Monday, December 25, 2017
Using the serial comma, also known as the Oxford comma, can avoid ambiguity and litigation. At the Journal of the Missouri Bar, Vol. 73 (July/August 2017), Professor Douglas Abrams relates the unfortunate story of a statute that failed to include the comma and the ensuing litigation that cost Maine’s Oakhurst Dairy about $1.7 million.
The lesson: When you have three or more elements in a series, place a comma immediately before the conjunction that separates the last of the elements.
Example from thewritepractice.com:
Amanda found herself in the Winnebago with her ex-boyfriend, an herbalist and a pet detective.
Amanda found herself in the Winnebago with her ex-boyfriend, an herbalist, and a pet detective.
How many people are accompanying Amanda? With the Oxford comma, the answer is three. Without it, the answer is one.
You can read more here.