14 October 2016

This 'n' That

There was a time when I bemoaned the use of the Oxford comma. Oh, sure, like many my age, I was raised to use it. Yet upon entering the writing world in my twenties, I was finally free. Free to not use this optional comma. Free to assert myself in my exclusion of this tiny punctuation mark.

Let me pause for a moment, because I fear there may be at least one person reading who is unfamiliar with the Oxford, or serial, comma. The Oxford comma is "placed immediately before the coordinating conjunction" (eg, and, or) in a series of three or more items. For example, the following sentence includes an Oxford comma (bolded):
I went to the store to get apples, eggs, and Oreos.
Come to think of it, that might actually be my current grocery list. Anyway, this next sentence excludes the Oxford comma:
I went to the store to get apples, eggs and Oreos.
In spite of my temporary rebellion against the Oxford comma, over the past few years I've grown to appreciate it again. Lists without it seem unpolished and hurried. After all, consider the confusion that can be caused by not using it:
At the store, I ran into my friend, an Elvis impersonator and a botanist.
Wait a minute, my friend is neither an Elvis impersonator nor a botanist! You see, this sentence should read,
At the store, I ran into my friend, an Elvis impersonator, and a botanist.
Otherwise, you might think I have some rather strange friends! (For the record, I've never met an Elvis impersonator or a botanist in the any store, which is kind of surprising considering the years I spent in Los Angeles and Chicago.)

Last I checked, there were no spiritual implications to using or not using the Oxford comma; however, I think I've seen it used in the NASB translation. The only logical conclusion, then, is that saved people use the Oxford comma. (Calm down, that was sarcasm.)

Okay, now that you've had your grammar lesson for the day, why not brew a cup of tea, slip on some fuzzy socks, sit back, and enjoy your week in review (kind of):
  • John MacArthur on the clear light of Scripture.
  • Were America's Founding Fathers Christian?
  • Well, I suppose if you want to be thrilled to extend your partnership with LifeWay, that's your business. Just don't count on getting book shrines bigger than Beth Moore's.
  • Here's your weekly dose of adorable (HT to Elizabeth Prata).
  • Please keep your kids away from those screens!
  • Hey, this is just like what they're trying to shill to all of us ladies...stickers in our Bible!
  • Part 3 of John MacArthur's short series, "The Reality of the Resurrection":


  1. Amen, sister. I considered commenting about my own dissatisfaction with Nabisco's Oreo-Swedish Fish idea, but this topic is much more practical. I've always thought that when the Oxford comma was missing, the writer had made a mistake. Without that comma, it appears that the last two items/ideas are grouped together and not distinct. What do you think about inserting "that" preceding an idea (like what I've done in the third sentence of this comment)? Is there a rule for "that?"

  2. A very educational post! Thank you! I'm guessing I didn't need to use an Oxford comma in those last two sentences. I do have a comma phobia.



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