Who Really Cares About the Oxford Comma?

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

I do. I care.

I care for the sake of the clarity, flow, and musicality of prose. I care because words matter, punctuation matters, and there is no other logical position besides being pro-Oxford comma. I care because I like jokes about my parents, God, and Stalin. (Actually, in that case, the joke only works if you take out the Oxford comma, which I refuse to do on principle.)

Some people, apparently, disagree—including those who follow the AP’s style book, which is most traditional newspaper reporters. I am prepared to do battle with these foes. This Friday, June 24, at 3pm EST, we will host a live video debate on our Facebook page: me vs. readers / internet riffraff, on the topic of the Oxford comma. Besides its merits, which are clear, the following questions may be considered:

Oxford comma or serial comma?

Best Oxford-comma joke?

Is this Vampire Weekend song actually coherent?

Have thoughts? Hate the Oxford comma? By all means, enter the fray: hello@theatlantic.com. But beware: I have gotten into fights over the Oxford comma at weddings, in the Atlantic offices, and at bars. Bring it on. I have no fear, no doubt, and no shame about tedious pedantry.