It is the little speck of punctuation that is the fine line between brilliance and pure embarrassment: The Oxford Comma. Named after the Oxford University Press style guideline where the comma is a mandated requirement to be used before a conjunction at the end of the list. Because the style guide mandates, the students of Oxford University must abide.
But why stop there? Why only mandate the comma’s use just to Oxford University. I would like to make a movement for the Oxford Comma to be incorporated as an obligatory writing rule! Stop the Presses! MLA, APA, Chicago – start mandating the Oxford Comma so that we, lovers of the written word, can stop being subjected to atrocities such as these:
With the Oxford Comma: We invited the strippers, JFK, and Stalin.
Without the Oxford Comma: We invited the strippers, JFK and Stalin.
With the Oxford Comma: We invited the rhinoceri, Washington, and Lincoln.
Without the Oxford Comma: We invited the rhinoceri, Washington and Lincoln.
With the Oxford Comma: I like going on vacations, hanging with friends, drinking good beer, and driving fast.
Without the Oxford Comma: I like going on vacations, hanging with friends, drinking good beer and driving fast.
With the Oxford Comma: I would like to thank my parents, Sting, and Oprah Winfrey.
Without the Oxford Comma: I would like to thank my parents, Sting and Oprah Winfrey.
Writers who utilize this comma are seen as gold in my eyes. Many authors’ books sit pristine upon my bookshelves, their pages unmarred by red ink because I don’t have to edit in an Oxford Comma. So, writers, be kind to your readers and use the Oxford comma. It will save your readers from wondering if your parents actually are Sting and Oprah Winfrey.
P.S. To all the comma haters out there, I would like to note that proper grammar and comma usage saves lives. There is an intense difference between:
“Let’s eat Grandpa.” and “Let’s eat, Grandpa.”