I Am An Oxford Comma Enthusiast

As an Oxford comma enthusiast, I am always surprised by how controversial the use of this tiny punctuation mark can be. While some may view it as unnecessary, I believe that it is an essential tool for conveying meaning and ensuring clarity in writing. As a voracious reader and a skilled writer, I can confidently say that the Oxford comma is a critical component of effective communication.

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The Oxford comma, also known as the serial comma, is a comma placed after the penultimate item in a list of three or more items. For example, consider the following sentence: “I need to buy bread, milk, and eggs.” The Oxford comma appears after the word “milk,” before the conjunction “and.” Some writers may omit the Oxford comma and write the sentence as “I need to buy bread, milk and eggs.” While this may seem like a minor difference, it can have a significant impact on the meaning of a sentence.

The primary benefit of using the Oxford comma is that it helps to avoid ambiguity in writing. Consider the following sentence: “I invited my parents, John and Shirley.” Without the Oxford comma, it’s unclear whether John and Shirley are the writer’s parents or separate entities. However, with the Oxford comma, the sentence reads “I invited my parents, John, and Shirley,” making it clear that the writer’s parents are different from the two named individuals.

Furthermore, the use of the Oxford comma can enhance the readability of a sentence. It helps to separate items in a list, making it easier for the reader to understand the meaning of the sentence. This is particularly important in complex sentences that contain multiple clauses and ideas. The Oxford comma can provide a visual cue to the reader that a new item is being introduced, helping to break up long and convoluted sentences.

In addition to its practical benefits, the Oxford comma can also add a sense of elegance and precision to writing. It signals to the reader that the writer is attentive to detail and cares about the clarity of their message. This is especially important in fields such as academia, where precision and accuracy are highly valued.

The image used in this piece was taken from openverse.

William Safire On Writing Tips | William Saffire’s Rules For Writers | Thomas Slatin, On Writing | Time And Time Again | The Oxford Comma at Work: The Law on a Final Comma in Lists | The Oxford Comma | The serial (“Oxford”) comma and screen readers | Why Is the Oxford Comma Called the Oxford Comma?


  • Framesoflifeblog

    I was reading a book on this the other day. Apparently, now there is not much emphasis on the importance of Oxford comma, as long as the sentence conveys the meaning as it should. Definitely this is a good way to improve writing skills.

    • Thomas Slatin

      Ultimately, the decision of whether to deploy the illustrious Oxford comma is one that lies at the intersection of both stylistic considerations and personal predilections. While certain respected style guides, like the Associated Press Stylebook, refrain from mandating its use, others, like the renowned Chicago Manual of Style, ardently advocate for its inclusion. The crux of the matter, however, is to maintain a steadfast and unwavering commitment to uniformity and consistency in one’s usage of this punctuation mark within a given literary work or publication.

  • Amelia Phoenix Desertsong

    When I was in elementary school, they were still teaching the Oxford comma. But by the time I got to high school, a lot of teachers started scratching them out on my papers. I kept using it anyway. In college, at first, the Oxford comma was still appreciated, but as time went on, professors began scolding me for its use. I’m always going to use it, because that’s how I was taught, and it reads better, just as you said. 🙂

    • Thomas Slatin

      I had an English teacher in my senior year of high school who was always fascinated with grammar and syntax. He enjoyed teaching us about the significance of proper punctuation and aimed to instill a profound appreciation for the complexities of language. However, he had a strong dislike for one particular aspect of grammar: the Oxford Comma.

      Some people believe that this comma is unnecessary, while others, including yours truly, believe that it is crucial for clarity and consistency. However, my teacher was always been bothered by the Oxford comma, feeling that it was unnecessary, and disrupted the flow of a sentence. He would make the claim that an extra comma made a sentance look cluttered.

      He began by explaining to his students why he didn’t like the Oxford comma, showing them examples of sentences with and without the comma. These examples were all visual, and he would make the comma dramatically larger than anyone would in actual handwriting.

      I have always been a little different, and I showed resistance and was very reluctant to let go of the Oxford comma. As the remainder of the class agreed to leave out Oxford Commas from their papers, I was the one who made an effort to spitefully add them in whenever possible.

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