The Oxford Comma


Natalie Larimer, Staff Writer

The Oxford Comma is EXTREMELY important. I mentioned it in my first Interesting Factoids piece, but in case you don’t remember, it is the comma after the second-to-last word in a series or list. If you do not include the Oxford Comma, you imply that the third-to-last is describing the last two.

In my other story mentioning this, I used the example of;

  • I went to the party with the strippers, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

If you write it like that, you imply that Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are strippers. Other examples include;

  • I followed the Oompa Loompas, Snooki and Kim Kardashian. (However true it might be when taken literally, it’s still grammatically incorrect.)

Even though sometimes it doesn’t make a difference to the meaning of a sentence, it is still important. You wouldn’t take a regular comma out of the sentence, “Now, I see where you get the idea of…” because, by grammar rules, it should be there. Same with the Oxford Comma. It needs to be there no matter what (except for the exception. More on that below.) For example;

  • Sometimes I like to watch movies, eat bread and drink juice. (Oxford Comma not necessarily needed there but still important)

Sometimes when you forget the Oxford Comma, you make it seem as if you are addressing the last two of the series. Example;

  • Do you watch Supernatural, House and Hannibal? (I hope you don’t regularly talk to Hannibal but this is a good example that illustrates my point.)

There is an exception, like in all grammar rules. When you mean to imply that Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are strippers or Snooki and Kim Kardashian are Oompa Loompas, then don’t use the Oxford Comma. When you are in fact talking to House and Hannibal, don’t use the Oxford Comma. But when it doesn’t matter if the implication is there or not, always use the Oxford Comma.

The Oxford Comma is SUPER important and when people take it out, such as unnamed Newspaper teachers, I get upset. The reason said teacher takes it out is because AP Style (the grammar rule book for journalism) says to omit the Oxford Comma. The only reason it says this is because back in the old days they took it out because it saved them money for the ink. That’s it. That is the only reason that AP Style says to take it out. But it is NECESSARY. I will always use my Oxford Comma because it is needed, grammatically correct, and awesome.