I have a confession. I’m a firm Oxford comma gal. Not a Oxford comma Nazi, but I use it in my writing and correct it in my editing. (And yes, there is a reason I’m explaining this!)
For those of you who, understandably, have no reason to know what an Oxford comma is, here’s a quick lesson. An Oxford comma comes before the final “and” in a series. For instance:
The girl bought lunchmeat, bread, and mayonnaise. The Oxford comma comes after “bread.”
This sentence is still grammatically correct without that comma. The girl bought lunchmeat, bread and mayonnaise. I am among those who believe that adding a comma provides additional clarity and, in some cases, prevents misunderstanding. But, I won’t go so far as to say that those who don’t use it are wrong. (Although I may tease them about it!)
In my editing and teaching, though, I consistently use it.
And now to the story of the day…
My sweet fourth grader brought his language arts book to me to ask a question. He was supposed to be finding what was incorrect in a set of sentences.
“Mommy,” he began, “I am looking at this sentence, and I can’t find anything that’s really wrong. All I see is that it doesn’t have the Oxford comma.”
No, his grammar book does NOT specifically teach the Oxford comma (although it does teach that a comma should be there – just doesn’t name it). Yet my ten year old grasped recognized that it would be best to have a comma there, admitted that it was optional, and remembered what it was called.
Why, yes, it was a proud mama moment.
And yes, I’m weird. Thank you for noticing.