Should The Oxford Comma Exist?

Despite some of the negative press it has been getting lately, I’m still in favor of the (apparently lowly and unimportant) comma. It offers clarity. It offers what I refer to as “brain pause” when you’re reading. I’m sure you’ve seen the meme: Commas Save Lives, people!

commas save lives

So until Oxford declares an official death of the comma, I’ll continue to use it. And teachers will continue to teach it.  And grammar junkies will continue to unabashedly judge those who don’t use it (or use it improperly). The handy infographic below is a visual guide to using the oxford comma. It is a great little reference for your classroom or just for you! Keep reading to learn more!

Using The Oxford Comma

  • Also known as the serial comma (and less commonly, the Harvard Comma)
  • Clarifies meaning when placed before conjunctions such as “or” or “and”
  • Use in sentences with complicated lists
  • Unnecessary in sentences where your list makes sense without using it
  • Generally, the consensus is that whether or not you choose to use to oxford comma, you need to be consistent (either in the use or lack thereof)
  • While many editors still use and value the oxford comma, some do not. The NY Times, Associated Press, and The Economist are among the publications that do not use it.
  • Ironically, the Oxford University PR department doesn’t use the Oxford Comma (though the Oxford University press does)
  • If you’re in the US, you should probably use it
  • If you’re in the UK, Canada, or Australia, you can probably omit it