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.


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]

Choate Family said…
Totally in the "Oxford Comma Fan Club" with you, my friend!

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