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Is it better to use the Oxford comma than to leave it out?
Yes 92%  92%  [ 36 ]
No 8%  8%  [ 3 ]
Total votes: 39
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 Post subject: The Oxford Comma
PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 7:40 am 
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Evil Democrat
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[In the interim period during the mods' locking of our favorite CC threads (</3), I'm going to be doing my best to kickstart some discussions on less-analyzed subjects. Most of these issues (though not this one) are arguments/positions I haven't fully decided my opinion on and I'd love to see some good discussion on both sides.]

An Oxford comma is the last comma in a list ("one, two, and three") which some people feel ought to be omitted. I believe that the Oxford comma adds clarity and consistency, since all the other list elements are separated by commas. For those of you who prefer to skip it (BLAIRE -_-): why?

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 Post subject: Re: The Oxford Comma
PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 11:03 am 
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The Oxford comma creates a stylish visual consistency and is plainly necessary in some cases. If you don't agree with me, you can take it up with my editors, Rob Lowe and God.

(To be fair, it's frequently unnecessary and it can cause confusion in sentences with parenthetical phrases, like "Please tell that to Meg, Rob's mom, and her hairstylist." Are there three people, or just two (Rob's mom Meg and her hairstylist)? But you should not write sentences like that. There are loads of other unambiguous phrasings. "Please tell that to Rob's mom Meg and her hairstylist." "Please tell that to Meg (Rob's mom) and her hairstylist." "Please tell that to Meg - that is, Rob's mom - and her hairstylist." This is much simpler to fix than the problem in my second sentence.)

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 Post subject: Re: The Oxford Comma
PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 12:30 pm 
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I know not this "leverage" of which you speak.
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I enjoy that you two are arguing for clarity, the real reason for punctuation, not because, "it's duh roolz."

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 Post subject: Re: The Oxford Comma
PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 2:51 pm 
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Is now cool
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Lol I saw this and I was like "NO I MUST CRUSH THE OXFORD COMMA WHEREVER IT APPEARS" and then clicked to see me name.

Well played bae. Well played.

In actuality though it's just ugly and stupid and makes sentences cluttered. Basically all the con arguments here
http://m.mentalfloss.com/article.php?id=33637


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 Post subject: Re: The Oxford Comma
PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 3:40 pm 
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I think the Oxford comma tends to result in more clarity, for the reasons HSU and MSD already stated. Having commas after every item in the list also looks more consistent and maintains the rhythm of the sentence. Leaving out the Oxford comma visually groups the last two items together instead of keeping them separate like all the others. In instances when there are three items but one could be mistaken for a parenthetical phrase, like MSD's example (if it was actually talking about three people) or the last example in the Mental Floss article, reordering the list would be even clearer than leaving out the Oxford comma: "Please tell that to Rob's mom, her hairstylist, and Meg."

Plus, I'm generally biased toward anything that has to do with Oxford.

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 Post subject: Re: The Oxford Comma
PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 6:57 pm 
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Also, the problem of parentheticals is caused by using parentheticals in lists at all, not by using the Oxford comma.

"Those at the ceremony were the commodore, the donor of the cup, Mr. Smith, the fleet captain, and Mr. Jones."
"Those at the ceremony were the commodore, the donor of the cup, Mr. Smith, the fleet captain and Mr. Jones."

Same problem. If you use a parenthetical in a list, demarcate it with something other than commas (like, parentheses). Otherwise, you have the potential for ambiguity regardless of whether you use the Oxford comma. The DA is not unique.

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Abe bimuí bithúo dousí abe - "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free"

COG 2016 generics-only sourcebook - NCFCA/Stoa (thread)
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 Post subject: Re: The Oxford Comma
PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 9:23 pm 
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In addition to what's already been said in favor of the Oxford comma, I like it because it better represents the rhythm of pauses in spoken lists. Leaving it out seems to suggest that the last two items in the list break the rhythm of pauses otherwise determined by commas.

This is also why I can't stand it when people write "x not y" rather than "x, not y". There's a natural verbal pause in "I'm a doctor, not a magician" that makes "I'm a doctor not a magician" seem mechanical and awkward. I'm not sure whether this could also be considered an Oxford comma.

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 Post subject: Re: The Oxford Comma
PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2015 3:19 am 
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One can construct sentences that are ambiguous on one side of this debate or the other, but The Apologist nails the real reason why it's better.

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 Post subject: Re: The Oxford Comma
PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2015 12:25 pm 
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Question, under the aforementioned reasoning, why would the Oxford Comma not be applied to when only to items are listed? Example: The cake, and cookies are fresh.

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 Post subject: Re: The Oxford Comma
PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2015 12:39 pm 
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Hammy wrote:
Question, under the aforementioned reasoning, why would the Oxford Comma not be applied to when only to items are listed? Example: The cake, and cookies are fresh.

There is no natural pause in a two-item series, and the extra comma provides no extra clarity.

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 Post subject: Re: The Oxford Comma
PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2015 12:59 pm 
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Mr Glasses wrote:
Hammy wrote:
Question, under the aforementioned reasoning, why would the Oxford Comma not be applied to when only to items are listed? Example: The cake, and cookies are fresh.

There is no natural pause in a two-item series, and the extra comma provides no extra clarity.

Natural pause? As dictated by what?

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 Post subject: Re: The Oxford Comma
PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2015 3:03 pm 
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By how we actually speak.

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 Post subject: Re: The Oxford Comma
PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2015 8:19 pm 
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013 wrote:
By how we actually speak.

But how does that change when you have three or more items to list? There isn't a natural pause there.

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 Post subject: Re: The Oxford Comma
PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2015 1:34 am 
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Yas. I love the Oxford Comma.
That's all, haha.


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 Post subject: Re: The Oxford Comma
PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2015 1:43 am 
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People are talking about ambiguity in this sentence or that sentence, but the ambiguity isn't from the comma or lack of a comma. The ambiguity is from the sentence itself.

See, the rule is that in lists, there's no need for the comma, because you just pause there anyway. The main argument against the Oxford comma that I've heard is that it's redundant. The rule is that you mentally add a comma into that slot rather than actually typing (or writing) it. Which means that either way, there is supposed to be a pause there. The ambiguity exists in the sentences, not in the comma (or lack thereof).

Therefore, I support the Oxford comma, not because it clears up ambiguity, but because it removes extra work from the reader. When I'm reading, I pause when I see a comma. When someone makes a list without the Oxford comma, I have to reread the sentence a few times before I realize that there was supposed to be a comma there.

(It is worth noting, however, that the ambiguities listed with the Oxford comma would not be fixed by removing the Oxford comma, since the lack of a comma is supposed to have the same functionality as the comma.)

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