That Pesky Oxford Comma

The Oxford Comma

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First off, I’m not going to explain what the Oxford comma is. You should know. But honestly, it’s because I’m writing this post immediately after getting off work and I have a limited amount of time before my usual posting time. So…I’m rushing.

Anyway, when I was in school (I’m talking during the elementary years) I remember specifically being taught to use the Oxford comma. Always. And during middle and high school, and also in college I used it in every essay I ever wrote. Never once was I corrected. But if you just read enough blog posts you’ll find that a lot of people don’t use it. From every part of the world.

I’ve read that it is used much less in the UK than it is in America. And I really have no idea why that is. All I know is that I’ve always and will continue to use it. Until I’m given a very credible source telling me not to.

Do you have any secret knowledge about it? Do share.

7 thoughts on “That Pesky Oxford Comma

  1. As far back as I can remember I was always taught only to use it when it is used to prevent ambiguity, such as, “I picked up jars of rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper mix, and garlic.” I grew up in Ohio.

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  2. No secret knowledge, just was trained to always use it. (Like two spaces after a sentence, which I hear is certain death now.)

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  3. Ugh, I remember having an entire class discussion on this stupid comma. I use it most of the time, but then sometimes, depending on the sentence, I’ll read it better without it. I don’t know, but it’s a huge controversy in the literary world ha

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  4. Ah, the wonderful series or Oxford comma.
    Now where does one start with that?

    I for one generally use it, and I write British English as opposed to American English.
    The use if this comma is, let’s say, controversial.

    It is known as the serial comma or Oxford comma, because it is part of the house style of Oxford University Press.

    In the USA the MLA Style Manual, the APA Style, The Chicargo Manual of Style, Strunk & White’s Elements of Style……Etc. Etc. all mandate the use of the Oxford Comma.

    In Canada it is advised against by the Associated Press Stylebook & the Canadian Press Style Manual.

    Here, in the UK, some British style guides require it, including unsurprisingly the Oxford University Press. Whereas Fowler’s Modern English Usage advise its use ‘only where necessary to avoid ambiguity.

    So use it or not, the choice is yours!

    (I hope this helps), Paul

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  5. Be consistent. Use it or don’t. That’s how I understand it. Some publishers insist it be used, while others may not.

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  6. The AP Style Guide rule is to never use it unless leaving it out might cause confusion. But I would personally never follow the AP Style Guide.

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