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Video:Quick Tip: What is an Oxford Comma?

with Heather Kamins

An Oxford comma is an interesting piece of punctuation that can totally alter the meaning of a sentence. Learn about Oxford commas and how they work in this video from About.com.See Transcript

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Transcript:Quick Tip: What is an Oxford Comma?

Hi, I'm Heather Kamins for About.com, and I'm here to explain what an Oxford comma is.

What is an Oxford Comma?

The Oxford comma, also known as the serial comma, comes before the and in a series of items. For example: The class is on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

There are many opinions and different style guide recommendations on whether or not to use the Oxford comma. In some cases, not using it can lead to confusion. For example: I admire my parents, Albert Einstein, and Marie Curie. If you don't use a serial comma there, it can look like Albert Einstein and Marie Curie are my parents. In cases like that, you definitely want to use the Oxford comma to prevent confusion.

And in all other cases such as simple lists, it's usually a good idea to use it unless you're following a style guide that specifically tells you not to.

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