Who Knew Commas Could Be So Important?

A friend of mine posted this picture on Facebook and I just had to share it.

Who knew that punctuation could save lives?

And who knew that a debate on comma usage is raging among grammarians of the world? Yes, the Oxford Comma Debate is just that. One camp says – Don’t Use that Comma in a Series! while the other camps screams back – Use it! Use it! If you don’t, meaning will be lost! The Oxford Comma (also called the Harvard Comma – not sure if the name is used on different sides of the pond) will use a comma before the conjunction in a series. We wouldn’t want to lump those last items like they belong together… unless it is peanut butter and jelly, of course. What is so funny is that it is Oxford, itself, or rather the Oxford University Press (OUP) in the Style Guide that suggested that the comma be omitted.

But why? My guess is in this time of Twitter and texting, where we have to count every last character be it letter, number, punctuation or space, that comma could really add up. One comma, becomes two, then three – oh the horrors of not being able to fit that message into the character limit! Ambiguity be damned!

So the next time you go to use a comma, remember, it is not a simple matter, and it could just save Grandma’s life!


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