Writing for Business

Jun 9 2009   10:09PM GMT

The Oxford Comma (AKA the serial comma)

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Tags:
typing Which is correct?
Ethical hacking is similar to penetration testing, intrusion _________________.
a. testing, and red teaming
b. testing and red teaming

Answer: a. or b., depending on guidelines followed.

Explanation:
A comma before a conjunction is sometimes called the Oxford comma or the serial comma. According to AP style, the Oxford comma should only be used when required for clarity, not in a simple list.

AskOxford explains the derivation of the Oxford comma. They say it’s optional — well, they would, wouldn’t they.

One of the most common arguments in favor of the Oxford comma is that leaving it out can sometimes cause ambiguity but including it will never impair meaning.

If your writing is supposed to follow any standard guideline, check to see what the rule is. Otherwise, whether you use the Oxford comma or not, the important thing is to be consistent.

1  Comment on this Post

 
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  • sridharneelakantaatgmailcom
    When I was in high school in the 80s, we used the Grammar book written by Wren & Martin (we follow British English). That was and is still the Bible or Quran for English Grammar in India. According to that book, a comma before an "and" is not required and also is not allowed. Of course Wren & Martin wrote their book in the early 1990s :-)
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