The Oxford comma.

camidon's picture

Here's a punctuation question:

What is your opinion on the "oxford" comma? What is the "oxford" comma? Examine the following sentence:

Mr. Smith likes peanuts, popcorn, and chocolate koalas.
Mr. Smith likes peanuts, popcorn and chocolate koalas.

Notice the comma or lack of one. When there is a comma before the "and", that is called, by some, and "oxford" comma. Which do people prefer and why? Anyone have strong opinions which is the "more correct" version? Is there a "more correct" version?

Who knew reading about commas could be so damn fun. Shock I'm half serious! :smt077

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Re:The Oxford comma.

I learned that the extra comma was incorrect. Until I moved to Hartford. Grammarians here noted with disgust that in the insurance capitol, everyone adds the Oxford comma, as you note it. So now it seems to go both ways.

Personally, I think there are times when the comma is helpful, particularly when you are separating phrases rather than single words. In those cases, I almost always include it. For simple sentences, I tend to leave it out.

Of course, I'll be the first to say that technical grammar is not one of my strengths, so you should probably just ignore this. :oops:


Re:The Oxford comma.

I check the Bible (The Elements of Style), and they say you do use the comma after the last element in the list. They call it the "serial" comma and it's only omitted when listing names in a firm, e.g. Dewey, Cheatham and Howe Solicitors at Law.

So sayeth the masters Strunk and White, and though there be much wailing and gnashing of teeth, none could deny its righteousness.

I'm not a complete idiot -- some parts are missing.

camidon's picture

Oh Good

Oh Good. Someone has the Strunk and White "Elements". I was hoping they did. I'm glad it is "righteous" as I profess to like that little, curvy cutie in that specific spot. :oops:

A friend who recently took a class on AP Style was taught to omit that comma as it saves space in newspapers. All government docs, at least National Park Service, omit the comma and it drives me nuts. Go figure.

There was some other strange deletion that he learned, but I can't recall what at the moment.


Life is a lot like caving: Most of the time you grope around in the dark.