Markham Correct

The Oxford Comma

oxf  Given that we’ve conquered the dreaded comma splice, I thought it might be time to take a look at The Oxford Comma, and all the fuss that lies therein.

I have the misfortune to live near Oxford, and I hear people pretentiously snarking over this one all the time. If you’ve heard of it, but are unsure exactly what it is, you’re going to be disappointed.  It’s just the comma that comes after the conjunction in a list. And it’s completely optional.

“I went to the supermarket and bought bacon, tea, milk and bread.” Vs “I went to the supermarket and bought bacon, tea, milk, and bread.”

Not the end of the world either way. The problem comes when you have a slightly more complex list. In certain instances, using The Oxford Comma in your writing can avoid confusion and ambiguity.

“I was in the lab with my ex-boyfriend, an opera singer and a psychopath.” Vs “I was in the lab with my ex-boyfriend, an opera singer, and a psychopath.”

The presence or absence of a comma there can make all the difference. All you have to do is use your judgement. And don’t let the pretentious Oxford types get to you.