Celebrity Oxford Comma

I started my “formal” grammar training in sixth grade at Battle Ground Academy in Franklin, TN. While I didn’t retain a lot of information, one piece of information that has always stuck with me was the Oxford Comma.

Oxford Dictionaries describes the Oxford Comma as:

“an optional comma before the word ‘and’ at the end of a list”

To some, it is optional. I am of the opinion that it should be used at all times. It helps to provide clarity in a list. The below image illustrates this perfectly:

Flash forward a number of years. I’m now the Father of two children with a third on the way. Every night I sit down and read to my kids before they go to sleep. As I read to them, I began to notice that some authors would use the Oxford Comma, the Berenstain Bears books for example, and some wouldn’t. That’s absolutely acceptable, grammatically. After all, Oxford Dictionaries says it’s completely optional. While it did bother me, I was able to overlook it and move on with my nightly routine. Until one evening I noticed something truly terrible. Something so mind-bendingly haunting that it brought my brain to a screeching halt. While reading one of my children’s books, I noticed the author used the Oxford Comma at one point in the book, but then later did not use it.

You can’t do that.

I was dumbfounded. How could you possibly use the Oxford Comma at one point and then ignore its existence later. You can’t do that. Pick a stance and stick with it, don’t go back and forth on it. From that point forward I picked up on the usage of the Oxford Comma in all of my children’s books. Surprisingly, the number of times in which an author would use and then not use the Oxford Comma was more than I would expect.

I began to wonder what other authors thought of the Oxford Comma. I created a Twitter handle named Celebrity Oxford Comma and began to ask away.

Super important question: Where do you stand on the use of the Oxford Comma?

I started off slowly, first targeting just authors. As it turns out, I’m not familiar with a lot of authors. So I expanded. Asking actors, musicians, athletes, and people of note. Each time I would tweet the same message: Super important question: Where do you stand on the use of the Oxford Comma?

I wasn’t expecting much of a response. The fact is, I thought this was a little silly. Who is going to take the time to respond to me? Well, it took a little bit, but then it started.

Stephen Fry. A great start. Even if you’ve never heard of him, you’ll probably be surprised to learn you actually are familiar with him in some capacity. I was super excited. A few more happened. Wil Wheaton, Larry The Cable Guy, and Lauren Lapkus replied. Each response came with someone else favoriting or possibly retweeting it.

Then it happened.

Each time I would get a notification or two. Just letting me know someone had interacted with me in some fashion. Then it happened. Some replies got dozens or hundreds of retweets or favorites. I, or more accurately, my phone was not ready for the influx of notifications I was about to receive.

Simply put I was shocked. Not only was I shocked to get any responses, but to date I’ve got over one hundred responses from people that are both for and against the Oxford Comma. It’s become a fun little project. Not only do I get responses from people of note, but I get to see responses from anyone who stumbles upon this little account. I haven’t gotten responses from everyone. Some people, Jessica Chastain for example, will just favorite the tweet, but never reply. But all in all, I’m happy with what I’ve gotten.

In the end, I’m happy to see that I’m not the only one that is passionate about the Oxford Comma in one way or another. If nothing else, it somewhat proves I’m not crazy.

If nothing else, it somewhat proves I’m not crazy.

Now if I could only get Kevin Smith to reply.

To see all the responses I’ve gotten, check my Favorite Tweets.