(I know, I know, I missed Random Picture Sunday. You’ll get double the random photos next week!)
This grammar post was going to wait until later this week, until this happened:
Clearly, this topic couldn’t wait.
All right, ladies and gents. Today’s topic (if you couldn’t tell) is the comma. And not just any comma: the Oxford (or serial) comma.
Here’s how AP Style (my go-to for everything grammar) defines using commas in a series:
Use commas to separate elements in a series, but do not put a comma before the conjunction in a simple series: The flag is red, white and blue. He would nominate Tom, Dick or Harry.
Put a comma before the concluding conjunction in a series, however, if an integral element of the series requires a conjunction: I had orange juice, toast, and ham and eggs for breakfast.
Use a comma also before the concluding conjunction in a complex series of phrases: The main points to consider are whether the athletes are skillful enough to compete, whether they have the stamina to endure the training, and whether they have the proper mental attitude.
AP Style doesn’t use the Oxford comma, which is the second comma in a series. (“The flag is red, white, and blue.”)
Some people get a little testy when you neglect the Oxford comma, though.
(I got this photo from the Oxford comma Facebook page, which is definitely worth a look. Other people love commas as much as I do!)
As I said in the Facebook screenshot above, there isn’t a clear-cut answer to the Oxford comma vs. AP Style debate. It really depends on the context. When I’m writing an article or a press release, I always stick with AP Style and nix the second comma. When I’m doing general writing and think omitting that comma could cause potential confusion, I add it in. Use your judgment, and if you land a neato writing job (which I’d like to have sometime soon), research which style your employer uses and stick to that.
So Kaitlynn: You and Justin are both right.
Whether you’re an AP Style fanatic or a disciple of the Oxford comma, you’ll agree that correctly placed commas (hint: pretty much anywhere the sentence naturally pauses) are muy importante. Case in point:
(But really, don’t club baby seals. Not cool.)
Happy Tuesday, grammar lovelies!