February 6, 2011

The Case Against the Serial Comma

The debate regarding use of the serial comma (aka: the terminal comma) is so clearly one-sided that it hardly needs me to spill ink on the subject. But I can’t resist:

To my readers, Mallory and Laura:
The serial comma is an unnecessary device that is used only by strict grammarians, the overeducated and nerdy people. Now if there aren't any rebuttals, questions about my writing style or comments, who wants to get some coffee, bacon and eggs and toast?


  1. I find this post offensive, unnecessary, cocky and ambiguous. However, I like the ambiguity, as it is something valued by people who are cool, undereducated and lax grammarians. And since the serial comma is so damn tacky, I've decided, in certain instances, to use the much less tacky 'n' abbreviation. (E.g. coffee, bacon 'n' eggs and toast--because, clearly, bacon and eggs is one entity.)

  2. "There are people who embrace the Oxford comma and people who don't, and I'll just say this: NEVER get between these people when drink has been taken." - Lynne Truss, author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves.

  3. Did you mean to say that people who use a terminal comma are both uneducated and nerdy, or were you listing three distinct classes to which serial comma users might belong - singularly or in combination? Without a comma, it's impossible to know specifically what you meant.

    I eschew rigidity concerning use of the serial comma, by the way. I use it when it helps to clarify, as it would in your unfortunate example.

  4. Very clever, amusing, and exquisitely sarcastic!
    Kafka has engineered four perfect examples to demonstrate the need for an Oxford comma, and has managed to roll them all into one short paragraph! A witty lesson indeed, but seemingly the humour was lost on some readers!