THE OXFORD COMMA: THE SPLICE OF LIFE.

29, Feb 2020THE OXFORD COMMA: THE SPLICE OF LIFE.

There has been a discussion going on at length regarding the punctuation mark comma. The punctuation mark is confused about whether they should use it or not. If you are yet unaware of this debate going on upon the Oxford Comma you would get out of this dilemma after reading the article.

WHAT IS THE OXFORD COMMA?

Oxford comma does not represent a brand as it does in terms of clothing labeled with the same name rather it is something which has to do with punctuation. However, there is a group of people who are in favor of using it and the others who oppose this idea. Oxford comma is an additional comma that is applied before the absolute conjunction in a series.

The comma is specifically used to separate items if they are more than two because in terms of two items you can simply separate them using ‘and’ but a whole list is separated by a ‘comma’. If you use the comma as a symbol of pause then you are not using it accurately because the appropriate way to use a comma is to represent the separation of items in a sentence.

EXAMPLE:

  1. I have a pencil and a pen.

The following sentence has only two items therefore we have used ‘and’ to separate them.

  1. I have a pencil, a pen, and a notebook.

This sentence had more than two items hence we have separated them with an Oxford comma.

Language is not something you can relate to mathematics and its formulae. There are two perspectives the grammar which are considered as the science of a language and style which is the art of a language. As in the case of Comma, there are two viewpoints regarding its use. Oxford is used before the ‘and’, ‘or’ to make the sentence clear. One is that a comma is applicable for the consistent list of items. Another perspective says that it should be applicable for the list with 3 or more items as shown in example 2 above.

WHY USE OXFORD COMMA?

According to the ones who love to use Oxford comma they get confused in certain situations as shown in the example below.

 



Example:

  1. I’ll send you the money for registration, the art competition, and the trip.

In this case, if you focus on the placement of the comma you might perceive it like there is a discussion going on about getting registered to an art competition. This is not what you intend to say let us now see what difference an Oxford comma can make.

  1. I’ll send you the money for registration, the art competition, and the trip.

This makes it quite evident that you are not talking about the registration to the art competition this is the reason why Oxford comma users do not want to omit it.

THE HISTORY OF THE OXFORD COMMA

The Oxford comma gained prominence because it was used by the largest university press that has ever existed The Oxford University Press. British use the Oxford comma more than the Americans and this is the reason why it is more commonly used in the UK. Many language users have different opinions regarding the use of the Oxford comma.

 One school of thought is that adding one more comma does not make any difference rather it just makes the context clear. Another doctrine believes that adding more commas is not necessary. It is possible to add a comma when you are confused as considering the O’Connor v. Oakhurst Dairy lawsuit of 2014 that revolved upon the confusion related to the serial comma.

THE OXFORD COMMA IN POPULAR STYLE GUIDES

There are 2 major styles about the commas let’s have a look to them:

  1. THE OXFORD COMMA ACCORDING TO THE CHICAGO MANUAL OF STYLE:

According to the Chicago Manual of style which is considered as a trustworthy guide for literature and academic based writings, comma removes ambiguity. However, in some cases, it might fail to give a clear sense of a sentence.

EXAMPLE:

  1. I send the document to my father, the lawyer, and the director of the FBI.

In this case, one might perceive that the document has been sent to the father who is a president.

  1. I sent the document to my father as well as to the lawyer and the director of the FBI.

Or

  1. I sent the document to the lawyer, the director of the FBI, and my father.

This situation works when the people are aware of the difference between both terms lawyer and director of FBI and that the lawyer is not the director of the FBI.

 

THE OXFORD COMMA ACCORDING TO THE AP STYLEBOOK:

The AP stylebook is something as important as something sacred to the online writers and journalists say that the Oxford comma should not be used unless it is for eliminating any ambiguity. This thinking was developed because newspapers had space concerns they faced while adding text to the layout. By eliminating commas they could prevent a story from running into another column or page. However, AP has this opinion also that comma if applied before the final conjunction can prevent ambiguities.

OXFORD COMMAS: THE CHOICE IS YOURS

In case of professional and academic writing, one must seek guidance from a style guide and follow the Oxford comma in the content. Some guides invoke the writer to use AP style but should use the Oxford comma. While writing anything personal or for business purposes you are free to use the comma all you have to make sure that people might comment. Most style guides ask you to use it however it is difficult to criticize the product that has been written with attentiveness and consistency.