Why Are People So Passionate About the Oxford Comma?
<Editors Note: I’m almost afraid to write about the Oxford comma for the sole reason that it might attract Grammar Nazi’s who will then point out all the grammatical errors I have in this post.>
For those that are not in “the know”, here is a definition of the Oxford Comma from Wikipedia:
The serial comma (also known as the Oxford comma or Harvard comma) is the comma used immediately before a coordinating conjunction (usually and or or, and sometimes nor) preceding the final item in a list of three or more items. For example, a list of three countries can be punctuated as either “Portugal, Spain, and France” (with the serial comma) or as “Portugal, Spain and France” (without the serial comma).
You are probably thinking that the Oxford comma is a simple grammar rule just like the thousands of other grammar rules that exist. Boy, are you mistaken. I’m about 98% sure the Oxford comma is a religious cult. It’s either you’re in or you’re out. There is no in-between. There are two types of people in this world: Those who are for the Oxford comma and idiots.
Next time you’re hanging out with semi-intellectual friends (they do need some intelligence, otherwise they will look at you like you’re the idiot), ask them their opinions on the Oxford comma. You will be amazed on how passionate people get about the Oxford comma regardless if they are for or against it. Then after that 30 minute conversation is over, ask them if there should be one space or two spaces after a period.
A quick google search brought up this article in telegraph about Owen Paterson declaring war on the Oxford comma. NPR featured an article about the Oxford comma and it generated 316 comments! The Oxford comma is serious business! You can even buy an Oxford comma t-shirt at zazzle.
I care about grammar, but I’ve never been on the “cutting edge” of grammar by any means. I’ll never understand where this passion for a comma comes from.
Just tell me which one to use.