A high school English teacher quizzed us over comma usage. I hated it. It’s a comma that appears in a list, or to address someone or to separate a clause. WHY DOES IT HAVE A NAME? And that was mostly my take on grammar — I understood it but could not explain it.
Five years later I transferred from Community College to the University three hours away from home, and while working at the school paper I heard a lot of discussion on grammar. To make matters more interesting, our editor in chief was an English — not journalism — major, and had many anti-oxford comma opinions. The more reading and practicing I did, the more I realized that not only does AP style not use it, but it’s obsolete in almost all usages. By teaching one to mindlessly use an oxford comma in a list, you aren’t promoting critical thinking. Yet if one is taught to not use the oxford comma, then his or her standard test scores will be lower — a true example of what we teach, verses what we should.
That story probably says more about me than a summary could. Not only have you learned that I was a transfer — two grueling years before beginning a journalism degree, ugh — but I’ve learned to question everything. It’s made me a budding feminist — for gender equality, not female hierarchy, brought me to progressive belief in my Catholic faith and even to admit that yes, some complex lists do need the oxford.
And speaking of AP rules, this contains multiple em dashes, as my copy-editor accomplice has taught me thou shalt never use parenthesis. You’re welcome, Danae.