The Oxford Comma

I asked a friend to recommend a book, any book. I laughed out loud when I saw the title: Eats, Shoots, and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation!

I’ve never met an author so passionate, so mischievously marvelous, about the laws of punctuation. She admits to sabotaging signs with a can of spray paint to reme

dy their erroneous markings, raising high her rousing cry, “Sticklers unite!”

A former editor, author Lynne Truss dares to tell us, in her sarcastic and very British manner, that it is time we understood the severity of the situation: punctuation is going to die a horrific death on the internet if we don’t pay attention. Relying on “Spell checks” and “Grammar checks” that don’t know the rules of the sentence, we are losing the power that a well-placed semicolon can impart.

The main message I took from this book is that punctuation has evolved over the years; many “rules” have changed over the years and vary between the Motherland and the New World. The original point of it all, however, was to inform an orator how to speak to his audience in order to make his point perfectly. Punctuation tells people to stop. To go! To wait: to wait: and to wait for it. It insinuates and asks for drama! Does your punctuation simply follow rules (I confess I am still learning them), or does it convey to your reader exactly the meaning and emotions you intend?

For example:

A woman, without her man, is nothing.

A woman: without her, man is nothing.

Which woman are you?

A final note: when using a comma to separate multiple descriptors, either of the following two versions are acceptable:

The American Comma: The flag is red, white and blue.

The Oxford Comma: The flag is red, white, and blue.


  1. That is insanely interesting and may have me reading a grammar book. Off to check the library's shelves.

  2. Thank you, Diamond! It really is a great read - the large print is a bonus, but she captivates you and makes you fall in love with grammar like Whitney Houston makes you fall in love with romantic ballads.

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  5. JennyJenJen - That is so ironic! I loved your collection of "body/art/expression!" And the name of your blog is quite clever; I can't wait to keep up on it. Maybe you'll post more things I can use :)

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  7. I did get the book and really enjoyed it. The authour also has a book for children with the same title that has fun, illustrated examples that my 5 year old enjoyed.

  8. This is awesome! I'm a grammar freak myself (mostly the their/there/they're kinds of things) but I feel like I always have to be perfect because I correct other people so I'm definitely going to refer back to this when I'm doubting myself.