Comma Catastrophe – Using & Not Using the Oxford Comma

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Improper punctution can cause catastrophes. (Can you tell my degree was in English?)

Exhibit A: Let’s eat Grandma.

Exhibit B: Let’s eat, Grandma.

Unless you are into cannibalism, I suggest you place yyour commas wisely. Commas are used to either group or separate words, and believe it or not there are several different types of commas. To keep this from turning into a paper airplane making, drool on your desk grammar lecture, I’m just going to define and give an example of one- the Oxford comma.

The Oxford comma, also known as the serial comma, is a comma used directly before a coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so) to mark the end of a series.

Example: I ate an apple, eggs, and toast for breakfast.

The comma highlighted in red is of the regal Oxford family. It is called the Oxford comma because it is typically used by writers, printers, and editors of the Oxford University Press.

(** Tip: Slap on the word the Oxford to just about anything and it will sound ten times more dignified… I bought Oxford shoes. My shirt is made from pure Oxford leather. I only put Oxford gasoline in my car. See?! It doesn’t even have to make sense, but it sounds awesome!)

And for the grand finale, the real reason I use the Oxford comma when providing a series of items is this:

If you’re unsure about whether to place a comma, my suggestion is like Nike- just do it. I’d rather get comma happy than cause a comma catastrophe.

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