grammar nerd alert

I love the Oxford comma. Also called the serial comma, it's that last comma that goes before the conjunction in a list. So I like exclamation points, I enjoy parentheses, I can deal with semi-colons, (see, there it is, right there!!!) but I love the Oxford comma! 

When I wax nostalgic about my college education, senior-level English students sitting around outside, surrounded by beautiful Tennessee hills, trees stretching out above us, warm breezes tossing our hair into our faces, I remember conversations about the Oxford comma. Not debates, but conversations. To debate, you need dissent, and we had none. We were all in love with that final comma that puts you in the right frame of mind for the end of a sentence. 

Not everyone agrees though. Many feel that the lovely Oxford comma is unnecessary, a superfluous flourish that wastes important typography energy that could be better spent elsewhere. Where I work, they favor APA style, which does not use the serial comma. It kills me, but at work, I leave out that last comma, which makes me feel sullen and incomplete. 

Good writing is about clarity. It's about rhythm. It's about expression and logic and space. It's about using words, but it's also about using the space between the words. Using the white space. Taking a breath. That's what a good comma does. It reminds you to stop talking for a split second and take a breath. Think about what you're saying. Think about what you're thinking. And then you can move on. Commas make writing more zen. What's not to like about that?