Dropping the Oxford comma

According to this GalleyCat blog post, the Oxford comma has been officially dropped by Oxford University. I’ve used it for years, argued its case with unbelievers, and now it’s been read its last rites.

But what is this comma so many people have never heard of, and certainly won’t mourn? It’s the comma that takes the confusion out of lists within a sentence.

GalleyCat quotes the Oxford PR style guide to explain:  “‘As a general rule, …write ‘a, b and c’ not ‘a, b, and c’. But when a comma would assist in the meaning of the sentence or helps to resolve ambiguity, it can be used – especially where one of the items in the list is already joined by ‘and’ [for example]:  They had a choice between croissants, bacon and eggs, and muesli.’”

Personally, I like the Oxford comma. But its loss is part of our evolving language, and it does eliminate the need to explain that part of my editing process. So it can’t be all bad…can it?

4 thoughts on “Dropping the Oxford comma

  1. Justine says:

    Don’t panic. The rumours of its demise have been fabricated! It hasn’t been dropped. The OED tweeted yesterday, ‘The Oxford comma is alive and well at Oxford University Press’.

    Oxford University Press, birthplace of the Oxford comma, said that there has been no change in its century-old style, and jumped into the Twittersphere to confirm that it still follows the standard set out in “New Hart’s Rules”.

    The only explicit permission to dispense with the Oxford comma – apparently the cause of the alarm – was in a guide for university staff on writing press releases and internal communications.

    The guide has been around for several years, but evidently it was the cause of the Twitter meltdown yesterday!

      • De says:

        The rest of the world can drop it if they like, but when it helps clarify a sentence, I’ll still use it regardless of the ‘rules’.

        I don’t know about you, but I’m finding clarity in the written language is becoming a victim of social media expediency – text-speak dropping apostrophes, vowels, conjunctions and replacing letters with numbers or characters.

        Silly me. I always thought writing was about communicating.

        Love your work dragonfly 🙂

  2. dragonfly ink says:

    I agree! In the 1970s, they dropped grammar off the curriculum – and red pens on assignments were banned soon after, so as not to crush kiddys’ creativity. Progress hey?

    We may be a tech-savvy society, but perhaps our next ‘advancement’ will involve communicating in grunts around the campfire. :-/

    Thanks bella, love your work too!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s