The Oxford Comma

We all make mistakes, but it would appear that worrying about errors, such as the “grocers’/grocer’s apostrophe”, is now viewed as unimportant. Surely good punctuation and grammar is an essential element of communicating effectively?

The Oxford comma is included before the final “and” or “or” in lists of three or more items, but is optional. To the untrained eye, the Oxford comma might look like a grammar mistake. However, Grammarly, sums it up beautifully:

“…whether or not you use the Oxford comma is generally up to you. However, omitting it can sometimes cause some strange misunderstandings.

I love my parents, Lady Gaga and Humpty Dumpty.

Without the Oxford comma, the sentence above could be interpreted as stating that you love your parents, and your parents are Lady Gaga and Humpty Dumpty. Here’s the same sentence with the Oxford comma

I love my parents, Lady Gaga, and Humpty Dumpty.”

If you want to improve your basic writing skills, I’d recommend John Foster’s ‘Writing Skills for Public Relations: Style and Technique for Mainstream and Social Media’. It’s a bit old school, but full of great advice.

Or, if it’s just a case of becoming word blind at times, Dean Evans’s book – “Don’t Trust Your Spell Check: Pro Proofreading Tactics And Tests To Eliminate Embarrassing Writing Errors” – would also make for a good bedtime read!

Indeed (I’m not looking for a job!) offers some handy tips here.

This picture sits on my office wall. Bought for me by a friend who knows me well!

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