In Defense of the Oxford Comma

The Oxford, or serial, comma is the comma inserted before and or or in a list of three or more items. I was against it for a long time; however, after reading The Oxford Comma: Hart’s Rules on the Oxford Dictionary Blog and thinking the matter over, I have come to see it as necessary. To avoid confusion as in the sentence “the bishops of Winchester, Salisbury, Bristol, and Bath and Wells,”where “the absence of the comma after Bristol would generate ambiguity: is the link between Bristol and Bath rather than Bath and Wells.” [1]. The rule is be consistent, use the Oxford Comma, or use it not, just be consistent about it. If one is feeling especially anti-comma one can simple form one’s lists as follows. He speaks English and Latin and Spanish and Italian and French and a little German and some Hebrew and his friend knows English and French and Greek and German and Anglo-Saxon and Esperanto and Welsh. [This is actually the way lists were formed in Latin: Caesar et Augustus et Nero et Severus facti sunt principes {excuse my poor Latin}].


The Oxford Comma: Hart’s Rules.