It’s a given that some things are up for debate. Further vs farther. Y’all vs you guys. Apartment vs flat. But when it comes to punctuation, the biggy is the Oxford comma. To use or not to use….that is the question.
On April 6th, I read a wonderful blog post by John Guillen on Write me a book, John! “Writing Pet Peeves #8: Commas.” I LOVE commas. In grad school, comma, I took a History of the English Language Linguistics Course. period. The professor stressed that the average writer does not use enough commas. period. Of course, I love commas when they are used correctly. Reading John Guillen’s post reminded me of my shocking realization that some people use the Oxford comma. I mean like use it regularly. Like in real life.
It was a dark and stormy night, and I was looking at my newsfeed on Facebook. I noticed a post by my cousin where she wrote something to the effect that there are humans on this earth who don’t use the Oxford comma. I was like are you effin kidding me??? Who would use that antiquated device! I was literally enraged. Ridiculous.
Oh, for those of you who aren’t grammar geeks, the Oxford comma is the extra comma erroneously used before the ‘and’ at the end of a list. Ok, ok, I’ll play fair. According to www.oxforddictionaries.com, “The Oxford comma is an optional comma before the word ‘and’ at the end of a list.”
She buys meat, cheese, and bread.
AAAAUUUGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! I mean, who would use that??? So back to my dark and stormy night, I chimed in on the Facebook thread with something banal like “only an idiot would use the Oxford comma.” This thread had already been dicey and it only got worse. People being snotty and saying well at Harvard they use it or don’t use it (I forget which). Others responding that then you went to a stupid school. Really babyish. But I, obviously, agreed with the don’t-use-it-crowd. I guess I was a little overly assertive in my views that maybe it was a north vs south thing (kidding, I didn’t really say that), so it was good that this was on the internet and not in a real room with the real people who might have slapped me. But I was so angry that might have been possible.
Who acts like this? I like to write grey. Others prefer gray. I don’t want to hit them. But the Oxford comma is on a whole different level. Back to my fights… My cousin and I agreed to disagree (but obviously she was still wrong). I went to work and told this story to my colleague. Crazy as it seems, he ALWAYS uses the Oxford comma. WHAAAAAAAA?? And we got into a little heated debate. He felt it clarified a sentence. I felt it was stupid, antiquated and traditional in a bad way. He basically told me to grow up. I responded as any adult grammarian would and said F*@# YOU!
Oxford Dictionaries states that “The Oxford comma is also known as the ‘serial comma’.”
I would never be a serial comma user.