Oxford Comma

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I mean, you can fixate on whatever you want to, of course, but you're being rather distracted from the actual debate by focusing on the decorations.

I don't think I am focusing on the decoration. I am taking the example, inserting a noun that makes more sense for the argument they are making (which seemed to be what you were suggesting), and pointing out it still is understandable without the oxford comma. And I will concede there are cases where the oxford comma can clarify ambiguity. I don't see that as an argument for always using it. I think the better argument is people should consider using it when there is ambiguity in its absence (particularly if the context of the sentence doesn't eradicate that ambiguity-------unless of course ambiguity is the intent).
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
My feeling is if people want to use the oxford comma in every instance, they are free to do so. I think there is a better argument to be made to use it when it helps avoid ambiguity when context doesn't make the meaning clear (but I also have to admit, I like ambiguity in writing).

On the other hand, why not just use the Oxford comma when ... you have a list of three or more things and you are putting it before the "and" in the last item? And omit it when you simply have an appositive.

We invited the strippers, your mom, and your dad. (Oxford Comma)
We invited the strippers, your mom and your dad. (appositive, further defining the strippers)
Well, if the Panda is moving very suddenly and not firing a weapon, you should probably write "The panda eats, shoots and leaves". Still no need for an oxford comma

No.

In this case, you can do the following-

The panda eats, shoots, and leaves. (A panda bear (1) enjoys some food, (2) shoots ... maybe a gun, and (3) leaves the scene.)

The panda eats shoots and leaves. (A panda bear eats (1) shoots and (2) leaves.)

The panda eats, shoots and leaves. (This one makes close to no sense, and I have difficulty parsing it.)
 

The panda eats, shoots and leaves. (This one makes close to no sense.)

This one makes absolute sense. There is not ambiguity there at all. I don't see why this would be confusing to anyone: he eats, then he shoots and leaves. I think the intent is pretty obvious. You aren't going to mistake it for him eating shoots and leaves. Shoots and leaves only makes sense as a case of the panda shooting then leaving.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
This one makes absolute sense. There is not ambiguity there at all. I don't see why this would be confusing to anyone: he eats, then he shoots and leaves. I think the intent is pretty obvious. You aren't going to mistake it for him eating shoots and leaves. Shoots and leaves only makes sense as a case of the panda shooting then leaving.

Okay, I'll bite.

Commas have rules, you agree with that? So what is the comma doing in the example you provided? Be specific, and feel free to use fancy words.

EDIT- I'm genuinely baffled, and worried I might be forgetting some use in my dotage.
 
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J.Quondam

CR 1/8
For me, the argument for always using an Oxford comma is just consistency. I personally prefer always having it there, rather than figuring out for myself whether or not it actually dissolves any ambiguity for someone else.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
The thing that always bothered me about this example is Panda's can't shoot guns. So there is never going to be a person who reads that sentence (provided we are not talking about an anthropomorphic panda), and misreads A as B. Also that sentence without the Oxford comma is "The panda eats, shoots and leaves", so even if it is an anthropomorphic panda, there isn't much ambiguity in the sentence without the oxford comma. My feeling is if people want to use the oxford comma in every instance, they are free to do so. I think there is a better argument to be made to use it when it helps avoid ambiguity when context doesn't make the meaning clear (but I also have to admit, I like ambiguity in writing).
Maybe it was a bow and arrow. :p
 



Okay, I'll bite.

Commas have rules, you agree with that? So what is the comma doing in the example you provided? Be specific, and feel free to use fancy words.

I am not pretending to be an expert on punctuation. So no fancy words. But my understanding is this still effectively qualifies as a list, and with lists you don't have to use the oxford comma (maybe I am missing some grammatical nuance where a list of actions like this doesn't qualify and there is some requirement that it needs a comma, but this definitely strikes me as a kind of sentence I have seen plenty of time, and would be fully understandable to me with just the one comma.

According to grammarly for example both:

"Julie loves ice cream, books, and kittens."

and

"Julie loves ice cream, books and kittens."

are correct.

and it lists:

"I cleaned the house and garage, raked the lawn, and took out the garbage."

or

"I cleaned the house and garage, raked the lawn and took out the garbage."

As both being correct.

Now if what I am suggesting doesn't fall under the rule, fair enough I can copt to that being technically wrong (though I would say it is a rather stupid rule in my opinion as I can easily decipher the meaning with the one comma there to separate eats so it isn't confused with the other two to create ambiguous meaning)
 


Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I am not pretending to be an expert on punctuation. So no fancy words.

Here's the thing- commas have specific uses. For example, to set off an appositive phrase. Or with introductory prepositional phrases (either discretionary or mandatory depending on length). Or certain uses for quotations. Commas have specific uses.

But my understanding is this still effectively qualifies as a list, and with lists you don't have to use the oxford comma (maybe I am missing some grammatical nuance where a list of actions like this doesn't qualify and there is some requirement that it needs a comma, but this definitely strikes me as a kind of sentence I have seen plenty of time, and would be fully understandable to me with just the one comma.

