Who Else Is An Oxford Comma Supporter?

(No, I’m not talking about the Vampire Weekend song, although I am a Vampire Weekend supporter, I suppose you could say, despite the fact that we seem to share an opposite opinion regarding this grammar issue.)

Nope, this is a straight grammar nerd post.

I’d like to take this paragraph to point out that I’m not a stickler for all things grammar. I typically misuse syntax, in keeping with the evolving trend of language, and am at peace with that. (I say things like, “The teacher took their student to the office,” rather than the correct, “The teacher took her student to the office.”) I often end sentences with prepositions. I do, however, very much care about issues like “you and me” versus “you and I.” (Example: “Will you lend the car to Dad and me?” is correct, whereas the increasingly more common, “Will you lend the car to Dad and I?” makes my skin crawl. The English language! What’s happening to it?) And don’t even get me started on “your” versus “you’re.” Sheesh. So yes, I have distinct grammar issues that I choose to uphold and others I don’t think much about. The Oxford comma emphatically falls within the former category.

Despite the fact that I’m trained in the ways of journalism and all things AP Style related, I am a huge proponent of the Oxford comma (a.k.a. serial comma), and use it whenever possible.

Of course, I’m a supporter of the properly used comma in general, and Eats, Shoots & Leaves was a wonderful discovery, helping me know I’m not alone in this strange grammar semi-obsession. Judging from amusing posts I see floating around the social space, there are, in fact, many of us out there (and for this I am thankful):

But the Oxford comma just makes so much sense! It creates explicit clarity that I feel is undeniable. Why not use that extra little stroke of ink to make sure everyone knows you’re talking about distinctly separate entities, rather than leaving those last two to context and interpretation? Please refer to the example below:

Both uses of commas are technically correct, but the Oxford comma example offers so much more clarity, in my opinion (and obviously the creator of this graphic would agree).

Now, again, this is not something supported by AP Style, or used in most published works, and so I’m only able to exert my Oxford comma love in places like emails, this blog, or cards I write. And that’s fine. I’m okay playing by the rules, I just want to make my preference clear, as well as stand up for the Oxford comma whenever possible. After all, just because it’s not preferred by most doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

I am indeed a part of the Oxford comma posse, and when I’m writing on my own terms, you’ll always find the Oxford comma alive and well.

Does anyone else out there share a similar resolve for this lovely use of punctuation? I know this guy agrees with me, and Linda Holmes of NPR and I have an eerily similar stance on this issue. (Seriously. Read this article. It’s basically a much better version of this post. Weird.)

2 Comments

  1. gwynne

    I feel the same way about the Oxford comma. Why does AP style prefer to take out that final comma in a series? Precipitate brings in a great deal of the AP style conventions since we’re publishing online, but none of us wants to give up the serial comma. Help me, wise journalism lady. Did your profs ever explain the reasoning behind the convention?

    p.s. jfk and stalin (stripper style) is internet gold.

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