The school year has officially begun again, which means that I’ll be surrounded by piles of papers soon. Of course, this is actually metaphorical because all of the assignments for my classes are turned in digitally. It’s wonderful because I type far faster than I can write by hand, can more easily edit papers, and don’t have to carry around piles of papers. Though there always is a certain appeal that comes with physical papers and not staring at a screen for hours. But I digress.
Even though words are such an important part of my life, I wouldn’t consider myself a serious grammarian. Yes, I do mentally correct other people’s grammar while they speak sometimes and can’t ignore the apostrophes and awkward phrasing in writing, but I’m not OCD about it.
However, there are a few grammatical rules and techniques that do evoke some passionate feelings. One of these is the Oxford comma.
If you’re not familiar with the term, it’s the use of a comma before the “and” in a list of three or more items. For example: “In my spare time, I like to read, write, and play video games.”
While it’s perfectly acceptable not to use that comma, I really like it. Partly because I like commas and partly because without the Oxford comma, things can get confusing (and a bit hilarious).
For example: “I like to spend time with the dogs, Ashley, and Heather.”
It’s clear enough that Ashley and Heather are not my dogs, right?
But if, “I like to spend time with the dogs, Ashley and Heather,” it’s not so clear. It feels like Ashley and Heather could be the dogs. And while I’ve seen some hilarious memes about how much stranger this can get, it shows what sort of confusion can arise.
Now, this doesn’t mean that I’ll judge you for not using the Oxford comma (unless you’re one of my middle schoolers since I’ll have the urge to change it in all of your papers). But you won’t catch me skipping out on the Oxford comma.
Do you use the Oxford comma? Do you feel very passionate about any grammar rules?