the Oxford Comma

Quick question for you.  Which of these statements is grammatically correct?

I went to the store and bought apples, pears and grapes.

I went to the store and bought apples, pears, and grapes.

Did you see the error?  Can you even tell the difference between the two sentences? Does one seem more right (rightier) than the other?  See, here is the troubling thing;  technically, both of those sentences are correct.  This is a discussion about commas, and when to use them. The first example doesn’t put a comma after ‘pears’.  The second sentence does.  Again, both of these are technically correct.

Do you have a preference?  If not, you are about to.  The second sentence is an example of the ‘Oxford Comma‘.  I am your guide to all things English and grammar related.  This is why I need to tell you to ALWAYS use the Oxford comma.  Always.  It looks better, and it flows better.

Anyone who does not use the Oxford comma is an asshole.   No, wait…  let’s practice our new skills.  Anyone who doesn’t use the Oxford comma is either a rapist, arsonist, or pedophile.

You are thinking to yourself  “why in the world would anyone blog about grammar?  Why, especially, would America’s fearless writer on race, music, and politics care about grammar?”

I will tell you why.  As my reader, you are entitled to the secrets to not looking like an idiot. Being a reader here means you are finding out about trends and issues six months before the rest of society catches on.  It is true.  It is so damn true I considered naming the site ‘I told you so‘.  I want you to appear literate.  By using grammar correctly, it gives you the opportunity to have a voice in society.  Specifically, as a writer, editor, and someone who hires… I see a TON of bad grammar.  When I am reading something, if I start seeing errors, it throws the whole premise into consideration.

This is the second in a series for your benefit.  What was the first one?  Glad you asked.  It is right here, and it was about a-holes who use quotation marks incorrectly.

Another example of this is the wealth of threats I received after writing this piece.  I posted nearly every comment sent to me, and almost all of them were critical. There is no censorship of people’s feedback to me. The angrier, the better… especially if people can articulate themselves. There isn’t a whole lot of that in people who defend racism and historical inaccuracies. I actually truly and really enjoy spirited intellectual discussion. Do you think I am wrong?  Excellent!  I probably am.

However, many of these threatening rebuttals were so poorly written that I simply couldn’t post them.  I feared people would think it was me in disguise making fun of southerners.  I don’t need to do that, they do that for themselves.  Do you get it?  If I am wrong, explain why.  Better yet, prove it.  Generally speaking, grammar is a critical part of insulting someone’s character properly.


  • thanks to Katwha for the grammar check!  Oh, the irony