April 25, 2017

The Oxford Comma

For grammar geeks like me, the term “Oxford comma” evokes a passionate response, but most people simply feel confused. What the heck is it, and how are you supposed to use it (or not)? My colleagues at TGB have tripped over this question as well, so I’m here to help you navigate the comma madness.

The Oxford comma is also called the “serial comma” – in other words, one in a series. Lists of nouns or adjectives can be written two ways. Without the Oxford comma, they look like this: The dog is small, fluffy and adorable. With the Oxford comma, they look like this: The dog is small, fluffy, and adorable. See that last comma after “fluffy”? That’s the Oxford.

Here’s the thing, though. In 99.9% of cases, using the Oxford comma makes absolutely no difference to the meaning of the sentence. In the end, it’s really a question of style preference. The most important thing is consistency. Choose the option you prefer – always the Oxford, or never the Oxford – and stick with it. Either way, you’ve mastered that bad boy.

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