Contrary to the belief of many people, grammar is not a rigid set of rules that one follows to excel in a language. Instead, it is a room of possibilities where you can make decisions based on the context, genre, audience, and much more.
Oxford comma, also known as a serial comma, is just one of many grammatical tools that open endless doors of opportunity for writers. Although it is controversial among grammarians to date, it’s just another symbol of the wonders of grammar.
The Oxford comma is not strictly enforced in grammatical rules. However, its absence can cause confusion and a lack of substance in your content. Although its uses vary in different writing style guides, every writer must know its importance.
If you are unsure about the uses of the Oxford comma, here are five reasons to learn more about the Oxford comma today.
One of the biggest fears of a content creator is to lead their readers to confusion. Of course, even if you have the most devoted readers, they will get agitated by confusion. That is why you must keep things distinguished and clear for them to enjoy and understand your content.
As a writer, you have many jobs to take care of. However, the biggest one is to convince your reader to keep going through your content. Unfortunately, confused sentences will not help your case. The great news is that an Oxford comma can help you kill confusion.
For example, think of a sentence like “the party was swarming with drunk people, you, and your boyfriend.” Now, this sentence tells the reader that three types of people were at the party; the drunk ones, you, and your boyfriend.
However, removing the Oxford comma gives you an entirely different meaning. “The party was swarming with drunk people, you and your boyfriend.” As you can see, the absence of an Oxford comma redefines the noun, which makes you and your boyfriend the drunk people at the party.
There is so much competition in the field of writing. The readers have thousands of resources they can explore to find what they are looking for. They may look for a perfect match by skimming through headlines, subtexts, and previews.
As a writer, you aim to make your content cohesive and scannable. Luckily, an Oxford comma can help you in this endeavor. While bulleted lists may often overwhelm the readers, an Oxford comma is a perfect punctuation tool to get the reader’s attention.
An Oxford comma can help the readers easily pick out the relevant areas of your content. Naturally, when the readers encounter multiple commas in a row, they realize it’s a list. This list will give them the freedom to pick relevant information while scanning your content.
All languages can get confusing, sometimes even for native speakers. That is one of many reasons readers enjoy works with more clarity. It helps them enjoy and learn from the content instead of wondering what each sentence means.
The purpose of writing is not to want people to think they understand what you say. Instead, your focus as a writer must be to engage and connect with them. Of course, it takes more than avoiding ambiguity to connect with a reader.
An Oxford comma is an essential punctuation tool that can help you add clarity to your writing. For example, if you are writing a blog on meditation, a line in the blog may be, “take a deep breath, clear your head, hold and exhale the worries out of your system’’.
The Oxford comma in this sentence creates a clear separation of each step. Therefore, a reader can be more aware of what you want to get across. Of course, you can create bulleted points, too, but an Oxford comma is the exact tool you want to use if you do not want the flow to be hindered.
A major part of writing is connecting with your reader and showing them why your creation is worth their time. As a writer, you must give equal value to every part of your creation to keep the reader engaged. That is why an Oxford comma can be your friend.
For example, if you are writing for a cleaning services company, a sentence may say, “we provide quality services for offices, homes, commercial buildings and rentals.” This sentence may indicate that you provide only three services instead of four.
However, you can write your sentence: “we provide quality services for offices, homes, commercial buildings, and rentals.” In this case, you are giving equal weightage to all services with the help of an Oxford comma.
Oxford commas, like many other punctuation marks, offer you a great service as a writer. It makes the reader stop and process every bit of information you offer. This way, you can make sure that every component of your sentence matters equally to the reader.
Many writing style guidelines emphasize the use of Oxford commas. And when you are following these guidelines, you must follow their style manuals. In such cases, you cannot be lenient about the grammatical rules.
Following these guidelines can make or break your reputation as a writer. Of course, it can also affect the chances of your work seeing the daylight if it involves publishers. However, if you are writing for fun, you can be relatively more relaxed about the guidelines.
Although many important writing style guidelines, such as Oxford University Press, American Psychological Association (APA), Chicago Manual of Style, and Modern Language Association (MLA), encourage using the Oxford comma, some styles also restrict its use.
As a writer, you must remember that the Associated Press Stylebook Guide does not appreciate using the Oxford comma. However, if you are not limited by a writing style guideline, there is no valid reason to miss out on the wonderful benefits of the Oxford comma.