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Friday, July 6, 2012

Oxford commas? Let common sense prevail | David Marsh | Comment is free |

I agree with the conclusion of this article:
In short, it's as unwise to say always use an Oxford comma as it is to say never use one. The best rule is common sense.
That said, grammatically speaking, it's never incorrect to include the so-called Oxford comma. But sometimes, as the article notes, including it in some sentences might be as confusing and misleading as not including it in other sentences.

Thus, the wise advise above. Use common sense based on the particular list and order of list items in each sentence.

Here's the general rule for the serial (or Oxford) comma in Garbl's Editorial Style Manual:
First, in a series of three or more terms with a single conjunction, use a comma after each term: She opened the closet, grabbed a coat, and picked up an umbrella. In a complex series of phrases, the serial comma before the final conjunction aids readability. In a simple series, the comma is optional before the conjunction: The van is economical, roomy and dependable. Also, put a comma before the final conjunction in a series if an integral element of the series needs a conjunction: He likes folk, rock, and rhythm and blues. Don't put a comma before the first item in a series or after the and in a series. See listssemicolon.
This article is featured in today's (July 6) Garbl's Style: Write Choices -- available at the Editorial Style tab above and by free email subscription.

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