1. MissRis
    Offline

    MissRis Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2012
    Messages:
    235
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Canada

    To oxford comma or to not?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by MissRis, Apr 21, 2012.

    This is more out of curiosity, but do you use the oxford comma or not? I know in journalism they typically don't although I think that's because of word/character count. However, I know other people (myself included) that believe the oxford comma provides clarity for the reader. Thoughts?
     
  2. superpsycho
    Offline

    superpsycho Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2012
    Messages:
    638
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    No argument here.
     
  3. funkybassmannick
    Offline

    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2011
    Messages:
    836
    Likes Received:
    30
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Oxford comma: We invited the stripers, JFK, and Stalin.

    Without Oxford comma: We invited the strippers, JFK and Stalin.

    Wait, who were the strippers?
     
  4. MissRis
    Offline

    MissRis Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2012
    Messages:
    235
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Canada
    Like I said, I know why it's used and I always use one. This was more of a punctuation poll because people seem to be divided over the oxford comma.

    Also, the Stalin JFK meme is almost as great as the: "Let's eat, grandma!" vs. "Let's eat grandma!" grammar saves lives.
     
  5. Nakhti
    Offline

    Nakhti Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2012
    Messages:
    400
    Likes Received:
    16
    Well, more accurately, punctuation saves lives... ;)
     
  6. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    The novel (and movie) Dr. No was inspired by a real incident of a period instead of a comma in a computer program. It caused a rocket test flight to veer off course, leading to suspicions of "toppling" by enemy agents, until the error was found.

    In the computer language FORTRAN:

    FOR I = 1, 5

    is very different from:

    FOR I = 1. 5

    Both are valid FORTRAN statements. The first was the intended statement. Spaces are not significant in FORTRAN, so the second one is really:

    FORI=1.5

    (setting a variable to a value)
     
  7. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    it won't matter much [if at all] to agents/editors/publishers whichever method you use [oxford, or not], as long as you're consistent... if the publisher's house style calls for the opposite, they'll be changed in the editing...
     
  8. aimeekath
    Offline

    aimeekath Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2012
    Messages:
    126
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Bristol, England
    What is an oxford comma?
     
  9. funkybassmannick
    Offline

    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2011
    Messages:
    836
    Likes Received:
    30
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    The oxford comma is when you add a comma right before the "and" in a series. For example:

    Oxford: Me, myself, and I.
    No oxford: Me, myself and I.
     
  10. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    incidentally, that is a question easily answered by a google search. Much faster than posting and waiting for what you hope is a good response. You'll not only find definitions, but also recommendations when to use it and when to omit it.

    Train yourself to google reflexively. It's faster and better more often than you'd expect. Besides, a writer needs good research skills.
     
  11. Boriol
    Offline

    Boriol Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    Messages:
    50
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    United States
    I learned to use the Oxford comma in third grade and haven't strayed since. I see no reason to drop it.
     
  12. loomingtale
    Offline

    loomingtale Member

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2012
    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    1
    It's easier to read with one

    I have found that a comma produces much stronger break than an 'and', and some readers (like me) expect there to be a comma if there have been 2 or 3 of them separating the list items. It's easier to distinguish with a comma.

    By the way, why is it called an "Oxford" comma? I've read 2 or 3 books on the subject of punctuation and never have I come across this term. I think they blame it on the American/British differences. By the way, most usage guides are against it (except when there will be confusion without it) and so I go by the rules :p
     
  13. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    I tend to use it, especially if there is a possibility of mistaking the last two items for a single compound item.
     
  14. aimeekath
    Offline

    aimeekath Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2012
    Messages:
    126
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Bristol, England
    Oh right. Thanks.

    I shall try to do that next time then, just trying to learn.
     
  15. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    i use it when it seems to work better than not...
     

Share This Page