December 8, 2011
Grammar Lesson: The Oxford Comma

By the time you’ve graduated from High School or at least achieved some supplemental degree, you should know how to use a comma. But is a comma really necessary in all circumstances? Analyze these two sentences.

I enjoy writing, literature and storytelling.

I enjoy writing, literature, and storytelling.

The difference is the Oxford Comma, otherwise known as the serial comma, but is it necessary? The truth is, it is not necessary to use according to most publishers. However, it can come in handy—for instance, when listing things that include the word AND as part of an object instead of connecting the final two pieces of the item. Now take a moment to analyze these two sentences.

I study Japanese, fiction and publishing, and history.

I study Japanese, fiction and publishing and history.

It can be a little confusing, can’t it? Your best bet, when in doubt, is to use the comma. It’s your friend, it brings clarity to your sentences, and most of all it gives a sense of professionalism to your work that publishers are looking for.

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