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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Pausing to appreciate the Oxford comma

Opinions editor Andrew Goldstein consults the AP Stylebook regarding the Oxford comma. In honor of National Punctuation Day The Statesman’s editorial board discusses the controversy over the Oxford comma. ARACELY JIMENEZ/THE STATESMAN

Sept. 24, is National Punctuation Day. As a journalist and writer, I try to see the value in all forms of punctuation. I use semi-colons; sometimes I use them well, even though Kurt Vonnegut said, “They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.” I sprinkle en and em dashes throughout my stories – when I think they will work.

I am most passionate about the Oxford comma though. It is honestly a travesty that it is not included in AP style. There have literally been lawsuits over the comma. Ask any writer what they think about the comma and prepare for a rant.

Here’s what the editors at The Statesman think about the Oxford comma:

Kunal Kohli, managing editor – “It took me weeks to teach myself how NOT to use the Oxford comma. I’d like those weeks back.”

Katarina Delgado, managing editor – “It’s not the comma that matters it’s the sentence. #deep”

Mahreen Khan, news editor – “The Oxford comma is every writer’s lifeblood. Coming into journalism, for me, meant sacrificing my obsession with it and finding another means of survival. Em dashes, I’m talking to you. On the real, though, reteaching myself where commas are accepted and not – and mentally adjusting to that shift each day, is an unnecessary battle. The comma belongs, and writing makes sense because of it.”

Rebecca Liebson, assistant news editor – “I think it just makes sense. Why establish a pattern with commas only to change things up right before the and?”

Rawson Jahan, assistant news editor – “I don’t have any thoughts on the Oxford comma. I do use it often though.”

Stacey Slavutsky, copy chief – “The Oxford comma brings sense into a currently senseless world.”

Tess Stepakoff, assistant copy chief – “Heck yeah, AP style should have the Oxford comma!”

Tim Oakes, sports editor – “Oxford commas? Nah. Less commas is more.”

Mike Adams, assistant sports editor – “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world the Oxford comma wasn’t necessary for coherent journalism.”

Gregory Zarb, assistant sports editor – “Oh yeah, this thing. Well considering I still have no clue what it is, I probably still use them. But it is okay because I have made it this far with using those God-forsaken things.”

Kayla McKiski, arts & entertainment editor – “The Oxford comma makes sentences more symmetrical. It’s way more aesthetically pleasing. Get with the times, AP Style.”

Joseph Konig, assistant arts & entertainment editor – “I never went to Oxford so I’m not really sure what it is.”

Aracely Jimenez, multimedia editor – “The orthography of a language is meant to ease understanding. That being said, I live for the Oxford comma.”

Luis Ruiz Dominguez, assistant multimedia editor – “I don’t use it anymore, ever. It bothers me when people use it because it’s useless, unnecessary, annoying, and serves no purpose.”

While some of us disagree with AP about punctuation and some of us disagree with each other, it is a pleasure to know that many of us put thought into the language of the written word. It brings me excitement, hope *insert comma here* and optimism for the future.

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    Sarah BattagliaSep 25, 2017 at 9:42 am

    From the Grammarly Blog, an example of the necessity of the Oxford comma:

    “Omitting it (the comma) can sometimes cause some strange misunderstandings.

    I love my parents, Lady Gaga and Humpty Dumpty.

    Without the Oxford comma, the sentence above could be interpreted as stating that you love your parents, and your parents are Lady Gaga and Humpty Dumpty. Here’s the same sentence with the Oxford comma:

    I love my parents, Lady Gaga, and Humpty Dumpty.”

    Nevertheless, I personally omit the Oxford comma unless in a situation like that above. I’m an old-school AP gal, I guess.