Category Archives: Oxford Comma

The Oxford Comma Saves Lives

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Oxford comma, here’s an illustration:

I bought chips, candy, and soda.

The comma before the and in that sentence is the Oxford one. I’m in favor of it, even though there are people in this world (including at least one whom I respect) who don’t use it. Today, however, I ran across a case in which using it may mean the difference between life and death. The following comes from the warning signs above the gas pumps at Sam’s Club in Rogers:

In case of fire,
spill or release

What comes after that message is advice to call 911 and other safety blather. But notice how as the quoted lines are written (and without a colon at the end), the message actually tells me to spill or to release fuel if a fire occurs.

A comma after “spill” would correct this glaring error in safety.