The Oxford comma is sometimes extremely useful. Use it when it’s useful, but remember: the goal is good, clear, unambiguous communication. If it helps, use it. If it hinders, don’t. (and this post gives some excellent examples for cases where it helps and ones where it hinders.)
The Oxford comma – also known as the Harvard comma, the serial comma, and the what the hell is wrong with you people why can’t you just get a life – provokes strong opinions.
It’s the difference between these two sentences:
1a) I ordered bacon, eggs and beans.
1b) I ordered bacon, eggs, and beans.
The Oxford comma is the last one, before the “and” in version 1b.
Should it be there?
Some people say no (loudly): it looks fussy and slows the sentence down. The “and” is quite enough to separate the last two items in the list.
Other people say yes (even more loudly): it’s helpful for clarity. Well, maybe not in this case, but it’s more important when the individual items in a list are grammatically more complex, especially if they contain “and”s. Compare:
2a) They ordered bacon and beans, chips and eggs and toast.
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