The Serial Comma

Lovely post on the serial comma or the Oxford comma: the placement of a comma before the coordinating conjunction at the end of a list.

However amusing the post and image, however, my inner grammar nazi – who lurks in my unconscious wearing full Victorian frock coat, top hat and mutton chop whiskers so large various forms of wildlife have taken up residence – balks at it. It’s just wrong he hisses at me: it’s American, it’s lazy, it’s unnecessary.

Surely the context make any ambiguity clear; and, if not, a bit of shuffling of the word order would resolve any ambiguity. Why should we invite “the strippers, Hitler and Stalin” when we could invite “Hitler, Stalin and the strippers”?


Courtesy of Sasha by way of Alan May on Facebook, we came across this lovely literary nugget this morning:

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4 thoughts on “The Serial Comma

  1. I’m not a fan of the Oxford comma, unless it’s necessary for the sake of clarity. However, requiring its use does take the decision out of the hands (and keyboards) of writers and editors. Given the sad state of professional writing these days, that’s not a bad thing.


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