EDITED so it's a standard list without the Oxford comma.

According to grammarly for example both:

"Julie loves ice cream, books, and kittens."

Oxford comma. All of these are nouns- the objects of Julie's love.

and

"Julie loves ice cream, books and kittens."

are correct.

This is the same list as above, without the Oxford comma. Here, there is no confusion because (unlike some of the examples) there isn't an issue with the modifier, or with it being a possible appositive phrase.

and it lists:

"I cleaned the house and garage, raked the lawn, and took out the garbage."

This is a list too, with an Oxford comma. Let me show you:
I (subject) -
(1) cleaned the house and garage.
(2) raked the lawn.
(3) took out the garbage.

or

"I cleaned the house and garage, raked the lawn and took out the garbage."

As both being correct.

Same, but without the Oxford comma. Very little chance of misunderstanding here.

Now if what I am suggesting doesn't fall under the rule, fair enough I can copt to that being technically wrong (though I would say it is a rather stupid rule in my opinion as I can easily decipher the meaning with the one comma there to separate eats so it isn't confused with the other two to create ambiguous meaning)

This isn't technically wrong. If this is a list, then:
The panda eats, shoots and leaves.

This would be a verb list without an Oxford comma...
The panda (subject)-
(1) eats.
(2) shoots.
(3) leaves.

Unfortunately, this becomes confusing because .... "shoots" and "leaves" are not just verbs, they are nouns. When there is an Oxford comma, you know that this is a verb list. When there isn't, and you see a panda at the beginning, this doesn't look like a list; instead, it looks like a sentence fragment that was incorrectly prepared and either has a misplaced and accidental comma, or is missing some words for an appositive phrase (such as "food" after eats). The idea that this is a correct list in this example is vanishingly small.

This is actually a great example of why you use the Oxford (aka serial) comma. When you use it, you know that you have a list. When you don't, like the circumstances here, it looks way off. I honestly couldn't parse it correctly because it didn't make sense as a list with an omitted serial comma.
 
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RealAlHazred

Frumious Flumph
I've heard about a furor regarding the Oxford comma, and I, I just, like, I don't understand! When did we decide it was okay for Oxford to make decisions for the rest of us?!? We fought a whole war to get England and English out of America, and now we're just going to let them come in, and, and tell us how to talk? I don't speak English, I speak American! 'MERICA! YEAH!
 

This is actually a great example of why you use the Oxford (aka serial) comma. When you use it, you know that you have a list. When you don't, like the circumstances here, it looks way off. I honestly couldn't parse it correctly because it didn't make sense as a list with an omitted serial comma.

I just don't see how you could interpret: The panda eats, shoots and leaves

as anything other than he eats, then shoots, then leaves. The only difference between this sentence and the one about the garage is two of the words can also be nouns. But it is pretty clear with the comma coming after eats, that this is a list of actions, not an action then a sentence fragment. The sentence doesn't really make much sense if you read it as

-The panda eats
-shoots (noun) and leaves (noun)

And by the way, I said before, if the oxford comma is going to remove ambiguity, I think that is a good argument to use it in that instance. I just don't think this use of the one comma is particularly confusing at all, and I don't think you should use the oxford comma all the time. And my own personal stance on the oxford comma is: I leave it to the editor I am working. I have no investment in the oxford comma, or not using it (or mixing it up). I go with whatever my editor personally prefers. I think it is more a matter of personal taste (which is why I respect whatever direction my editor wants to go on it). If I am writing in emails, on forums or in documents that won't be edited by someone, I use it if feels right for that sentence. But I don't get too hung up on it.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I just don't see how you could interpret: The panda eats, shoots and leaves
There are jokes about a panda going into a bar and pulling out a gun. There's the Banksy image of a panda holding guns. World of Warcraft has a panda race than can shoot bows and arrows, and guns. And I'm sure there are other instances of panda's with guns in entertainment and story. There's an action game with a panda that has a gatling gun. Without the comma, could you tell whether it's talking about a real panda or one of the ones I just mentioned.

Here's the bar joke.

“A panda walks into a bar. The bartender says “”hey, we don’t serve pandas here.””

But the panda says “”Just give me something to eat, and then I’ll go.””

The bartender says “”Oh, all right.”” So the panda eats the food that the bartender gives him.

So the bartender says, “”OK, now you have to leave.””

But the panda says “”Oh no I don’t.”” and he pulls out a gun!!! and pow! pow! shoots up the bar.

The Panda starts to leave. The bartender says “”Hey! you can’t just leave after shooting at us!””

the panda says “”Oh, yes I can. Look me up in the dictionary.””

So the panda leaves and the bartender gets out a dictionary and looks up panda.

It says: “”Panda – eats shoots and leaves.”” ”
 


Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I've heard about a furor regarding the Oxford comma, and I, I just, like, I don't understand! When did we decide it was okay for Oxford to make decisions for the rest of us?!? We fought a whole war to get England and English out of America, and now we're just going to let them come in, and, and tell us how to talk? I don't speak English, I speak American! 'MERICA! YEAH!
You say on a British website!
 

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