1708. The Oxford Comma

Even though Aneliese was American and Quentin was British they managed to forge a relationship that spanned across the great Atlantic Ocean, and they married. The marriage was made in heaven, although heaven had omitted one important factor: Analiese used the Oxford Comma and Quentin didn’t.

For those who don’t give much of a hoot about what the Oxford Comma is, it is the comma that precedes the final “and” in a list. For example: The flag is red, white, and blue. That’s what Aneliese would write. Quentin would write: The flag is red, white and blue (without the second comma).

For each academic tome that Aneliese produced to prove her point, Quentin would provide another. The discussion thundered throughout their marriage, throughout the births of their six children, throughout retirement and venerable age. Eventually they both died. Their grown children planned the tombstone inscription:

Aneliese and Quentin, loved parents of Tom, Maggie, Jenny, Ernie, Zach, and Lucy.
Aneliese and Quentin, loved parents of Tom, Maggie, Jenny, Ernie, Zach and Lucy.
Aneliese and Quentin, loved parents of Tom, Maggie, Jenny, Ernie, Zach, and Lucy.
Aneliese and Quentin, loved parents of Tom, Maggie, Jenny, Ernie, Zach and Lucy.
Aneliese and Quentin, loved parents of Tom, Maggie, Jenny, Ernie, Zach, and Lucy.

The tombstone awaits. Discussion rages.

34 thoughts on “1708. The Oxford Comma

    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      I knew a teacher who was “dismissed” (she resigned but we all know she was “dismissed”) for not using Oxford Commas in her students’ reports. Personally I use it only when it is ambiguous.

      Reply
      1. nananoyz

        An attorney friend told me once that an Oxford comma could make the difference in how the contents mentioned in a will were distributed. So, I always use them, just in case.

        Reply
  1. badfinger20

    I learned about that damn comma during college. In high school we did not use it. I use it now because a professor drilled it into our heads…I wasn’t the only one.

    “Aneliese and Quentin, loving parents” Now they can save money and be happy!

    Reply
    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      Of course, what wasn’t said in the story was that Aneliese eventually murdered Quentin over that comma. I’ve never used it – although there’s an extremely dirty sentence that illustrates its necessity.

      Reply

An opportunity for garrulity!

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