Thursday, February 28, 2013

Punctuation: The Oxford Comma

I'm horrible with punctuation so it should be no surprise I didn't know what an Oxford comma was. I had wondered, though, when I'd read news and other writings where a comma was placed where I didn't think one was needed such as "My heart beats true for the red, white, and blue". They were often written by educated and experienced writers.

I was under the impression that last comma shouldn't be used when "and" is present, but that's an Oxford comma. It's use is debatable. Bumped into this online explanation of Oxford commas yesterday. Up until now I just thought its use was wrong, but did wonder about it sometimes as it seemed to match the way we talk.

I see one of the reasons they list for using it is just that: "Matches the natural speech pattern of pausing before the last item in a series.". I'll try and use it that way when applicable from now on. I don't think the example of theirs that I used in the first paragraph needs the last comma. Doesn't match natural speech.


At 10:26 AM, Anonymous grackle said...

You can find an amusing example of a situation in which the Oxford or serial comma would be advantageous here:

which has a newspaper clipping with the sentence, "Among those interviewed were his two ex-wives, Kris Kristofferson and Robert Duval."

See also, here: which mentions other amusing examples that would have been clearer with serial commas.

At 10:56 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

What do you think of this comment I just left on Marcy Burstiner's column in this week's North Coast Journal?

They’re a waste of time, annoying and should be replaced with nothing but city business.

I don't think I need a comma before the "and". Anybody else?

At 11:43 PM, Anonymous skippy said...

Yes, you do, I believe. But understand, the Oxford comma is something that has been thoroughly drilled into my head since the 6th grade. I couldn't get it out even if I used a crowbar.


Post a Comment

<< Home