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xBRIANx's avatar

Do you use an Oxford comma in sentences?

Asked by xBRIANx (242points) February 23rd, 2010

An Oxford comma (also known as a “series comma”) is the comma used immediately before a grammatical conjunction (usually “and” or “or”, sometimes “nor”) preceding the final item in a list of three or more items.

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34 Answers

frigate1985's avatar

For essays, yeah, for casual writing (like facebook) nope

EmpressPixie's avatar

Yes. I am quite devoted to the Oxford comma.

Facade's avatar

Yea. It’s how I was taught.

stump's avatar

If I am writing a letter, e-mail, or online posting I do, but if I am writing in my journal, a shopping list or something like that I don’t.

Trillian's avatar

That comma is something that I do not use. I feel that the comma is something that is completely overused. I will use it in the series, but not before the conjunction. APA allows for its not to be there. Yaaay APA!

tedibear's avatar

No, I don’t. I was taught that either way is correct and I find the extra comma to be annoying!

eponymoushipster's avatar

Who gives a fuck about an oxford comma ?~

fireinthepriory's avatar

Yes, consistently, all the time, even in text messages or notes scribbled on a napkin. It’s just habit.

@eponymoushipster Great song! :)

MrItty's avatar

Yes. In school we were taught that either way is acceptable, but it never made sense to me to exclude it. I had no idea that it had a name, however.

SundayKittens's avatar

YES and I’m dedicated to the song of the same name.

LostInParadise's avatar

I don’t use it. I think it is redundant. The conjunction serves the same purpose.

xBRIANx's avatar

@Trillian – the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA), 5th edition, Chapter 3.02 states to “use a comma between elements (including before and and or) in a series of three or more items.”

xBRIANx's avatar

@LostInParadise, if the conjunction serves the same purpose then consider the following sentence: “My favorite sandwiches are ham, turkey and peanut butter and jelly.” Adding an oxford comma removes this ambiguity. Without a comma after turkey, the reader could interpret it as a “turkey and peanut butter and jelly” sandwich. Tasty.

Trillian's avatar

Where’s Jeruba?

Bluefreedom's avatar

I have used them, yes. Do I use them on every occasion that I write? No. Should I make a better effort to do so? Maybe.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

Oh, yes. I had a high school English teacher who was a very strict grammarian. She taught me how to write. Decades later, I still do what she says. :-)

Pretty_Lilly's avatar

Yes,but I prefer to call it a “Freedom” comma.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I was taught to use commas and semicolons. I also use this type of comma as a “break for breath” in a long sentence. If the sentence is being read out loud, when would the reader have to comfortably stop to breathe.

janbb's avatar

I was taught and have taught that it is omitted before a conjunction in a series. Of course, the ultimate goal of any punctuation is to add clarity so in the case of the pb and j series referenced above by @xBRIANx , I would add a comma before the first “and.”

tedibear's avatar

@xBRIANx – In your sandwich example I would use it. In most cases though, it’s still no.

frigate1985's avatar

@xBRIANx I’ll try that turkey peanut butter jelly mix sometime in the future lol

TheJoker's avatar

Huh, I wasn’t actually aware of what an Oxford Comma is….. but it turns out I do use them.

CMaz's avatar

If I am in the mood.

tragiclikebowie's avatar

Yes, I enjoy the Oxford comma, and get confused without it.

LostInParadise's avatar

What @tedibear39 said, although even in this case it is possible to figure out what is intended since it would not make sense to have two ands unless the last one was for the purpose of combining peanutbutter and jelly.. Still, I would use a comma in this case to make things easy on the reader.

ShiningToast's avatar

“Who gives a fuck about an Oxford Comma?”

I use them. It was the way I was taught to write when I was a wee little tyke.

ShiningToast's avatar

@eponymoushipster Damn it, you beat me to it! Lurve :).

tedibear's avatar

As I look back on the sandwich sentence, I know what I would do there. The “and” between peanut butter and jelly would become an ampersand. Therefore:

“My favorite sandwiches are ham, turkey and peanut butter and jelly,” becomes

“My favorite sandwiches are ham, turkey and peanut butter & jelly.”

But that’s just me.

Jeruba's avatar

I do, yes, always, unless I am editing to a house style that forbids them.

@Trillian, I was meeting with an editing client.

downtide's avatar

Yes. I also tend to stick that comma in front of conjunctions where it’s not supposed to be. Just a bad habit.

PacificToast's avatar

Yes, unless someone editing my paper deems it unneeded.

LostInParadise's avatar

I don’t know how many are still following this, but I found an amusing article on the Oxford comma here. Before you get riled up, skip to the article update at the end of it.

downtide's avatar

I do use it, though I didn’t realise it had a name. I was also taught that it was an error to use a comma before a conjuncton.

xBRIANx's avatar

@LostInParadise – thanks for the link. What a great article!

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