Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Little Comma That Could

I don't know about y'all, but I am an avid supporter of the Oxford/Serial comma (not joking). If you've been following the endless debate on the controversial little comma, you'd know I'm not the only one. Fun Fact: The Oxford comma got its name from the Oxford University Press, where it has been traditionally used by editors. If you have no idea what I am talking about, the Oxford comma is the comma that comes before the conjunction in a series of words. Basically, it’s used to prevent any confusion or ambiguity.
Here’s an example:

“Among those interviewed were his two friends, Jane and John.” 
In this sentence, it could be taken that Jane and John were his two friends.

“Among those interviewed were his two friends, Jane, and John.”
Now the Oxford Comma has clarified that his two friends were interviewed, as well as Jane and John.

DEBATE WON with that example. I'm being biased and not writing the argument on the other side of the debate because, frankly, it doesn't make sense to me. By the way, MLA likes the Oxford comma too.

Side Note: You should listen to Oxford Comma by Vampire Weekend. I really don’t know what it is about or what it has to do with the Oxford comma, but it’s a pretty great song. 


Ian Kuehne said...

I like the Oxford comma too; I think it helps more than it hurts and it matches the way lists are actually read aloud. There is an exception, though: what about a sentence like: "I interviewed my friend, Jane, and John"? Is Jane my friend or did I interview some other unnamed friend? I think that in cases like this it is best to remove the Oxford comma if Jane is not my friend and rearrange the sentence if she is: "I interviewed John and my friend Jane."

Joseph D'Amico said...

I agree with you both. I really like the oxford comma, and don't really see why anyone wouldn't like it. As Ian pointed out, there are some instances where it would be a little awkward, but those are much easier to fix than something like Brooke's example. I know that English is a complex language and stuff, but it would really be nice if we could come up with some standard set of rules.

Amy Clement said...

The Oxford comma is definitely the way to go. I honestly did not even know it was grammatically context to not use one until 7th grade. I always knew it as the Harvard comma, but they're both the same. Go Harvard/Oxford comma!