To use, or not to use, the Oxford Comma

While critiquing a friend’s work, I questioned her comma usage so checked the definition of the Oxford Comma. Here’s what I found. “The Oxford comma is used before the words “and” or “or” in a list of three or more things. Also known as the serial comma, its aficionados say it clarifies sentences in which things are listed.”

Grammarly’s website notes, “the sentences ‘I love my parents, Lady Gaga and Humpty Dumpty’ and ‘I love my parents, Lady Gaga, and Humpty Dumpty’ are different. Without a comma, it looks like the parents in question are Lady Gaga and Humpty Dumpty.”

They give two more examples. “Among those interviewed were Merle Haggard’s two ex-wives, Kris Kristofferson and Robert Duval.” And, “This book is dedicated to my parents, Ann Rand and God.” Bold claims.

Besides the definition, there are Oxford Comma memes (that’s one at top), a song with that title by the singing group, Vampire Weekend, whose lyrics can’t be quoted here, and a law case where the lack of the comma may win Maine dairy farm truck drivers millions in overtime pay. The written statute says, “workers who do not get overtime are those involved in, “the canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment – no Oxford comma  – or distribution of perishable foods.”

Their lawyer responded, “It’s unclear. Is it packing for shipment or distribution, or is it packing for shipment, or distribution? Driver distributors aren’t on the list of people who don’t get overtime because there’s no comma.” He filed a class action suit representing 75 drivers seeking $10 million in unpaid overtime.

Correct punctuation matters!

Share any example you enjoy where punctuation, or its lack, changed what is written or said, and have fun.

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