Sunday, December 4, 2016

Apparently, I've Been Using an Oxford Comma My Whole Life

When I started writing for CBR, their style guide said, "no Oxford comma." I was like "Fine, I just use regular commas." On my first post, I got feedback that I had used the Oxford comma. I was like, "My bad. Must have been that stylized quotation mark that Word does." I took that out. On my second article, I got "no Oxford commas" again. I looked through my article and couldn't find the weird quotation mark, so I let it go. On my third article, I got the same feedback less politely, so I decided to look up the Oxford comma. Turns out I have been using it all along.

I literally had never heard of the Oxford comma until now. It's also called the "serial comma." Wikipedia describes it this way:
In English language punctuation, a serial comma or series comma (also called Oxford comma and Harvard comma) is a comma placed immediately before the coordinating conjunction (usually and or or) in a series of three or more terms. For example, a list of three countries might be punctuated either as "France, Italy, and Spain" (with the serial comma), or as "France, Italy and Spain" (without the serial comma).
In other words, a regular comma.

To me, it seems bizarre to use anything but the Oxford comma. If I wrote "my father cooked dinner for me, my mother and our dog," it could sound like my father cooked my mother and dog for dinner. Why wouldn't you use a comma in there?

I don't understand opposition to the serial comma. I'm following the mandate for CBR, but I'm still going to use the Oxford comma in my novels, short stories, and other writing. (See what I did there?)

Did you know about the Oxford comma? Do you use the Oxford comma? If not, why not?

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