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Lately when I've been reading news articles and website blogs, I've been seeing some funny grammar that I don't remember learning about.

It deals with commas for a list of items.

Normally I thought you would write like this:

I have potatoes, carrots, and squash today to cook.

Lately I've been seeing this:

i have potatoes, carrots and squash today to cook.

Is this some new trend of bad punctuation or have I missed a rule in my grammar book?

  • Grammar -

    This has been an arbitrary rule for many years. When I first studying journalism some 60 years ago, we were making the transition from the comma before the "and" to omitting it. The reason was that type setting was done by hand and that comma was seen as a waste of time, effort, and money.

    Today, writers and students are expected to follow their style manual. Common sense tells me that that Oxford comma can be omitted in some series. This humorou cartoon, though, shows an example when it must be used.

  • Grammar -

    Thanks Ms. Sue! I'm just going to continue to use it so no one will be confused.

    I must ask, since I've used this site for years and love it, how did you come about to working here? Or is this all volunteer work? I see you, Dr. Bob, and some other people haven't left this site since I started posting here 7 years ago. :)

  • Grammar -

    We're all volunteers, and most of us are retired teachers and professors. Several others have also been here for years -- bobpursley, writeacher, drwls -- among others. Many of us were volunteer tutors for AOL's Academic Assistance Center -- going back to the mid-1990s. We really enjoy helping students -- and doing some of the necessary research.

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