Championing the Serial (Oxford) Comma

Category: On Writing Posted: October 1st, 2016

When I was at school I was taught it was simply flat out pure evil to write sentences such as this: “The cat was happy as it had eaten, slept, and danced about the place.”

Apparently, the correct way to do write this is: “The was happy as it had eaten, slept and danced about the place.”

Since becoming a copywriter I’ve chanced upon the serial comma (also known, rather poshly, as the Oxford comma) which champions the cause of the final comma in the run of sentences.

I’ve since taken this up pretty liberally as it seems to help most sentences flow properly. Consequently, I’m not going around eyeing up all other copy I see which does (or does not) feature this unusual element to the English language.

It’s incredibly pedantic, of course, but I’m sure a huge debate would ensure between a group of copywriters about whether this is accurate or not.

What’s telling about it all, of course, is your average member of the public simply won’t care. You can have a committee meeting to debate these things, but copy is often just skimmed over by consumers and whether there’s a missing comma or not, it’s somewhat irrelevant.

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