I have battled commas since first holding a pencil. Their entire purpose is to help the speaker (the person reading words and verbalizing them) sound great by indicating where to pause.
Commas also help the reader by breaking the sentence into parts, making it easier to understand. “There are powerboats, sailboats, and watercraft at the marina.” As opposed to: “There are powerboats sailboats and watercraft at the marina.” The reader might think that “powerboats sailboats” is one thing. Meaning that “powerboats” is a verb like a “blue sailboat.” We can also see that the comma is helpful for the speaker. “There are powerboats. (Short pause) Sailboats. (Short pause) And watercraft at the marina.”
But there is a problem. Readers and speakers naturally pause at the word “and.” A comma is unnecessary, but we place a comma there for no logical reason. It turns out that these specific commas have a name, “Oxford commas.” During my education, I knew that sometimes we needed to have a comma after “and,” but not always. I never understood why until I recently came across this article:
It turns out that other people also feel this punctuation is redundant. Do I agree with this article? You bet! Get rid of all commas! Tear that key off the keyboard! Well, that will not happen. But it would be nice to stop using Oxford commas because we understand how to use the word “and.”
Is there hope? Umm… Our language has evolved, and an example is that we have the new term “googled.” Imagine saying this word in 1980? People would think you were talking about google eyeglasses. (Those glasses that have silly springs around the lens holes.)
It is now becoming acceptable to eliminate Oxford commas. This follows the trend of having one space after a period instead of two. However, grammar monsters still require Oxford commas and will leave endless bad reviews if they are not present.
Usually, society grows in a positive direction, and I hope the Oxford comma becomes a footnote in literary history. I hope this happens in my lifetime, and my four readers will read a liberated blog.
You’re the best -Bill
November 09, 2022
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