Oxford Comma ~ Yes or No?

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Oxford Comma?

Yes!
63
93%
No!
5
7%
 
Total votes: 68

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Oxford Comma ~ Yes or No?

Post by Scott » 09 Oct 2015, 08:05

And... vote!

Warning, all votes include an exclamation point.
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Post by ALynnPowers » 09 Oct 2015, 08:10

Yes!

I had lunch with my mom, a doctor and a prostitute.

My mom is NOT a doctor!
Last edited by ALynnPowers on 09 Oct 2015, 08:23, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Scott » 09 Oct 2015, 08:14

I'm convinced.
"That virtue we appreciate is as much ours as another's. We see so much only as we possess." - Henry David Thoreau

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Post by ALynnPowers » 09 Oct 2015, 08:23

Glad I could be of service. ;)

-- 09 Oct 2015, 22:23 --

Wow, that had some underlying meaning I hadn't originally intended. :shock:
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Post by gali » 09 Oct 2015, 08:25

Voted as well! 8)
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Post by ALynnPowers » 09 Oct 2015, 08:30

Well, I know what gali voted for! Guess her mom IS a doctor. ;)
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Post by gali » 09 Oct 2015, 08:50

ALynnPowers wrote:Well, I know what gali voted for! Guess her mom IS a doctor. ;)
:P
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Post by bookowlie » 09 Oct 2015, 08:59

ALynnPowers wrote:Yes!

I had lunch with my mom, a doctor and a prostitute.

My mom is NOT a doctor!
Exactly! I used a similar example in a previous post about this topic.
1) I went to dinner with my boys, John and James.
2) I went to dinner with my boys, John, and James.

#1 is incorrect since John and James are not the names of the boys, but are two other people.

-- 09 Oct 2015, 10:33 --

I should explain this differently. #1 is not technically incorrect, but the meaning is changed. I am copying and pasting my previous comment where I explained it a little better.

(From the Oxford Comma Explained topic):
Here's a good example why I will always use the Oxford/Harvard/serial comma.

I went to the movies with the kids, John, and James.
vs.
I went to the movies with the kids, John and James.

Without the Oxford comma, the meaning is changed and it sounds like John and James are the kids' names. The actual meaning of the sentence is that John, James, and the kids went to the movies with you.
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Post by ALynnPowers » 09 Oct 2015, 10:52

Yeah, exactly. It makes it have the same exact structure as an appositive.

Also, in honor of Scott's new avatar, I have made a new photo, to bring the Facebook stalking onto the forums. :D Enjoy!

Image
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Post by gali » 09 Oct 2015, 11:08

bookowlie wrote:
ALynnPowers wrote:Yes!

I had lunch with my mom, a doctor and a prostitute.

My mom is NOT a doctor!
Exactly! I used a similar example in a previous post about this topic.
1) I went to dinner with my boys, John and James.
2) I went to dinner with my boys, John, and James.

#1 is incorrect since John and James are not the names of the boys, but are two other people.

-- 09 Oct 2015, 10:33 --

I should explain this differently. #1 is not technically incorrect, but the meaning is changed. I am copying and pasting my previous comment where I explained it a little better.

(From the Oxford Comma Explained topic):
Here's a good example why I will always use the Oxford/Harvard/serial comma.

I went to the movies with the kids, John, and James.
vs.
I went to the movies with the kids, John and James.

Without the Oxford comma, the meaning is changed and it sounds like John and James are the kids' names. The actual meaning of the sentence is that John, James, and the kids went to the movies with you.
When the meaning isn't clear, one should obviously use it.
In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you." (Mortimer J. Adler)

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Post by moderntimes » 09 Oct 2015, 22:30

gali correctly explains the "Oxford comma" -- and let me please set the record straight here... I'm quoting from the actual genuine Oxford University Writing Guide here. "University of Oxford Style Guide" 2014.

The Oxford comma is NOT the comma before the "and" in a list of equal items, such as:

I bought red, yellow, and blue balloons. (incorrect)
I bought red, yellow and blue balloons. (correct)

But the actual Oxford comma is not the above first example. And in fact, the omission of the comma in that equal-item list is the CORRECT way per the actual Oxford guide. So according to the Oxford guide, the 2nd sentence is correct.

Here's the REAL use of the Oxford comma:

I ate fish and chips, bread and jam, and ice cream.

This is the exact example from the actual Oxford manual. As you can see, "fish and chips" and "bread and jam" are paired items which go together and the comma after "chips" and after "jam" are "Oxford commas" and are used to make the sentence clear.

