The Oxford Comma Debate Illustrated


The Oxford comma, also known as the serial comma, has been a source of controversy among the transcendentally nerdy for some time now. It’s been called the Oxford comma because the influential Oxford University Press has insisted on it. This is  still the case today, although rumors to the contrary abounded last year (the PR department of Oxford University merely stopped insisting on its use and it caused quite a hubbub).

So what is the Oxford comma? It’s a comma placed before the conjunction in a list. If you wrote:

I like gravy, apples, and lava.

The Oxford comma is the one between apples and and.

The problem is simple. Some say the comma is a good idea because it adds clarity in certain situations, and others think it’s needless. Influential style guides take varying sides, which means you can use it if like or not since there’s no agreement even among experts.

The infographic below, discovered on the Grammar Girl’s site, will fill you in on the details.

The Oxford Comma


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About the Author

Brian WaskoBrian is the founder and president of One of his passions is to teach young people how to write better.View all posts by Brian Wasko

  1. Michael Ann
    Michael Ann04-12-2016

    I’m a fan of the Oxford comma. It makes my brain happy.

  2. Rhonda Barfield
    Rhonda Barfield03-28-2013

    Cool! I use the Oxford comma but didn’t know why. Now I do.

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