If you haven’t been using the Oxford comma for all of your comma needs then you should start. An optional comma before the word “and” at the end of a list is straight-up baller. It is a style that immediately sets you apart from those who don’t use it. You wanna be amateur hour? You wanna play for the JV squad? Go ahead and disregard the Oxford comma. But if you really want to be a player, start spitting out those bad boys like Kendrick Lamar spits hot fire.
This controversial extra comma is called the “Oxford comma” because traditionally printers at Oxford University Press have used it. It has also been referred to as the “Harvard comma” because Harvard University Press also uses it, but no one really calls it that for the primary reason that Harvard is in New England and all New England sports fans suck. It can also be referred to as the “serial comma” but true ballers never call it that. That’s like calling spaghetti, “spag.”
It is not an issue of which way is correct and which way is wrong. Both are acceptable. (Except in the U.K., where there is a distinct anti-Oxford comma bias which is weird because Oxford University is in England but what are you gonna do? The British also gave us The Spice Girls and enjoy a food called “spotted dick.”) You can choose to use the Oxford comma or choose not to use the Oxford comma; either way is an acceptable form of grammar. It is not a grammar issue. It is an aesthetic issue. It is an artistic choice. You can choose to be plain and boring and not use the Oxford comma or you can choose to be cool and bad-ass and use it.
The use of the Oxford comma is primarily for clarity’s sake as it matches best with the cadence of normal speech patterns, but really its importance is based in its slickness. The Oxford comma just looks and feels cooler which is crucial when composing a sentence. For example, look at this sentence below that does not make use of the comma from Oxford:
* The top five basketball movies of all time are White Men Can’t Jump, The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh, Fast Break, The Air Up There starring Kevin Bacon and Teen Wolf.
Meh. Now check it out with the Oxford comma:
* The top five basketball movies of all time are White Men Can’t Jump, The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh, Fast Break, The Air Up There starring Kevin Bacon, and Teen Wolf.
Boom! That sentence is baller as hell. It is instantly classed up like a mofo.
Having style takes effort. You have to put in the work. Apply the Oxford comma as much as possible. Try not to forget because the more you do it, the more it becomes a part of you. Again, you can choose not to use it and that is fine; just know that every time you omit that extra comma you are losing some serious style points. So here’s a little motivational fact to keep you on track with using the Oxford comma: It’s so cool that Vampire Weekend released a song called “Oxford Comma.” Yeah…Vampire Weekend.
A lot of people don’t use the Oxford comma, not because they don’t know about it but because they are scared to reveal their true baller self. Don’t be afraid of that additional comma. Go ahead. Throw down that final comma. Throw it down with swagger. Show off the fact that you now ball with the best and use the Oxford comma. You should use it, bold it, italicize it, and underline it.
Just like I did right now.