Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Oxford Comma

I've been seeing a lot of posts and things from writers and editors that make me question reality.  The one that bugs me the most is the sentences missing the Oxford comma.

What's that, you say?  I'm so glad you asked!

Whenever an author writes about three things in a row, the first two should have commas after them.  It's that simple.  But more and more I'm seeing just the first item with the comma, and the second comma missing.  If you don't use that second comma, then the last two items are considered to be together, or part of the first item.


Here's an example:

I had eggs, milk, and toast.  

So they had three separate things.

Without the comma:

I had eggs, milk and toast.  

Thus the milk was ON the toast, because they're paired together.  Yuck.


Another example:

Specially marked tables are reserved for disabled, elderly, and pregnant women.

Without the comma, you have:
Specially marked tables are reserved for disabled, elderly and pregnant women.
Yikes.  Elderly pregnant women?  See the difference?


And one more:

My passengers included skunks, James, and Susan.

Three different things--skunks and James and Susan.

Without the comma:

My passengers included skunks, James and Susan.

This time, you have skunks named James and Susan.  Do they stink?


See why the Oxford comma is MORE than necessary?

Have a great week!
SweetTale Books

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