I too was unclear on the Oxford comma and thought that it was a comma used in the balloon example. I was wrong, as are most people. My publisher sent me this guide when I started working with their editing staff to prepare the galley proofs of my books. Anyway...
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Post by gali » 09 Oct 2015, 23:15

moderntimes wrote:gali correctly explains the "Oxford comma" -- and let me please set the record straight here... I'm quoting from the actual genuine Oxford University Writing Guide here. "University of Oxford Style Guide" 2014.

The Oxford comma is NOT the comma before the "and" in a list of equal items, such as:

I bought red, yellow, and blue balloons. (incorrect)
I bought red, yellow and blue balloons. (correct)

But the actual Oxford comma is not the above first example. And in fact, the omission of the comma in that equal-item list is the CORRECT way per the actual Oxford guide. So according to the Oxford guide, the 2nd sentence is correct.

Here's the REAL use of the Oxford comma:

I ate fish and chips, bread and jam, and ice cream.

This is the exact example from the actual Oxford manual. As you can see, "fish and chips" and "bread and jam" are paired items which go together and the comma after "chips" and after "jam" are "Oxford commas" and are used to make the sentence clear.

I too was unclear on the Oxford comma and thought that it was a comma used in the balloon example. I was wrong, as are most people. My publisher sent me this guide when I started working with their editing staff to prepare the galley proofs of my books. Anyway...
:text-goodpost:
In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you." (Mortimer J. Adler)

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Post by ALynnPowers » 10 Oct 2015, 00:08

It's a good thing no one listens to me. I would hate for people to be doing thing "incorrectly" :roll:
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Post by moderntimes » 10 Oct 2015, 08:39

Personally I prefer using the non-Oxford comma in lists of equal things, like "I bought red, blue, and green balloons."

And this was accepted use in the US for a long time, whereas the comma prior to the "and" in the equal-thing list was not acceptable standard in the UK. Back when I wrote for a newspaper (it was so long ago that we used papyrus, ha ha) we would use that above comma.

But this has fallen out of grace over the years and now this comma is omitted in general equal lists. In my own books I've had to go back thru the novels and sadly erase that wayward comma.

A note to newbie writers: If you write for a professional publication or perhaps your stories, essays, or novels are professionally published, you WILL be required to adhere to that organization's style guide. In the US, most publications use the Chicago Manual of Style. In this guide you'll find that the above use of a comma prior to the "and" in equal lists is not allowed any more. Sigh.

For example, each newspaper has its own style guide which lists proper spelling of local street names, like "Federal Boulevard" and not "Federal Avenue". Also, when I worked for the KC Star, our style guide emphasized short sentences and paragraphs, simple English sentences and not overly complex construction. Which made sense, as one of the contributors to writing that guide was a guy who worked for the Star previously, name of E. Hemingway.

Likewise, when I sold my 3 novels this past July to a small professional publisher, they emailed me the actual "real" Oxford University style guide for which some elements of punctuation were the rule, some were not, since in the UK they use single quotes first, then double quotes, whereas we in the US reverse that.

Anyway, in that guide was the REAL explanation of the Oxford comma, which definitely surprised me. For ages, as I said, I'd thought that the Oxford comma was the inclusion (or not) of the comma prior to "and" in equal lists. But lo and behold, that comma is NOT used, and the Oxford comma itself is included for unequal lists, such as the meal example in my prior post. A general rule of thumb is this: no comma prior to the "and" unless there will be confusion without it. Several examples above indicate why the comma is often needed. That's the actual Oxford comma.

This isn't to say that I prefer omitting the comma. I myself prefer its inclusion, as do some here. But hey, what do I know? I do however know that if your work is professionally edited, prepare to omit that darned non-Oxford comma. Them's the rules nowadays.

If of course you're self-publishing or you're a famous "arthur" then you can do whatever. Otherwise, if you're professionally published you'll have to adhere to that publisher's style guide. Them's the other rules. So if you place your story or novel, be sure to inquire about such things up front. They'll usually send you to the Chicago Manual of Style, which is a terrific resource anyway, one you should have in print on your shelf or e-shelf.
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Post by maddie_huang » 13 Oct 2015, 09:44

I really like this topic and thought I would share some insight. To be honest, I did not know what an Oxford comma meant before I started law school. Since law school, I learned that an Oxford comma can be helpful for legal writing, as to signal the direction of a sentence.

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