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Confusables 11: The Importance of Punctuation

Punctuation marks may be more important than you think…


Do you know using a comma can save lives?

Let’s eat grandma.

Let’s eat, grandma.


Do you know using a comma can determine who we are talking to?

I know George.

I know, George.


Do you know using a comma can change the number of people in a sentence?

John and his sister, who is a dentist and a mountaineer, will come over for dinner.

John and his sister, who is a dentist, and a mountaineer, will come over for dinner.


And have you heard of “the Oxford comma”?

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2 Comments

  1. Isabelle T 19th July 2017

    Thank you Hassan.

    I had never heard about the Oxford comma, but now I’m (almost) a specialist on this subject. 🙂

    An Oxford comma is a comma placed immediately before the coordinating conjunction (usually ‘and’ or ‘or’) in a series of three or more terms:
    “I bought apples, oranges, and strawberries.”

    It is known as the Oxford comma, because it is part of the house style of Oxford University Press.

    It is more common in American English than in British English.

    This practice is controversial and many writers and editors differ on whether to use it.

    It can both create or resolve ambiguity.

    Examples: 2 ways of understanding a sentence

    Without Oxford comma
    Yesterday, John met Tom, his son and Mark.
    They were 4: John, Tom, John’s son, Mark.

    With Oxford comma
    Yesterday, John met Tom, his son, and Mark.
    They were 3: John, his son Tom, Mark.

    You can learn more about Oxford comma, also called a serial comma or series comma, by clicking here.

  2. Hassan S 22nd July 2017 — Post author

    Thank you, Isabelle.
    I myself prefer using it, because it prevents ambiguity.

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