June 22

Commas

Commas are often introduced much earlier than fourth grade, but fourth grade tends to be the grade where it is expected to be mastered.  We learn about using them before dialogue (I said, “Don’t forget to use commas to separate clauses!”), when using adverbs to introduce a sentence (like finally or on the other hand), in dates and numbers, and to separate items in a series, like this one.

This last one is the one that has provoked some controversy.  It is sometimes referred to as the Oxford Comma, and I like it.  I teach it.  Every year, I get some pushback from students, and even other educators, who say that it is no longer necessary.  I don’t care. I am probably passionate about using it because it’s what I learned in school some time during the middle ages.

Today I came across an article (https://thewritelife.com/is-the-oxford-comma-necessary/ by Kelly Gurnett) that gave me a name – a “diehard Oxford comma loyalist.” I like this, too. I know I am not a grammar perfectionist. I often make grammatical mistakes, usually caught by my waiting-to-pounce-on-every-mistake fourth-graders, but I will always use, and teach, the Oxford comma. What are your thoughts?