The Oxford Comma

The heated debate over the Oxford comma has gone on for far too long. Many grammatical websites have made the error of not using the Oxford comma, such as Grammarly. Excluding the Oxford comma from select sentences can cause disarray and would have a completely different meaning without the last comma to clarify that it’s a list.

Many of the people who do not support the Oxford comma back their arguments up by involving “AP Style.” The Associated Press style does not use Oxford commas. Journalists and other opponents say that it makes the sentence look more cluttered and pretentious. Although it may seem so to them, those who agree with using the Oxford comma say that it seems as though this argument is just an excuse to oppose a grammatically correct comma.

As an example of a mishap springing from this huge debate, workers of Oakhurst Dairy sued the company for not paying them for working overtime. According to Maine’s state law, workers are paid 1.5 times their normal pay if they have worked for 40 hours or more in a week. The actual law states that companies don’t have to pay overtime for the following: “The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of:

  1. Agricultural produce;
  2. Meat and fish product; and
  3. Perishable foods” (The Write Life).

Since there is no comma before the “or,” Oakhurst Dairy argues that its workers did not have to be paid for their overtime, for they do indeed engage in distribution. However, the law had meant to regard the “packing of shipment” and “distribution” as two different matters. In the end, the court ruled in favor of the workers but the confusion that the exemption of the Oxford Comma is clear as day.  

Although the “AP Style” does not include using the Oxford comma, Oxford University Press and the Chicago Manual of Style adhere to the use of the comma. While some people say that the Oxford comma is “seemingly more cluttered and pretentious,” many researchers, students/writers in academia, and several publications use the comma for clarity and efficiency.

As the saying goes, “Work smarter, not harder” (Allen F. Morgenstern). Omitting the Oxford comma creates many complications in writing, not to mention the ambiguity. While people argue that using the Oxford comma makes the sentence seem cluttered, is it not better than having the sentence make no sense at all? It’s obviously better to include the comma instead of rewriting the sentence for clarity when omitting the comma.

Another argument against the Oxford comma is that it takes up valuable space in magazines and newspapers. Getting rid of 100 commas may save space, but most of the news now reaches people online. There is no use in “saving space” when only a select amount of people will see it.

In conclusion, the opposing argument for the Oxford comma has unnecessary complaints, and using the Oxford comma should be grammatically correct.