Daily Debate: The Oxford Comma

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  1. profile image0
    KayteeLynneposted 6 months ago

    "There are people who embrace the Oxford comma, and people who don't, and I'll just say this: never get between these people when drink has been taken." - Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves

    The Oxford Comma. Love it? Hate it? Or, maybe you're asking 'what in the name of Aldo Manuzio is the Oxford Comma?"

    The Oxford comma has been attributed to Horace Hart, who was a printer and controller of the Oxford University Press in the late 1800's to the early 1900's. He wrote "Hart's Rules for Compositors and Readers" as a style guide for the employees working at the press.

    In English language punctuation, an Oxford Comma, also known as a Serial Comma or a Series Comma, is a comma placed immediately before the coordinating conjunction (usually and or or) in a series of three or more terms.

    My personal favorite examples of the Oxford Comma in use: "We invited the strippers, JFK, and Stalin."

    Without the Oxford Comma, the above sentence reads as follows: "We invited the strippers, JFK and Stalin."

    In this instance, it suggests that the strippers invited were JFK and Stalin, where as in the first example, they are listed as three separate items, suggesting that they are different individuals.

    While the Oxford Comma can clear up some ambiguities such as this, it isn't necessarily... necessary in every sentence where lists like this may come up.

    Usage also differs somewhat between regional varieties of English. My understanding is that British English does not make use of this comma. However, it is common and even mandatory in American English, where a majority of American style guides mandate use of the Oxford Comma, such as APA style, the Chicago Manual of Style, and the MLA Style.

    So, what are your thoughts on the Oxford Comma? Are you for it, or against it? And why or why not?

    1. promisem profile image97
      promisemposted 6 months agoin reply to this

      Journalists usually remove the final comma simply because it serves no purpose if the word "and" is present. A final comma and "and" are redundant.

      AP style, meaning Associated Press journalism style, emphasizes concise writing for fast reading and maximizing the use of existing print space.

      I think that's much more logical than APA style and others that require the comma. Likewise, I don't see why we have to use the American Psychological Association (APA) style here on HP. The majority of articles here are journalistic for a general audience rather than scientific for social scientists.

      1. Readmikenow profile image96
        Readmikenowposted 6 months agoin reply to this

        You are absolutely correct.  (I bet you thought you'd never see me write that to you.)

        I would add that many times grammar programs will have point out places where an Oxford comma should be placed. 

        Here is an interesting article from the Columbia Journalism Review.  The use of an Oxford comma continues to be a hot topic of debate.  I find that interesting.


        1. promisem profile image97
          promisemposted 6 months agoin reply to this

          The fact that we finally agree on something means there might be hope for us after all. smile

      2. profile image0
        KayteeLynneposted 6 months agoin reply to this

        I would add that this isn't meant to be specific to HubPages, but writing in general. Of course, you make a good point that the type of writing would make a difference, and I agree with you there. Creative Writing and Journalist Writing are very different kinds of writing styles, and naturally the 'rules' may be different to each.

    2. GA Anderson profile image92
      GA Andersonposted 6 months agoin reply to this

      I prefer the Oxford comma style. Not only for the reason you illustrated, but because I think it also helps pace the reader's comprehension of the intended meaning of the series involved with it.



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