The ‘Oxford comma’ is an optional comma before the word ‘and’ at the end of a list:
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It’s known as the Oxford comma because it was traditionally used by editors at Oxford University Press. Not all writers and publishers use it, but it can clarify the meaning of a sentence when the items in a list are not single words:
These items are available in black and white, red and yellow, and blue and green.
The Oxford comma is also known as the ‘serial comma’. Well in recent days the Oxford comma has come to the rescue of dairy workers in Maine USA who’ve argued that due to a lack of an Oxford comma they should receive overtime pay. Who knew that punctuation could play a major role in industrial action?
When you start playing around with the Oxford comma you realise that without it so much meaning gets altered:
Perhaps we should all take our punctuation far more seriously…