Christian Ross

The Oxford Comma

Like you, I’ve been contemplating the use of Oxford commas quite a bit recently.

Some of it is due to my 2011 summer obsession of Vampire Weekend and their homage to it (NSFW: language) and some of it has just been due to how I feel when I actually write something out.

For those who aren’t hip to the comma-scene these days, the Oxford comma – aka the Serial comma – is that tricky little guy that comes last in your list just before the AND or the OR in a sentence.

The AP Stylebook treats the Oxford comma as you would a hideous beast and vows to never allow it to see the light of day. Think “Sloth” Fratelli, the monster from Goonies. Alternatively, the Chicago Manual of Style preaches it from the mountain top as if it were a double rainbow.

I remember being taught as a kid that the last comma in a list wasn’t necessary except for when it was — clear as mud. So for the most part of my life I have subscribed to the fact that I don’t really need it which would make me an AP-man for my beliefs. Recently however, the non-implementation of the Oxford comma has started to bother me more and more and I think I am ready to switch it up for a while.

I suppose the best way to explain my flip-flopping is by example, read this bad boy and make sense of it:

My breakfast of choice consists of milk, bacon and eggs and hash browns.

If we break it down, my list could either be read as:
1. milk
2. bacon
3. eggs and hash browns

1. milk
2. bacon and eggs
3. hash browns

I’d prefer to take the uncertainty out of it and I believe that single little character might just do the trick.

My breakfast of choice consists of milk, bacon and eggs, and hash browns.

I realize that I could also reorder my list but what if I eat my foods in a certain order? Then I would just be a liar.

Oxford comma, friend or foe? Comment here or take it to the streets.

6 responses to “The Oxford Comma”

  1. Melanie says:

    My breakfast of choice consists of milk, bacon, eggs and hash browns. That’s how I’d write it.

  2. Jay says:

    Your reasoning is exactly my argument for the Oxford. I made the switch several years ago and have been happily commaing ever since. About Bacon and eggs: they always go together; they should never be separated.

  3. Chris says:

    Was the fact that Melanie commented supportive, cute, or super-cute? All of the above.

    Oxford comma FTW.

  4. James Michie says:

    I never use the Oxford comma. It’s unnecessary as it is used to replace the ‘and’. Why then would you use it before ‘and’; it would be like writing “tea and coffee and and sugar”.

    Because “bacon and eggs” is a phrase I would simply separate my list with semi-colons instead:

    My breakfast of choice consists of: milk; bacon and eggs; hash browns.

  5. Christian says:

    Nice to see you all taking a stance one way or the other on this important topic. Tomorrow, the legalization of marijuana and abolishment of the death penalty.

    @Melanie – I think you should be a little more forthcoming on what your breakfasts usually consist of: cold pizza, beer, and cigarettes.

    @Jay – My thoughts exactly. Along with bacon & burgers, bacon & cookies, bacon & vegetables, and just about anything else in the fridge.

    @Chris – I’m not sure about her commenting as a showing of support but I know she’s got the super-cute part down.

    @James – I see here that you’re far and above my level in the grammatical discussion arena. Because you make a sensible argument, this one’s for you: I’m headed to the baseball game this evening and I plan on eating copious amounts of hot dogs, Cracker Jacks and funnel cakes.

    Thanks all for weighing in. From the current vote count, we can’t declare a unanimous winner in the Oxford comma argument but I think we can all come to a consensus that I’m pretty awesome. As are each of you.

  6. Me'mere says:

    You are all wrong. Christian’s breakfast has always consisted of Pop Tarts and Dr. Pepper; at least as a youngster. I should know, I bought the stuff.

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