The Oxford Comma Debate
Guest Post from Jocelyn Blore
Proper use of punctuation used to be the territory of editors and lonely grammar enthusiasts. One punctuation mark, however, has been catapulted into the popular consciousness with articles by The Economist, NPR, Mental Floss, and others, not to mention a hit song by Vampire Weekend. I’m speaking of course about the Oxford comma.
Quick test: In a hypothetical Oscar acceptance speech to the Academy, which would be correct?
A: “I’d like to thank my parents, Bill Hudson and Goldie Hawn.”
B: “I’d like to thank my parents, Bill Hudson, and Goldie Hawn.”
The answer is: It depends. If you’re Kate Hudson and your parents really are Bill Hudson and Goldie Hawn, ‘A’ would be appropriate; if, however, you’re thanking four people (your parents in addition to the actors), ‘B’ would be the correct response.
Although the debate rages on, I am on Team Oxford Comma — confident in my belief that the Oxford comma is essential in clarifying meaning. Detractors, on the other hand, attest that the Oxford comma is unnecessary and redundant.
The following infographic examines both camps, as well as where mainstream publications are drawing lines. Which side are you on?
A Word on St. Valentine’s Day
The origins of St. Valentine’s Day are a bit mysterious, and it is probable that the several different potential origins all factor into what we know today as Valentine’s Day. However, the general consensus is that St. Valentine’s day originated primarily from the story of Christian Saint Valentinus who would secretly officiate weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to be married under Roman rule.(1)
Within many of the different Valentine’s Day origins, giving notes and cards is a common theme. Even with the rise of communications technology and rising doubt about whether cards are “so over,” we still like to think that valentines bring an amount sincerity and fun to the holiday. Enjoy and share these fun ones we’ve put together for you!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
What are your favorite Valentine’s Day traditions?
(1) “How Valentine’s Day Works,” How Stuff Works.com, Found on 09 Feb. 2013, Found at: http://people.howstuffworks.com/culture-traditions/holidays/valentine1.htm
(2) Bender, Jonathon. “On Valentine’s Day, do we still need Hallmark?” The Washington Post, (10 Feb. 2012) Found on: 09 Feb. 2013, Found at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/on-valentines-day-do-we-still-need-hallmark/2012/02/08/gIQAsaKP4Q_story.html
A semicolon is a punctuation mark used to connect two thoughts or ideas which are somehow similar. Generally, each thought or idea could be used as its own sentence, but the flow of the work may be interrupted by the short, choppy sentences.
Semicolons are a little archaic and are not necessary in modern writing. Even in formal writing, they may be replaced by a comma or a period. However, if they are used properly, semicolons can add a pleasing continuity to your work.
When reading out loud, we pause for semicolons much the same way we pause for a comma.
Punctuation jokes! Can you think of any others?
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True or false?
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