Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Oxford Commas

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.

2 comments:

Luke Holzmann said...

I've long held to the idea that "you can have my Oxford Comma when you pry it from my cold, dead, and lifeless hands." (Wish I was clever enough to come up with that kind of thing.) I am so glad there are those in the next generation who are ready to continue to carry the torch! [smile]

~Luke

Choate Family said...

Totally in the "Oxford Comma Fan Club" with you, my friend!