A love letter to the Oxford comma

Dear Beloved Punctuation,

Other commas be damned. You, Oxford comma will always have my heart.

Of course, you wouldn’t know that from what I’ve been writing recently. Forget the academic paper laden semesters of old; this is the semester of snappy news releases governed by Associated Press style. Use of the Oxford comma is acceptable only in the case of a crisis of clarity.

Sorry Oxford comma. We’re on a break. I promise that I’ll never be truly unfaithful to you though. I find the non-serial comma positively loathsome. This is purely a relationship of convenience.

Your mechanics are simple: in a list of three items or more, the Oxford comma sits at the end of the last word before a grammatical conjunction. Words like “and” are your cue to enter a sentence.

An easy guide to the Oxford comma for my fellow pop culture lovers. (Source: crepuscularly, flickr)

Born at the Oxford Press, some call you the serial comma. I prefer your more formal name. It speaks highly to your pedigree.

The non-serial comma will never match your quiet dignity, you distinguished punctuation. I shudder to think that some people prefer your unclear counterpart.

IMG_1036
Oxford comma: the epitome of quiet dignity. (Source: Anne Ferguson)

I’m not alone in my adoration of you, Oxford comma. The Twitter account “Celebrity Oxford Comma” asks celebrities to weigh in on the Oxford comma. James Van der Beek, Seth MacFarlane, Kate Walsh, Kevin Smith, Neil Gaiman, and even Neil deGrasse Tyson have tweeted their support for the world’s greatest punctuation.

I’ve even used you in this love letter. Every list in this post uses the Oxford comma, my own tiny rebellion against Associated Press style. Sorry all you other commas, I give my love to one comma in particular.

Oxford comma, my heart belongs to you.

Yours truly,

Mallie

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One comment

  1. Exclamation points, semi-colons, and commas: oh my! Learned something about commas today. Also, just want you to know I’m nervous about commenting on a grammar site.

    Like

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