Comma Knowledge This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

February 4, 2013
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The Oxford comma, the Queen's comma, the serial comma. Call it what you may, but it's practical, vital, and a gift to the English language.

See how it was used there? No, still can't find it? Well, it's the last comma in the second sentence. The job of the Oxford comma is to separate the penultimate entity from the final. More simply, it is used for clarification.

Despite its British-sounding title, the Oxford comma is more widely used in America. As standard as usage is on our side of the pond, The New York Times woefully excludes my favorite comma from its pages.

Not only is the dearth of the Oxford comma deplorable, but it can also often be confusing. In a tweet that I came across, the tweeter pointed out that the addition of the Oxford comma would rectify the sentence “This book is dedicated to my parents, Maureen Johnson and David Bowie,” making it clear that the inscription is to four people as opposed to two. The final comma makes it clear that the names after the first comma are not descriptive of “my parents.” Admittedly, a love child between young adult novelist Maureen Johnson and rock legend David Bowie would be the best of both worlds.

Is it really that hard? One extra curved little tick mark could save you decades of embarrassment from the small community of punctuation-philes like me.

But toll the bells, for my beloved comma may be just a grammatical anecdote to tell my great-grandchildren when they ask, wide-eyed, what my favorite deceased punctuation mark is.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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Serena_the_Squid said...
Feb. 13, 2013 at 1:54 am
Interesting, well-written, and funny!  ^ You've convinced me, see Oxford comma above. :P But seriously, thanks for writing this!
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