Jan 062016

You really need a full-time proofreader.

I really do. My grammar and punctuation skills are sorely lacking.

This is brilliant, but I’m still on the “there are times we need the Oxford comma” side. Sometimes restructuring the sentence isn’t the best answer.

The Oxford comma is the comma before the and in a list. For example; I need milk, eggs, and butter to make cookies. This is the way I was taught to write a list in school and it has taken me a long time to break this habit. Much like the double space after a period, it’s engrained in my head.

There are times that the Oxford comma is useful in clearing up a sentence. For example; I invited my family, Mary and Steve. Now let’s say that Mary and Steve are friends, not family. Reading the sentence, it is assumed that Mary and Steve are family and the only people invited when I actually invited my entire family along with Mary and Steve. If you add the Oxford comma the sentence becomes clearer. I invited my family, Mary, and Steve. 

This sentence can be rewritten for clarity. I invited Mary, Steve and my family. While I agree in this case, I believe there are cases when rewriting the sentence changes the impact. For example; I love my kids, Dan and Steve. Here, it looks like both Dan and Steve are my kids. Let’s say Dan and Steve are my brothers. I could rewrite it, I love Dan, Steve and my kids, but I wanted my kids listed first because emphasis needs to be placed on the love for my kids. Maybe I love my kids above all else. Without separating it into multiple sentences, I can solve the problem with the Oxford Comma. I love my kids, Dan, and Steve. 

It could be rewritten another way. Maybe; I love my kids more than anything, but I also love Dan and Steve. To me, that makes Dan and Steve more of an afterthought or of lesser importance than I meant for them to be. 

Either way, I’m sure the debate will continue for a long time to come. I just try to avoid the Oxford comma whenever I can.

Enough about the Oxford comma… on to Word Crimes!

 Posted by at 6:00 am

  5 Responses to ““Weird Al” Yankovic – Word Crimes”

  1. […] posted a video for Weird Al’s Word Crimes video about two weeks ago and blathered on about the Oxford comma. Here’s a simple explanation of […]

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