The Oxford Comma

There is a topic which has caused generations of debate. Lines have been drawn. Enemies have been made.

I refer, of course, to the Oxford comma. Should it, or should it not, be a thing?

For those who don’t bask in the depths of English grammar debates, let me explain. The Oxford English Dictionary, a worthy source of knowledge on this subject, defines the Oxford comma as:
a comma immediately preceding the conjunction in a list of items.

“I bought apples, pears, and grapes” employs the Oxford comma while “I bought apples, pears and grapes” does not.

You can see why there are such heated debates about this.

The Oxford comma , so named due to “the preferred use of such a comma to avoid ambiguity in the house style of Oxford University Press,” is also known by the more prosaic name of the “serial comma.”

I have no evidence to verify this, but I believe that what one calls the comma gives insight into a person’s position on the matter. Those who are pro-comma prefer the more erudite “Oxford comma” while those who are anti-comma prefer the uninspiring “serial comma.”

Why do you need another comma? They ask. You already have so many, you don’t need a serial comma as well!

These people are wrong.

As I may have given away from my own references to the “Oxford comma,” I am firmly in the pro-Oxford comma camp.

It is clear that a comma is better there.

Not only because there’s no end to the silly and clever memes you can create mocking the absence of an Oxford comma, but because – more proudly – a sentence just feels more complete, more balanced, and more aesthetic with the comma there. It just feels right.

But, of course, this is what makes language so wonderful. Language is alive, and that life can be seen in all the little debates and inconsistencies of our grammar.

It’s like cheering for your favorite sports team: we can fight about it, mock each other, and talk all sorts of trash, but at the end of the day we can still be friends.

…Wait, we can still be friends, right?


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