentioned before, the problem with today’s English has nothing to do with the Oxford comma. The problem is in the lack of punctuation altogether.

    do you know how many times i see sentences or paragraphs like these without any capitalization or punctuation run on sentences and im not even sure what its actually supposed to be saying

    Remind me again how the Oxford comma has anything to do with… whatever the above is.

    Reply

  101. […] and die, and then who would be around to take Pancake’s selfies for her or defend against the rise of the Oxford comma-nistas or remind you when it’s Squirrel Appreciation […]

    Reply

  102. The function of the comma becomes especially apparent the era of communication in 140 characters or less. Twitter!!

    Reply

  103. Posted by Johnd822 on May 15, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    I have not checked in here for a while since I thought it was getting boring, but the last few posts are good quality so I guess I’ll add you back to my daily bloglist. You deserve it my friend bdadaddgbegd

    Reply

  104. Hello, always i used to check webpage posts here early in the dawn, since i enjoy to find out
    more and more.

    Reply

  105. Hello there, just became alert to your blog through Google, and found that it
    is really informative. I’m going to watch out for brussels.
    I’ll be grateful if you continue this in future.
    Lots of people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

    Reply

  106. Amen to ALL of this!
    Also, I’m dying a little as the rhetoric here has certainly been something to write home about! …Write-ON!
    …you see what I did there, yes?
    –I kid.
    LOL!
    😉

    Reply

  107. What a stuff of un-ambiguity ɑnd preserveness ߋf valuable familiarity ϲoncerning unexpected feelings.

    Reply

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: