Love it or hate it, the Oxford (or serial) comma debate is alive and well in the world of grammarians. There are those who are oddly passionate about their belief that a comma should be used in all cases at the end of a list of things, but some feel like it’s just not that big of a deal. Let’s review.
Those who were brought up writing by the rules of AP style (ahem, yours truly) tend to scoff at the use of Oxford commas as it’s simply not required. However, there are some cases where it must be used because let’s face it; sentences would read a little wonky without it.
For example, for AP style diehards, a sentence would look like this:
“The toad frog ate black beans, fried rice and toast.”
Seems harmless, right? The interpretation is the same with or without the comma, so it’s just a matter of preference. But what about the below sentence:
“I love my friends, Jimmy Fallon and Queen Elizabeth.”
Without an Oxford comma, the above sentence would seem as though I have two pretty famous friends named Jimmy Fallon and Queen Elizabeth. Well, that’s simply not true (Pfft… in my dreams). So, in the spirit of those who advocate for the oxford comma, the correct sentence would be:
“I love my friends, Jimmy Fallon, and Queen Elizabeth.”
However, what about those who oppose the Oxford comma? They would simply argue that restructuring the sentence would solve the problem. Here’s what they might suggest:
“I love Queen Elizabeth, Jimmy Fallon and my friends.”
Look at that! Problem solved. Commas can be tricky, but like so many things, especially in writing, it depends on your preference and your style. So, search your inner grammarphobe and choose a side. Are you pro or no Oxford comma?
If you’re looking to publicly show your pro or no comma pride, consider joining the below Facebook groups (and yes, these are real):
Not an Oxford comma fan? Here are a few groups for you:
And for your pure reading pleasure (apparently, these two know each other):
And if you’re looking to combine your love of grammar with other random interests, consider joining one of these groups:
All hilarity aside, be kind to one another and practice grammar tolerance. May the comma drama continue…and may the comma “force” be with you.
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Anna is an author and writer who is passionate about the art of storytelling. She enjoys connecting with small businesses in her community while taking their marketing efforts to the next level of growth.