In a previous article, I alluded to a particular problem with failing to use the Oxford comma in three-word lists: Some syntactic arrangements result in a noun immediately preceding a list, which makes the veritable listness of the list uncertain. The example sentence used was, “In the midst of chaos, terror and despair were beacons of hope.” That’s the inferior version, of course.
But as the omniscient deity that is Lord Oxford Comma descended upon me recently, He exhibited yet again His limitless benevolence by enlightening me with another possibility. The above arrangement can exist with other types of phrases as well, namely direct address.
The following is a popular image embodying this instance. Well, it’s popular among people who spend a few hours each morning looking up various tidbits concerning the Oxford comma, which is a noteworthy demographic, I’m sure.Anyway:
For a more reasonable (a.k.a. boooring) example, “I invited Jeff, Joe and John.” Evidently, this lack of clarity can arise in numerous instances, making it all the more pernicious if that final comma is absent.
This article is too short.
You know who had very feminine handwriting? John Quincy Adams. Seriously, this is his signature: