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I was always taught that an ‘and’ should never, never be preceded by a comma. It’s bad form, on a par with various types of apostrophe abuse. But over and over recently, in the highly wordy academic papers I’ve been reading, I see “, and”. It looks wrong to me.

It turns out that this is a serial comma or even better, an  Oxford comma, with its own rules and debates and everything. It seems that the journalistic approach is to discourage the serial comma, whereas academic use makes it OK – after all, anything to avoid ambiguity, or so you would hope. This explains why it’s coming up a lot recently, but I still have trouble approving of it. So there you go, punctuation fact of the day.

Vampire Weekend – Oxford Comma


One Response

  1. hey Simone…
    i’ve had this conversation before…while working on my Master’s, actually. being ‘merican, I was taught to use the serial comma. Here’s a good explanation of when it might just be handy to use said Oxford Comma.


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