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I need a comma after 'toast' in 'I had eggs, toast, and orange juice.' (Punctuation -Oxford comma) Options
A cooperator
Posted: Tuesday, January 9, 2018 6:03:14 AM

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Location: Ḩāḑírah, Hadramawt, Yemen
Hi,

I was given the link of Oxford comma. I never came across such a name term in my grammar book for Michael Swan.
Fyfardens wrote:
The Oxford comma can have quite an effect on meaning.


But, you know, if we wanted to acknowledge you that we put orange juice on our toast we would have used ‘with’.

So, no difference in these two sentences:
"I had eggs, toast, and orange juice." means the same as "I had eggs, toast and orange juice.
No need to write a comma after "toast".


However, these sentences are different
I had eggs, toast, and orange juice.
I had eggs, toast with orange juice.

Whoever doesn't own what he promises to those who do not deserve must not promise it.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Tuesday, January 9, 2018 6:13:05 AM

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In that sentence, it is true.
These two sentences mean exactly the same and I would not write the comma.

I had eggs, toast, and orange juice.
I had eggs, toast and orange juice.


However, these sentences mean totally different things:
I would like to thank my parents, the Queen of England, and God.
I would like to thank my parents, the Queen of England and God.

In the first, I thank my parents and I thank the Queen and I thank God.
In the second I thank my parents - and name my parents as the Queen and God.


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
A cooperator
Posted: Tuesday, January 9, 2018 6:31:54 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 10/27/2011
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Location: Ḩāḑírah, Hadramawt, Yemen
Drag0nspeaker wrote:


However, these sentences mean totally different things:
I would like to thank my parents, the Queen of England, and God.
I would like to thank my parents, the Queen of England and God.

In the first, I thank my parents and I thank the Queen and I thank God.
In the second I thank my parents - and name my parents as the Queen and God.

Thanks a lot,
You thought the second one meant as you said since it could be rephrased as

I would like to thank my parents, the Queen of England and God.=> I would like to thank my parents, who are the Queen of England and God.

If so, then I even think that the first one could be rephrased as:
I would like to thank my parents, the Queen of England, and God.=> I would like to thank my parents, who are the Queen of England, and God.


BTW, why is it called Oxford comma? I don't know what the grammarians, including Michael Swan, call it.



Whoever doesn't own what he promises to those who do not deserve must not promise it.
Fyfardens
Posted: Tuesday, January 9, 2018 7:10:42 AM
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Just as there is confusion about its use, there is also confusion about the origin of the Oxford comma.

Aldus Manutius (also known as Aldo Manuzio) was a 15th-century Italian printer who introduced the comma as we know it, as a way to separate things. The word comma comes from the Greek word koptein, which means "to cut off."

The Oxford comma has been attributed to Horace Hart, printer and controller of the Oxford University Press from 1893 to 1915, who wrote Hart's Rules for Compositors and Readers in 1905 as a style guide for the employees working at the press.

However, at that time, the comma was not called the Oxford comma. In fact, it had no name until Peter Sutcliff referred to the Oxford comma in his 1978 book about the history of the Oxford University Press.

Sutcliff, however, credited F. Howard Collins with introducing the Oxford comma. Collins first mentioned it in his 1912 book, Author & Printer: A Guide for Authors, Editors, Printers, Correctors of the Press, Compositors, and Typists.


https://www.scribendi.com/advice/oxford_comma_importance.en.html

I speak British English (standard southern, slightly dated).
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Tuesday, January 9, 2018 7:20:36 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 29,456
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Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
Hi!

I would like to thank my parents, who are the Queen of England, and God.
This is incorrectly punctuated. The last comma (after "England") is completely incorrect - it does not make sense. It cannot be a paraphrase of "I would like to thank my parents, the Queen of England, and God."

It is called the "Oxford comma" because it was originally used by the Oxford Press - the company which printed the original Oxford Dictionary and many other university materials.

The 'Oxford comma' is an optional comma before the word 'and' at the end of a list: We sell books, videos, and magazines. It's known as the Oxford comma because it was traditionally used by printers, readers, and editors at Oxford University Press.

Oxford Dictionary

It is also known as the "serial comma", "Harvard comma" (and maybe a few other names).

Use of the Oxford comma is stylistic, meaning that some style guides demand its use while others don't. AP Style — the style guide that newspaper reporters adhere to — does not require the use of the Oxford comma. [my note:- The Chicago Manual of Style does require it.]
Grammarly

In English language punctuation, a serial comma or series comma (also called an Oxford comma or a Harvard comma) is a comma placed immediately before the coordinating conjunction (usually and or or) in a series of three or more terms.

Wikipedia

*************
As the quotes say, it is normally 'stylistic', 'optional'.

However, in cases in which one of the items (or all of the items) on the list are modified, it may make a big difference - and it is then not optional. It is used or not used depending on the meaning.

Court cases have been fought over sentences without commas.

One recent case was over a sentence which was something like:
Workers will be paid overtime for
"canning, processing, preserving,
freezing, drying, marketing, storing,
packing for shipment or distribution of (agricultural produce)"


The workers claimed they should be paid for the distribution of goods.
The company said they would only be paid for "packing for shipment or packing for distribution". Not for shipment or distribution work.

If there had been a comma after "shipment" the sentence would not have been ambiguous.


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
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