Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Oxford Comma - Yay or Nay?

Infographic: The Oxford Comma

You thought the teachers contract was a battle?   OnlineSchools.com presents - the Oxford Comma.  Teachers, yay or nay?  (Me, I'm old school so it's yay.)


Anonymous said...

The best grammar book I've seen for today's student is Grammar Girl by Mignon Fogarty. Practical usage is the name of the game these days, not arbitrary rules, apparently.


Anonymous said...

When it is confusing without the comma I add the comma otherwise less is more. For an amusing book on grammar read Eats, Shoots and Leaves.


Patrick said...

Of course there should be commas separating all the elements of a series. Why should the last element be different? And the name Oxford Comma is silly, it's not as if Oxford were the only place where it's used. As I understand it, omitting the comma before the last element of a series was newspaper practice designed to save about 1/32 of an inch of paper and 1/100 of a cent of ink. Why anybody continues to omit the necessary comma in these days of electronic screens is the mystery.

Patrick said...

Oh, I'm not a teacher, so if you're just in teachers' opinions my strong feelings on the matter don't count. ;)

Eric B said...

Oxford comma yes. Otherwise bad things happen:

There was a party and the White House with the strippers, Khruschev and Kennedy.

I'd like to thank my parents, Jesus and Oprah Winfrey.

The latter is from here.

Anonymous said...

But if you are eating apples, bananas and oranges, then it is superfluous.


hschinske said...

I say yea (not "yay" by the way), but it's a matter of house style. I've never heard of a place where the serial comma couldn't be used if it was really needed (e.g., to remove the ambiguity in sentences like the ones Eric B. quotes, or my personal favorite, "Among those interviewed were his two ex-wives, Kris Kristofferson and Robert Duvall").

Oh, and you really oughta see this comment (to a generally fun thread): http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/012652.html#484632

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Agree with fellow editor Helen, but I also vote for consistency within a document or publication. If it's needed in some cases, use it in all. Otherwise you may be asking a proofreader to have to pause and evaluate the sentence. Hence, I say yea.

Solvay Girl

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well Helen, you have me there. (Although I did mean the "hooray" yay, my intent was yea.)

Anonymous said...

Wonderful examples of why we need that comma! I love it!

From WebEnglishTeacher:

Let's eat Grandma.
Let's eat, Grandma.

Comma's can make all the difference.

seattle citizen said...

(I like to eat my family and my pets)
What is the purpose of the writing (commas or no)? Who is the audience? Are we talking about first draft or final edit?

As Forrester (Sean Connery) advise Jamal (Rob Brown) in "Finding Forrester":
“ *Punch* the keys, for God's sake!...No thinking - that comes later. You must write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head. The first key to writing is to write, not to think!”

So if it’s a first draft or merely a missive from the heart, don’t even stop to think: Do as Pete Townshend recommends in the song “Communication”:

Comma comma comma comma
Commai commai commai commai
Commu commu commu commu
communi communi communicate
…Use the words like flowing river touches
Embraces parting hard steel surfaces reveling pages
Beneath the water skin broken like ice flows
Smashed by iron bows on the back of a whale
Open hearted
Soon forgotten - never parted
Com com communicate
Communicate communicate
Communicate communicate
Via satellite and solid state
Never never hesitate
Communicate communicate
Communicate communicate
Never never hesitate

Anonymous said...

The comma sometime can make things clearer and sometimes less clear. "To my mother, Ayn Rand, and God". Clearity should be preferred but in most cases it is personal taste.

Anonymous said...

Above comment by Dave G