Author Topic: the Oxford comma  (Read 813 times)

Offline Natalia

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the Oxford comma
« on: February 05, 2017, 09:54:43 AM »
I would like to ask you a question concerning the use of Oxfrod comma. I usually use a comma in a list of items.

When I write a thesis, I suppose that I have to be consistent.

So, let's say that I want to refer to an author who writes that:

In many cases compounds have different semantics from phrases. Take the phrases black bird, dark room and greenhouse. Compare their meanings with the compounds blackbird, dark room and greenhouse.

Then, if I want to paraphrase the text, should I put a comma before 'and'?

For example:
Take the phrases black bird, dark room, and greenhouse and compare their meanings with the compounds blackbird, dark room, and greenhouse.

Incidentally, I have noted that many authors vary in their use of a comma withing one piece of writing.

Offline Daniel

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Re: the Oxford comma
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2017, 10:27:31 AM »
People disagree about the "Oxford comma", so do what you want. I personally use it when the items are longer, but omit it when they're shorter, but there isn't a specific rule for it. The potential ambiguity of not using it is exaggerated in my opinion, so I don't think it matters. Others do. I doubt anyone would notice one way or the other in your writing, so it's up to you!
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Offline Natalia

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Re: the Oxford comma
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2017, 12:01:53 PM »
In his book Practical English Usage, Michael Swan writes that in British English, a comma is not usually used with and between the last two items unless these are long.

Examples:

I went to Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Germany.

Payment can be made by cash, cheque or credit card.
I spent yesterday playing cricket, listening to jazz records, and talking about the meaning of life.

'Longer items' probably means phrases?


In one article, I noted one thing which seems strange to me - comma separating two items:

Other semantic relationships that are commonly found with phrasal stress are temporal, locative, and causative, the latter of which is usually paraphrased as ‘made of’, or ‘created by’.

Is it really necessary to put a comma before 'or' in the sentence above?


I have also read that if 'and' or 'or' appears more than once in a sentence, it is fine to use a comma, for example:

I like to paint, sing and dance, and cook.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2017, 12:05:16 PM by Natalia »

Offline Daniel

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Re: the Oxford comma
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2017, 12:52:01 PM »
Basically, it's optional, so add it if you think there should be a pause. But some people have strong feelings about the Oxford comma, so the usual rule about doing whatever your instructor/editor/publisher says applies.
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Offline Natalia

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Re: the Oxford comma
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2017, 01:57:31 AM »
OK. Thank you.

Offline Thismare89

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Re: the Oxford comma
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2017, 06:59:41 AM »
I think that so.