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Karen Lombardo

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Use of the Oxford comma
Blog / Fun Facts / putanotherwayllc

Fun Fact #1: The Oxford comma

Jan 22, 2018

Writing can be enjoyable and challenging.  Passion is something many of us have and we use writing, blogging or any other art form as a tool to express this passion.  There is no dominant right or wrong method, outlet or format. Yet along the way, you may come across something that makes you go “hmm”.

The use of the Oxford comma when listing three or more items before a conjunction, such as ‘and’, sparks debate among writers and scholars alike.

The use of the Oxford comma, sometimes called the serial comma, is stylistic. Some style guides mandate it, and some do not. The key is consistency.  If you are going to use the Oxford comma, then you should be consistent in using it whenever it is applicable.

The Oxford comma removes ambiguity and clarifies the writer’s intention, for example:

We invited the clowns, my mother and my best friend to the party.

Without the comma, the implication is that the invited clowns are my mother and my best friend.

We invited the clowns, my mother, and my best friend to the party.

With the comma, it is clear the list of invitees are the clown, my mother, and my best friend.

The take-a-way?  Look at your writing from the reader’s perspective.  Is it clear?  Is there confusion? Sometimes your passion and excitement can get in the way of an objective outlook.  You know what you are trying to say, but does the reader understand it?

In our opinion, when in doubt, use the Oxford comma.

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